Are You A Trustworthy Manager?

Our teams will better serve stakeholders if they operate in a culture of trustworthiness and integrity.

We face an ongoing challenge to build a trustworthy team that reliably serves our key stakeholders. The starting place is to have the team led by a trustworthy leader—you.

Wes Friesen

Wes Friesen

How can we develop a higher level of trustworthiness for ourselves and our teams? Let me share some ideas, largely based on the work of Dr. Robert Hurley, a respected professor, consultant and former manager.

Six Keys to Building Trustworthiness

1. Create similarities. Establish common values and a common identity. Research has shown that we tend to trust people we think are similar to us and share our values. High-trust leaders and high-trust organizations create bonds of trust by developing and gaining commitment to common values and beliefs.

Years ago, my company (Portland General) established a core set of values, which we call “Guiding Behaviors.” These shared values have served us well over the years and saw us through challenging times such as the collapse of our one-time parent company, Enron. Here are PGE’s Guiding Behaviors:

  • Be Accountable
  • Dignify People
  • Earn Trust
  • Team Behavior
  • Positive Attitude
  • Make the Right Thing Happen

Another tactic to build a common identity is to encourage people on your team to know each other as people, not just as professionals. Look for common experiences and interests that can help build a sense of camaraderie.

2. Align interests with those whose trust you want. It is much easier to trust people that we feel will serve our interests. To build trust, start by clarifying and aligning stakeholder interests and promote those interests in a fair manner.

3. Develop benevolent concern. People tend to trust those who care about their welfare—those who demonstrate a benevolent character. If you want to earn trust, demonstrate that you will do the right things for others even if this puts you at risk. John Maxwell was right on when he said “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Related story: How Do You Motivate People?

Wes Friesen manages multiple departments for an electrical utility based in the Northwest. His teams have earned numerous awards including NAPL Gold awards. Wes also teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at a variety of national conferences. Wes has just written a book called Your Team Can Soar! which contains 42 valuable lessons to help you lead and develop high performing teams. Books can be ordered from his personal website ( or via the following link: Contact Wes at

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