Honesty, Respect, Integrity & Trust

We’ve spoken lately about a few things that affect our ability to show up as an effective team member.  Last week, we asked you to Speak Up & Speak In – to think about expanding  your big picture view, be more aware of the things around us that affect our team and our outcomes, and have the courage to bring those things to the attention of the team when necessary.
Today’s thoughts run further along that line.
As soon as we suggest encouraging team members to speak up and speak in, the very next thought is that the space we operate in needs to be safe enough for them (and us) to do so.  Now we’ve crossed the very thin divide between Communication & Culture….between the deliverables and the underlying grease that makes the wheels go round.  Creating an environment within which a team can flourish takes intention and dedication to actively living those intentions until they are exemplified in everything that you and your team do.
If successful business was as easy as just hiring a bunch of labour to deliver a product, every business team would be nailing it.  But business is about delivering energy, regardless of the product you deliver.  The energy and consistency that you deliver with is what earns you loyalty and repeat business, regardless of your industry.  And at the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing – TRUST.
Whether we’re talking about an environment that teammates are inspired to work and deliver in, or something that clients and customers want to come back to, the bottom line is TRUST.  We know that trust is earned…but how we actually get there is sometimes a bit of a mystery.  Trust seems to take a myriad of things to earn it and is so hard to hang on to that it looks like a heck of a lot of energy just to think about creating more of it, let alone actually actioning it….and yet, we can’t afford not to.
The reason we can’t afford not to be intentional about creating a trustworthy environment for our teams and our clients is that the amount of energy expended trying to read and protect ourselves from an environment we don’t trust means we have little left over to be productive.  In his book, “The Speed of Trust” Steven Covey Jnr stated that we all want speed in the market-place.  True?  We all want to do fast, repetitive and successful business.  We all want to develop, grow and expand.  We all want to create relationships that last and on which we can build.  We don’t want to always be checking our backs; always checking our teammates work; always wondering what people’s agendas are.  Covey draws a direct correlation between speed and trust.  The more trust you have within your team, the faster you can inside your business.  The faster you can move inside your business, the more speed you can gain in the market place.
So how do we get there?  What exactly IS it we need to be intentional about?  Well….most Corporates list the ingredients in their values.  The problems is that that’s where it stops.  In fact, we’re all running around professing to want the same things.  But we’re all waiting for someone else to do it rather than demonstrating it ourselves.
The ingredients for creating a safe space for teams to speak up and speak in to, for creating a culture within which trust allows you to work at such a speed internally that you’re able to translate that speed into the market place aren’t rocket science.  We just need to understand how they’re connected and that the only control we have over their presence is our OWN ability to demonstrate them.
The ingredients of trust are honesty, respect and integrity. 

