The High Trust Organisational Culture: What is the Role of Leaders?

Anthony Hickey

In previous articles of the series, the benefits of a high trust culture and how trust-building can be facilitated have been discussed. This week, we round off the series by identifying trust-building behaviours at leadership level, as experienced by employees in daily activities.

At Great Place to Work, we measure trust through our Trust Index survey, an examination of a sample of statements included in the survey offers us a valuable insight into the interpersonal factors which build trust between leaders and employees.

For the purposes of this article, we will first highlight a selection of statements included in the survey, subsequently expanding on the questions to illustrate the kinds of actions that typically influence responses in these areas.

  • “Management shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee.” Make time for interactions with employees at the individual level, these conversations should be open and not always work orientated, common ground sets the foundations for trust-building.
  • “Management's actions match its words.” The extent to which employees trust leaders will be largely based on character judgments. Keeping promises made to employees is vital, otherwise we cannot expect employees to follow through on their commitments.
  • “Management genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas.” Involving employees in decision making processes and providing them with a reasonable level of autonomy in their daily roles is an excellent way to build reciprocal trust.
  • “Managers avoid playing favourites.” Employees must see a leader’s decision making as a fair process, particularly as it pertains to task allocation and availability of opportunities. Fairness ensures staff remain motivated to give their best.
  • “Management is competent at running the business.” It is essential that employees internalise a representation of leadership as having the necessary ability to lead. Trust is informed by predictions made about future actions, based on those already observed.


Check out who made Ireland's Best Workplaces 2023 below 👇

New call-to-action


As has been the theme throughout this series of articles, each piece of guidance offered is applicable to any organisation. Great Workplaces are not determined by perks and bonuses, but by the quality of the relationships that dictate the meaning and enjoyment drawn from day-to-day activities. Trust is the key ingredient in those relationships and as a result, the foundations of a Great Place to Work.


Read the other articles of the Trust Series below:

Trust Series 1/3

Trust Series 2/3


More resources on trust building:

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. We help organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. We recognise Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies and the Best Workplaces™ in more than 60 countries. To join the thousands of companies that have committed to building high-trust company cultures that help them attract, retain and take care of their people, contact us about getting Certified today.