Inherent Trust – Post for Leaders

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This post is about identifying opportunities as a leader to build teams through inherent trust. The underlying idea is that we trust people and things (strangers) inherently but for some reason, we may find it difficult to trust people we know.

We also trust people like EMTs, Doctors, other emergency workers, and many others including military people inherently due to their roles and titles. If this is the case, why do we struggle to trust people on our own teams?

Consider a few thoughts here and feel free to comment. Consider taking “the water test” at the end~!

Morning Coffee

Wake up this morning to the sound of the alarm, it beeps and blurps to gain your attention and get you going for the day.

Roll out of bed and head to the bathroom, flip on the switch, and light up the room. Start the shower while in the distance you hear the beep beep beep of the coffee machine telling you that your morning brew is ready and waiting for you.

Take a shower and do all the things, grab your cup out of the cabinet or dishwasher, and pour yourself a nice cup of coffee. Grab some kind of creamer from the fridge and add a splash of something to cut that dark liquid deliciousness.

On your way to the start of your day!

Without going into every detail of every aspect of this morning’s activities, consider some areas of inherent trust.

  1. You had to trust the technology was working for the alarm.
  2. Trust you had clean and consistent power.
  3. Trust you had clean and consistent water.
  4. Trust the coffee maker would work consistently.
  5. Trust the coffee was OK for consumption.
  6. Trust the refrigerator was working properly.
  7. Trust whatever chemicals or food you used for cream.
  8. Trust the workmanship of the cabinet.
  9. Trust the folks that made the cup.

The fact that we consume water, the coffee bean particulates, and the chemical recipe of words we can’t even pronounce in most creamers today is fascinating don’t you think?

MMMMMM Coffee…

Photo by Anastasia Belousova on

One more for you to consider.

Meeting at 1:00PM over in the conference room, and lots of folks showing up to talk about the new security initiative, everyone is working hard to keep the data and information of our organization safe. The kind staff from the cafeteria brought up water in pitchers for the meeting, they even brought some lemons!

As you walk into the meeting, you grab a glass of water, sit down, take your first sip, lean back in your chair, and get to ask tough questions of the team.

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Trust in Strangers

Years ago, I sat down with my boss in a private setting, I’d brought a few bottles of water into the room and asked her if she wanted some water. She already had a bottle of water, plastic Deer Park, or something like that. We started talking about work and she was questioning everything I was doing down to as many details as she could consider. Admittedly, she is very smart which translates to a lot of detail asking.

I wondered how she could trust the company that bottled the water without any question knowing that the water would have much more of a personal impact on her if things went wrong. She could have used a water testing kit prior to drinking it. She could have summoned the company to provide her a detailed report with the history of the water, where it came from, how it was treated, and who was involved in the process. How many characters would she have enjoyed interrogating on each process and each and every step of bottling that water? Within a moment of sitting down, she opened the cap, she drank and that was it. She trusted all of them to provide her with safe water to drink. Imagine if the water was not safe. She loses everything, potentially, her health, her important job, and even her life.

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For a multitude of reasons including cost, health studies show that tap water is better than bottled water.

Even if we questioned the use of bottled water in my meeting with her, we could have been talking about something that benefitted our business. (hey that is an aside but it is pretty interesting ain’t it?)

So, why do leaders trust strangers and THINGS more than they trust their own people and staff?

In our world today, we are all using some form of technology for our work. Given that we are using technology, we have to trust that it will work when we need it. We may believe that we have control of something that we DO NOT have control of. Or we may believe that we DO NOT have control of something that we DO have control of.

Here is what I mean:

We CAN control how we act.

We can control how we engage our teams.

We can give the same trust to our people that we give to the bottled water companies.

We CANNOT control if technology fails us and we CANNOT hold people accountable for things out of their control.

The next time you are in a team meeting and you have a glass or bottle of water, a cup of coffee, or even a MONSTA.. think about if you trust the people in the room as much as you trust the thing you are about to consumer which technically could change your life with some immediacy.

If you don’t trust them in the same way or MORE, is it them or you?

If it’s you, what are you going to do about it?

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Trust your team, trust your people, give them your trust, and they will reward you with theirs.

**Shout out to my teams.. thank you for your trust in me**

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This post is dedicated to my mother on Mother’s Day. Irene Cohen never met a stranger…

Ma’… we miss you, we see the feathers..


The Water Test

Get a glass or bottle of water,

Before you open it, think about where it could have been.

Consider, the bottle or glass, the water, the plastics (all the things)

Think about the inherent trust you have in all these people.

Do you trust your people, your team in the same way?

Why not?

What would it take to get you there?

What does inherent team trust look like for you as a leader of teams?