Unpacking Trust

The Emotional Wheel: Clarity


Have you ever thought you had just completed an assignment only to find you had not? Or that you had missed something important because the initial request was not clear and specific? When this happens, how does it make you feel? Giving or receiving unclear requests or instructions often leads to dissatisfaction and a lowering of trust. If this happens repeatedly, trust becomes damaged goods and we become tentative and frustrated.

The second part of this working definition, “no hidden agendas,” is something that can severely damage trust very quickly. Like the failure to hold confidential information, people who aren’t clear and transparent about their motives, or what is really going on, are people we don’t trust.

We were working in a company that had been stuck at a certain top line revenue number for five years. As we dug into some of the core beliefs and assumptions the CEO and the management team had, we found that the entire management team believed that the CEO was always keeping one card down, holding back an important piece of information or his true intent. This lack of clarity and transparency created a deep distrust that kept performance in check and created silos and a “cover your butt” mentality.

The CEO would let things unfold to a certain point and then pull out that “silver bullet” that brought it all back to where he wanted things to be. Their ability to be innovative, empowered, consistent, and execute with confidence was compromised by this broken trust habit of hidden agendas. Once this was surfaced and worked out, revenue and spirit began to grow.

In business, there are things like M&A activity that cannot be shared openly. We understand that. Hidden agendas are things like:

  • The manager asks the team to help him/her decide who should lead an important project but he/she has already made up their mind who it will be.
  • The team leader says that the best ideas win, but in the end the ideas that are implemented are always his/hers.
  • The executive you work for says we are going to restructure the way we work to become more customer-responsive but in the end 10 jobs are cut and you recognize that he/she already knew that was the real plan.


Clarity impacts trust and elicits an emotional response!


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After you finish your workbook, I’d love to hear your thoughts! This discussion is between Leb, Diane and their students, you’ll be able to talk to each other, and you can start a discussion of your own in the discussions tab.  It’s not public, it’s a private space for us to talk. Nothing improves trust like communication!