Volume 13, April 2002: Trust and Integrity

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2002 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Integrity is about making agreements you can keep and keeping agreements you make.” — Werner Erhardt, Founder of est

“DWYSYWD (Do what you say you will do).” — James Kouzes & Barry Posner

“Deeds, not words, my son.” — Robin Hood’s father

“Actions speak louder than words.” — Mother

“Integrity is a fine sense of one’s obligations.” — Max Depree

According to a poll by TIME magazine, 70% of American workers trust no one in their organization.


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Walking the talk. Carefully matching what you do with what you say, noting that people will recall what you did long after they forgot what you said.
  • Investing trust in others. Being trustworthy is tied to trusting. If you delegate and don’t trust, your alternative is to control.
  • Honesty isn’t the best policy; it’s the only policy.
  • Mistakes are human. If you make one, admit it, apologize, state your intentions for the future and set your agreement back on course.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Do you know if you’re walking the talk? Employees often can’t hear what their bosses say because the actions speak too loudly. Check your blind spots – 360 degrees around you. Ask people to point up inconsistencies between what you say and do. One CEO from a well-known manufacturing company requested that his employees provide him feedback when he was not living up to the company values. What happened? The employees starting checking their own behavior first. An unintended outcome: accidents – which had been way too high – fell to zero.

Frequently Asked Questions

“Trust has been broken in my team. I’m at a loss. Where do we begin?”
Trust is so hard to earn and so easy to lose. The only place to begin is with communication. OPEN communication – telling the truth, leveling with each other, self-disclosing. Then establishing rules for communication in the future – e.g, "always bring problems with me to me first." I would recommend a facilitated meeting, in a safe, retreat setting.
“I really can’t trust some of my people to deliver what they promise. Should I write them off?”
All behavior occurs in a system. Begin to change the system, by talking about agreements. Employment is an agreement. Every relationship has an implicit agreement. Point up instances where people don’t deliver on their promises – meeting deadlines, making meetings on time, returning a phone call, producing a report. Make yourself the model of how to apologize when you break an agreement, or change the agreement to one you can keep.
“How do I enhance the trust in my organization?”
Here’s a simple exercise to try. Pull a group (or groups) together to study “What and Where Are Our Trust-related Issues.” Have the participants brainstorm in two columns:
Create Trust | Destroy Trust
After all ideas are exhausted, ask them to multi-vote three in each column that are most important. Use these as discussion fuel for new agreements about “how we treat each other around here.”


Key Associates offers a facilitated retreat process to help organizations identify and mediate trust-related issues in teams. Contact us for details.

TruthZone gives you the tools to become the master of your own destiny. It will show you how to change your situation, add greater value, and deal with the people and situations that stand in your way.

Check out the journal, Business Ethics: Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Call (612) 879-0695 for a trial issue. Find out more.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Public-I: The Center’s mission is to provide the American public with the findings of its investigations and analyses of public service, government accountability, and ethics-related issues. The Center’s books, reports, and newsletters uniquely combine political science and investigative reporting, unfettered by the usual time and space constraints.

Top Ten Reasons to Live a Life of Integrity: Examine the top ten reasons to live a life of integrity.

Why Integrity Matters: Integrity is defined as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; honesty.” The key to integrity is consistency – not only setting high personal standards for oneself (honesty, responsibility, respect for others, fairness) but also living up to those standards each day.


  • Annison, M.H. (1998). Trust Matters: New Directions in Health care Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Flynn, W. (1996). Truth Zone: Building the Truthful Organizational from the Bottom Up. Denver: Matrix Publishing.
  • Harvey, E. & Lucia, A. (1997). 144 Ways to Walk the Talk. Dallas: Performance Publishing Company.
  • Kouzes, James S. & Posner, Barry Z. (1995) Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. San Francisco Jossey-Bass, 1995.
  • Lynn, Adele B.  (1998) In Search of Honor – Lessons from Workers on How to Build Trust. Bajonhouse Publishing.
  • Marshall, Edward M. (1999) Building Trust at the Speed of Change: The Power of the Relationship- based Corporation. Amacom.
  • Morin, W.J. (1990). Trust Me. Orlando: Drake Beam Morin, Inc.
  • Reina, D.S. & Reina, M.L. (1999). Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace: Building Effective Relationships in Your Organization. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Ryan, Kathleen (1999) Building a Trust-based Organizational Culture. In M. K. Key, Managing Change in Healthcare: Innovative Solutions for People-based Organizations.Chicago: McGraw-Hill.
  • Ryan, Kathleen & Oestrich, Daniel K.  (1995) Driving Fear Out of the Workplace: Creating the High-Trust, High-Performance Organization.  San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
  • Shaw, Robert B. (1997) Trust in the Balance: Building Successful Organizations on Results, Integrity, and Concern. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Sonnenberg, Frank K. (1993) Managing with a Conscience: How to Improve Performance through Integrity, Trust , and Commitment. McGraw-Hill.


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