top of page

Focus on Trust

A Focus on Trust was at the core of this week’s Focus on WHY’s podcast episode 343 Trust in Action with Tony Underwood. Tony shares what individual qualities it takes to harness the most from teams and how everything revolves around trust.

Tony referenced The Trust Equation which is from Charles Green, David Maister and Robert Galford's book The Trusted Advisor. The equation details four components that affect trust: credibility plus reliability plus intimacy and are all divided by self-orientation. This equation measures how much trust you can place in others and how much they place in you.

Whilst The Trust Equation was designed for the workplace and for leaders and teams, the calculation applies to all relationship building. Trust is about understanding people’s needs and ensuring they are met.

Trust trumps performance. You would rather have someone you could trust over someone who performs well whom you don’t trust. This equation was spoken about in The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek where he shared the importance of trust in the Navy SEALs where they prioritise trust before performance.

Referencing the Navy SEALs, Sinek says that you need to show high scores in two key areas: trust and performance. Performance is assessed on technical competence, grit and staying cool under pressure. Trust is about character, humility and personal accountability not just with physical safety but also with psychological safety.

Sinek places these two traits on two axes of a graph. Trust goes on the horizontal axis and performance on the vertical axis and he shared how low scores in trust and performance would be placed in the bottom left quadrant and high scores in each area would score high and place in the top right quadrant. What was interesting is that the Navy SEALs would rather have a medium score in performance with a high score in trust than the reverse.

So trust is therefore prioritised over performance. This is an interesting finding and converse to the operations of most businesses. Performance is more often what we measure ourselves against. I wonder what would happen if trust was replaced as the measure of success?

If the Navy SEALs, one of the highest performing teams in the world value trust over performance then you can take a lot from this into your business philosophy and also into your personal life. For me it comes down to your values. Knowing your own personal values and being aligned to them, honouring them and ensuring that they shine through in everything you do.

Curiously I looked up the etymology of the word trust and it comes from Old Norse words traustr, traust and from the verb treysta meaning make strong and safe, firm or solid, rely on. It also means to have confidence in. This makes sense to me as to make something strong, safe and solid requires building it over time. It is not a one hit wonder. The same can be said for purpose. This is also built over time and evolves. Both purpose and trust are built in a series of moments sometimes seemingly insignificant ones however they compound over time.

According to Stephen R. Covey “trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience.” In his brilliant book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey speaks of the Emotional Bank Account which he uses as a powerful metaphor to describe the amount of trust built up in a relationship describing it as ‘the feeling of safeness you have with another human being.” A word of warning though, no matter how long trust has been held, trust can also be lost in an instant.

Trust is what enables you to live a life of purpose. You need trust in yourself so that you can achieve what you desire however you also need to hold trust in others to help you make these things happen.

Focus on Trust!

Action Point: How trusted are you by your friends, peers and family? What could you do today to build more trust in yourself and others?


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page