Simple.  Right?
Of course not.  Else we’d all be swimming in them and we wouldn’t put them on our values list because we wouldn’t realise we needed more of them and that everyone was in search of them.
So, what do we need to be aware of when it comes to creating a trustworthy space where honesty, respect and integrity abound, and how do we do it?  Well, the first thing we need to understand is the relationship between them, because they’re so synergistic that they’re more of a package deal than individual steps.
HONESTY speaks to our ability to speak up and speak in.  All of us want to live in an environment where there is honesty because it makes us feel safe.  When people are open, honest and transparent, we know what we’re dealing with and we don’t have to expend a bunch of energy trying to figure out what we don’t know.  Even when it’s just our subconscious that’s uncertain, it’s like having all the apps on your phone running in the background.  It chews up your battery.  When people are open and honest, we don’t even need to like what we hear or agree with it.  But as long as we know it’s true, we can find a way to deal with it.  The uncertainty of not knowing means our brains spend time trying to imagine what’s in the gaps in the information – and we’re likely to fill in those gaps with the worst case scenario so that we can prepare ourselves.
RESPECT must come hot on the heels of honesty.  Actually, they should be holding hands.  Nobody wants to be in an environment where people are running around being honest all over everyone with no respect.  That would be uncomfortable at best.  Respect means accommodating everyone to the best of your ability and ranges broadly from how you speak to people (your tone and language) to the content of what you say.  If you go forward having set the intention of communicating for connection and growth, then you’re likely to win more than you lose; and if you get it wrong, the fact that you’re trying will generally earn you a second chance.  If you’re not sure how to go about something.  Ask.  That in itself shows respect.
INTEGRITY means that we’re able to be honest and respectful consistently across all levels of our undertakings, regardless of who we’re dealing with – even when no one is watching and/or there’s no direct gain for us.  We should represent ourselves consistently because we stand by our value systems and character and because alignment with that makes us feel good.  Again, whilst this may seem like a hell of a practise that may come under threat in many different scenarios, it actually takes less energy to do so once it’s become a habit.
For these things to become a culture for us as individuals, and for us to demonstrate them loud enough and consistently enough for them to permeate a team, requires that we start with clear intentions as to what we stand for and where our boundaries are when those beliefs and values are challenged.
Professing our values is one thing.  Living by them and defending them is another.  None of us get it right all the time.  We’re all human and when something goes against our values, often it riles us and we react.  It takes a strong and practised approach to remain calm and centred when that happens, and doing so is a 100 times easier when you belong to a team who agree on a central value system and are willing to stand together and have each other’s backs.
Just like children are subconsciously attracted to boundaries, so are adults.  When people know what to expect, they feel comfortable and secure – whether they agree with you or not.  It’s then down to their own choice as to whether they want to be a part of what you display or not, but such is the process that allows your tribe to gather to you.
Understanding how honesty, respect and integrity work hand in hand to earn trust is only one part of the equation though.  Actually, DOING it is the harder part.  How DO you get a team to work together in this way?  How do you create that space?
There’s only one option which makes it easy to know how to get started.  You do the one and only thing you can do – and you choose how YOU show up.  You demonstrate it.  You lead by example.  The number one thing that stops us achieving this mythical space we all want is that it takes vulnerability to obtain it.  Honesty requires vulnerability.  Respect requires vulnerability – especially if you have to ask what’s needed.  Integrity means vulnerability when you choose to stand behind your beliefs consistently.  And vulnerability is distinctly uncomfortable.  No one wants to be vulnerable in a space that may tear that vulnerability apart.
The funny thing is though, that once one person starts showing it, you give licence and create space for the rest of the team to do the same.  That vulnerability is a weakness is an excuse we all use as to why we don’t do it.  It takes a hell of a lot of courage to be vulnerable.  To be honest.  To be true.  Courage requires strength, not weakness!  That courage is what starts to create the safe space.
The only way we create the space is to demonstrate and live these things ourselves.  To lead.  To continue to demonstrate them even when others don’t.  To set the standard.  Raise the bar.  And allow others to rise.  It takes so much less energy to be authentic, to be honest, to be respectful, than it does to try and negotiate every second of the day differently.  And all the energy we save is more energy we can channel into being productive.  Not only do we save ourselves energy by taking up this stand, but the energy you and your team RE-charge with comes from the same place.  Creating this environment yourself (each of us) enables other team members to show up more fully engaged and contribute their energy to the growing pool of energy, rather than us all expending energy trying to work out what we don’t know and need to watch for.
In addition, when you achieve this, all sorts of people will want to be a part of it – and that includes your ideal client.  So, what do you stand for and how are you actioning it so that people can feel it coming out the other end of your communication, process and product?  What are the literal actions involved in demonstrating your values?
Incidentally, this works exactly the same on a personal level as it does in business.  What do you stand for?  What’s most important to you and how can you personally step forward with honesty, respect and integrity so that your contribution sends a ripple out and challenges others to do the same?

By Christen Killick

February 10th, 2020


  1. Tracy Davidson on August 3, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    We have the following team names and am looking for an additional name to add: Confidence, Respect, Integrity, Merit, Kindness, Tenacity,

    • Christen Killick on August 4, 2022 at 6:54 am

      Hi Tracy. Those are great names! I’ll email you with a few thoughts.

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