Trust – Without It You Have Nothing


I have had some time for reflection and some time for sharing while on a business trip to Dubai. I was truly blessed to meet some awesome people that came together to talk about ‘effective mentoring’ and what it means to a nation. I wish we could have that conversation more often – even at the organisation level.

One of the topics that we discussed was the element of trust as it relates to mentoring. We looked at the three phases of the mentoring relationship and agreed that the trusting phase was crucial to the success of the mentoring relationship. We also saw that building trust is a transferable skill. It is a skill that can be used in your professional and personal lives.

When we look at trust and leadership at the organisational level, we see that without trust, there is no empowerment, and I would suggest that, without empowerment there would not be any engagement on the part of the employees. Engagement numbers, or I should say lack of engagement statistics, is still rather startling.

I noted a few eyebrows rising when I provided some recent numbers on engaged, disengaged and actively disengaged employees in organisations on a global and regional basis. I tie the engagement issue back to leadership or lack thereof. With so many people depending on each other in an organisation, trust is important. If you can’t trust co-workers to complete their part of the assignment, it can and will jeopardise the success of the project.

In one on one relationships, trust is a huge factor. Magnify that many times over when you allow group dynamics to take over. There will be more time spent pointing fingers and dodging responsibility and accountability that empowerment will disappear.

Failure to empower is one of the key reasons that teams fail today. Empowerment comes from trust. Without trust – you have nothing!

The element of trust is also a factor when it comes to determining whether or not you are a servant leader or a self-serving leader. A person who is a self-serving leader may have followers as long as the follower’s needs are being met. Once they see no value in following, then they fall by the way side and the self-serving leader can be left on their own.

With a servant leader, there has been a relationship built based on a foundation of trust. Without that trust in place – you have nothing! Self-serving or self-important leaders use such terminology as “I”, “my” and “me” while a servant leader makes reference to “we” and “us” – ironically similar to a trained mentor using the Socratic Method!

We would find it difficult to trust a person that was very self-centered and seemed to be always directing the conversation back to them. Have you listened to yourself when you are speaking to others? Do you catch yourself directing the conversation back to you? Are you a frequent user of terms such as “I”, or “my” and “me”? You may look in the mirror and see someone that is a self-serving leader. If you however look in that mirror, and wonder how you can be of service to someone today to help them be the best that they can be, then you may well be a servant leader. Do you see someone that you could trust?

Leadership is after all a ‘process of influence’. You are influencing thinking, behaviour or the development of people in their personal and professional lives.

Influencing perhaps, guiding perhaps but not telling. All of this sounds similar to some of the attributes of effective mentoring


We need to work on our ability to build trust as it is the foundation for the many relationships that we will build as leaders and mentors. It is through these trusted relationships that we will create a culture of engagement and empowerment. When we have engagement and empowerment, we will have accountability all of which has been formed on a foundation of trust? Without trust – you have nothing!

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