Blog Post


Building Trust In A Diverse Environment

Leaders and individuals want more from work and life. They want to feel good and purposeful, like they are winning.  TRUST is the glue that makes winning possible. It’s the secret sauce to  experiencing a thriving company culture. It’s what fuels  personal accountability, connection, innovation, retention, and engagement. 


Unfortunately, many organizations’s attempts at building trusting environments fail due to an innocent, yet faulty approach. First they mistakenly overlook the role an individual’s level of trust plays in building it and second, they approach trust as a “thing” that can be manipulated. 


As a consequence,  how to build trust becomes a set of rules or activities that one must follow or do in order to get trust from someone or something out there. It sounds kind of like this; “If they do this, then I can trust.” or  “If I do that, then they will trust.Contrary to popular belief however, trust can neither be earned nor granted, it’s cultivated. And that my dear, is an inside job. 


Truth Tip

It is each individual’s level of trust that will build a trusting culture. 

Not the other way around.


Building a trusting environment must begin with each individual examining their level of trust in Self. If you’re not sure about how to do that, keep reading to get a clearer idea. 


To cultivate a trust in Self you must do 3 things:


  1. Understand that trust is a choice, not a set of perfect conditions that allow you to trust.
  2. Develop a healthy relationship with being different.
  3. Uncouple trust about performance from a judgement of character.


Make trust a choice instead of a set of behaviors to master.

When you trust yourself ( your needs, perceptions and natural inclinations)  it’s easy to speak and behave in ways that are aligned with it, without the need to justify or defend yourself.  This type of confidence is a natural invitation for others to begin trusting themselves.


Trusting yourself sounds simple but embodying trusting behaviors requires effort and sometimes a little risk.  You must notice when you’re stuck in the weeds of approval seeking, fearing judgment, or some other form of self-oppression and gather the strength to come back to yourself. 


Truth Tip

Real trust in self  isn’t superficial. It can’t get obliterated by another’s criticism or judgment. 


Trusting yourself means being willing to risk speaking up to provide solutions without a hidden agenda. It means suggesting fact based changes to enhance your organizations’ culture when it’s scary or unpopular to do so. It is having the conviction that leaders and colleagues (yourself included) can handle any discomfort that arises from you being honest, because we are all much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. 


When you trust yourself you turn away from the fear based voice that tells you that you’re still not smart enough, attractive enough, or successful enough and that you must jump another hurdle or raise another bar. You choose to be enough right now, as you are, because you say so.


Start by following your own lead. Slow down a bit to listen to the inner voice of your heart that has been patiently waiting for your acknowledgment between all the how tos and better nots shouting for your attention. If you had a magic wand to wipe away all your doubts or limited thinking, what would you change about your strategy, goals or the work you’re doing today? 


Truth Tip: 

Worry and trust are opposites. If you are worried, you are not in trust. 


Embrace your own diversity.

In a world full of influencers (media, past experience, the well meaning advice of others), finding YOU in the collective wave of fitting in can be tricky. The pack mentality has been embedded in organizational cultures for so long that it’s easy to sacrifice your own unique identity for the hope of belonging, without even realizing it. 


Consciously or unconsciously ignoring or suppressing your own views, preferences and ideas, and trusting “the rules” over your Soul, is perhaps the biggest disservice you can do to yourself and the organizational culture. Organizations that wish to thrive need a diversity of skills, perceptions, and talents, not robots programmed to conform and comply.  


It’s easy to label things about yourself as good or bad. The “good” you try to shine a light on and the “bad” you try hard to hide. What if you traded the labels of good and bad for just different? Until you cure your unhealthy relationship with your own differences you will never be able to create a truly diverse and inclusive work culture. It starts with YOU. 


Magically, the energy and behaviors associated with a real trust in Self, tend to be contagious. The more you beam an “I love my uniqueness” vibe, others begin to do the same. As you cultivate the trust in your ability to meet different perspectives, behaviors, ideas, and beliefs without feeling the need to hide, contort, buy in or deny your own, others have an example of how to grant themselves the same freedom. 


Uncouple trust about performance from a judgement of character.

Oftentimes, when disappointment arises because a promise or commitment hasn’t been kept, it’s tempting to turn a performance issue into a character flaw by judging the person who let you down, especially yourself. For example, someone doesn’t get the job done (performance) and you label them as not having the ability to do the job (judgment of character)


Putting these kinds of conditions on trust and then judging someone’s character because your conditions were not met, erodes not only mutual respect and connection, it undermines the trust building process itself. Jumping to conclusions about people and revoking trust without having an honest conversation (based in mutual respect) about what has occurred, can lead to unnecessary resignation, termination and breed distrust in the work culture.  



A culture composed of self trusting individuals is a magnificent thing to behold. People jump in and speak up. They share feedback and inspired ideas. When people no longer use results as a weapon to shame or punish, they no longer shy away from taking responsibility and accountability for them. Self trusting individuals create environments of mutual respect because they can’t help but extend the trust and kindness that they have cultivated for themselves.


We hope this has been helpful. Creating trusting and diverse work cultures happens to be our sweet spot at The Russell Consulting Group. Please contact us if you’d like to have a quick conversation. If you have any ideas on trust you’d like to share please leave them in the comments. 

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