When an organization is working on a new product or service, they’re more likely to seek advice from subject matter experts. If you want your workforce to be strong and powerful, you have to encourage building trust among teams. 

A leader has to trust their employees to get work done. Achieving organizational goals is simpler when those involved can rely on each other.

For some decisions in our lives, we seek people we trust—people who’ll guide us and inspire us to take the right path. But what makes them the right people to trust? This is where the trust equation comes in.

Learn more about the trust equation and its four factors to equip your senior executives with the right tools to build trust with employees.

  1. What Is The Trust Equation?

  2. What Are The Four Factors Of The Trust Equation?

  3. How Can Leaders Build Trust?

What Is The Trust Equation?


Charles H. Green, founder and CEO of Trusted Advisor Associates, created the trust equation as a means to measure a person’s trustworthiness.

The trust equation has four factors—Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy (openness) and Self-Orientation. Each factor is associated with someone’s relationship with others, how they approach each other and to what extent they can place their trust in them. In the workplace, it’s critical for collaboration and teamwork to build trust. 

For instance, in a team, it’s important to first build trust before asking for or offering help. Many tasks are interdependent for which employees need support from others. Also, they may be going through a difficult time, for which they might need a shoulder to lean on. Only a person they trust can offer support in a crisis situation. 

What Are The Four Factors Of The Trust Equation?


How leaders build trust depends on someone’s trustworthiness. To determine whether someone can be trusted, organizations can use the trust equation. Here are the four factors of Green’s equation of trust.

  1. Credibility

When we believe someone’s words, it’s because we think they’re credible. We think they’re fact-based and honest. Credibility is defined by expertise in the subject matter. People who are genuine and competent have high credibility when they speak. Thought leaders—those who are experts—are considered credible. You want to make sure that leaders get information from a trusted source, and these sources are reliable and dependable.


  1. Reliability

When you believe someone will act on their words, it means they’re reliable. For instance, we trust our colleagues will complete the work by the deadline. Getting a promotion or a performance-based appraisal depends on how reliable we are.


  1. Openness

When you feel comfortable around others, you’re more likely to trust them with work. You’re more likely to share information with people you’re open with. This helps when you have to exchange sensitive or important updates with senior management. 


  1. Self-Orientation

When you feel someone is more concerned about themselves and their personal goals, you won’t trust them as much. High self-orientation means that someone is focusing on themselves. For an organization’s success, however, everyone needs to focus on common goals.

Each of these factors of the equation of trust is highly relevant in a professional setting. If you want to build trust among your employees, your leadership must be trained accordingly. 

How Can Leaders Build Trust?


Leaders lead by example. For them to build trust, they have to first trust their own strengths. Encouraging your leadership to train and learn how to build trust with employees will help your organization strengthen its workforce.

Here’s how to encourage your leadership to build trust:

  • Focused learning and development efforts with the trust equation to familiarize them with the concept

  • On-the-job training to help them work with their teams and employees from the start

  • Build empathy to encourage employees to open up to their seniors and share their troubles

  • Push them to engage with their employees, listen to them and solve problems without taking sides

  • Set up a two-way feedback protocol to make sure employees and leaders are comfortable with each other

Some characteristics that the trust equation is based on are consistency, dependability, practicality, confidentiality and transparency. In a professional setting, individual efforts help achieve organizational objectives. Trust can take your organizations from point A to B without any roadblocks.

Harappa’s High Performing Leaders Program has been designed for leaders and managers in sales and delivery teams. To build relationships with employees, clients and customers, leaders can use the trust equation to assess a person’s trustworthiness. Our curated program includes key frameworks like a Stakeholder Map to help your senior executives assess someone’s trustworthiness and drive the business forward.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Who is a Project Manager, Must-Have Skills For Leadership, Top Behavioral Skills For Managers, Operational Manager Skills & Managerial Roles And Skills that will help organizations tap into their employee's potential.

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