What Can A Trust Creed Deliver?

By October 25, 2014Leadership

I want to be a trust activist. Being one is challenging though and raises questions on two fronts:

  • How will others know?
  • How will I know how I am doing?

Being a trust activist means:

  • Consistency of character: actions equal words, and words equal actions
  • Embraces the truth, tells the truth
  • Honest, forthright relationships
  • Solves issues in a timely way

Trust Gets Simply Complicated

Most believe trust is simple. Just be consistent in what you say and do. However, trust is complicated. We are surrounded by corporate cultures that thrive on political maneuverings. Communities embrace certain people because they meet some phony standard of appearance and affluence. The result is some may do or say things that don’t match their standard of trust. Trust becomes secondary to fitting in or surviving re-organizations and downsizings.

In complicated situations, simplicity rules. Remembering this is essential.

A way to keep focus on the simple power of trust is to write down your creed of trust. What trust principles will you live and leave by? Living trust is about how you exemplify it in your leadership and daily (inter)actions. Leaving relates to walking away from certain organizations or other relationships because you can no longer keep your trust creed.

Let me be clear. A trust creed is not about being arrogant. A trust creed is what keeps you grounded and empowers you and those around you to be better leaders and individuals.

My Trust Creed

I have thought about my trust creed for several weeks, and here is the result.

Trust CreedTrust myself. By trusting myself, I understand my core beliefs and am comfortable in leading consistently by them. In addition to this, I know I have a position on certain issues and solutions, and I should be confident in what I think while being open to changing when better information and insights are presented. This is a mix of being confident in my present reality and being growth-oriented toward the future.

Be transparent in circumstances and information. Part of transparency is providing all available information to team members so they can do the best, most complete job possible. Another part of transparency is being honest about environmental and market changes and setting a tone of “let’s work together” to solve with resolve. Embedded in each is a strong dose of empathy, listening intently to subject matter experts, customers, market changes, competitive shifts, and more. With empathy, the wealth of insight increases and fosters the responsibility of greater transparency in working with others.

Build relationships, no matter what. All relationships can be tricky. We need them yet we ignore them when challenges arise. Work relationships turn to friendships so we don’t want to damage them, leaving critical issues unaddressed. We want to be truthful and transparent but will bearing all keep a relationship strong? This is why relationships are tricky. This is why trusted relationships are a must.

Relationships take mutual effort. Both must be calm in understanding and focused on what the real issues are.

Never leave an issue unresolved. Kicking an issue down the road solves nothing, other than paving the way for delayed action and greater frustration. If I leave issues unresolved, I damage my credibility. Responsible leaders solve issues or empower others to resolve them. In both ways, tangible accountability is required. No sliding by allowed, only steps forward to reaching a solution.

This is my trust creed. As I read through my words, the first thing I notice is that I rarely used the word “trust.” In many ways, this is a good thing. Trust is known more by what is done than what is said. If I do each of the four elements of my trust creed well, then my trustworthiness should grow.

How Am I Doing?

Self-awareness and self-reflection are key leadership capabilities, so the first check is to ask myself the question on how well I am doing against my trust creed. My assessment is a solid B grade. Where I struggle still is in the relationship element. Although I build good relationships, I don’t necessarily address the challenges that arise in a timely and forthright way. I am still working on this and taking cues from Dr. Henry Cloud on how to do this.

I am an imperfect leader. However, I know I try to do my best in all that I do. Knowing what my trust creed is raises my standard of leadership and delivers a path forward in what I need to continue to do and what I need to do better. Isn’t this a key way to lead in more honest and authentic ways?

A Trust Creed Delivers

A trust creed delivers a core to how we lead and live. By writing it down, the words will ring through in our words and actions. A trust creed will hold us self-accountable and raise our standard of leadership. A trust creed simplifies what we need to do and will let us know when the next line we cross is the one to a better organization and more authentic relationships.

Whether you are an older or younger leader, take the time to write your trust creed. Take the time to define how you will lead and live in trust and then embrace your creed fully.

What is your trust creed? How are you doing against it?


Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

Latest posts by Jon Mertz (see all)

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • David Sawyer says:

    “Trust becomes secondary to fitting in or surviving re-organizations and downsizings.” Sad but incredibly true. I’ve found that people respect personal integrity, possibly because it’s so hard to hang on to.

    • Jon M says:

      David, This is the exact reason we need to re-ignite the role of trust and how we need to lead with trust. Our times have been troubling, and we need to remember the basics of trust. Thank you for jumping in with your thoughts! Jon

  • Alli Polin says:

    You have me thinking about my own trust creed now, Jon. Grateful!

    I do think that there is an element for me of being a role model for trust with my children to grow future leaders who understand trust in motion and not simply as an empty buzzword.


    • Jon M says:

      Alli, A wonderful place to exemplify trust – your home. Being a role model for your children gives the future generation of leaders a sound foundation. I know you are delivering that every day! Thank you! Jon

  • Randy Conley says:


    As a fellow trust activist, I think your idea of developing a trust creed is phenomenal. The fact you rarely the word “trust” in your creed is very telling – trust is the outcome when we act in trustworthy ways. It reminds me of the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying.” We can implore people to trust us until we’re out of breath, but unless we behave in trustworthy ways, we’re just blowing hot air.

    Thanks for advancing my thinking by introducing the idea of a trust creed. I’m going to be pondering mine!


    • Jon M says:


      Such a key point! We need to act in a way in which our trust shines and backs up anything we say. Your leadership in trust sets such a great example, and I am grateful for all your engaging work. Most of all, I am grateful for the example you set! Jon

  • Samantha Hall says:

    Excellent post Jon. And a very important topic. Especially for me.

    As for how you are doing? So far so good, at least in my experience with you thus far!

    : )

    I have found that part of being a trustworthy person stems from the desire to WANT to be trusted. When people don’t care about being trustworthy or trusted, they won’t be.

    Or when a leader presumes that they can treat people however they want even though trust is shattered or fails to grow in the first place.

    Only when people truly understand just how vital it is to long lasting success in all forms of relationships, including creating environments that enhance creativity and innovation, will more people truly DESIRE to cultivate being trustworthy and giving trust a higher priority in life.

    Transparency is key. Yet NOT always easy. We have to go through the challenging process of being WILLING to be transparent ourselves and frankly, most of us were conditioned to deny what we really think and feel so this is what is in the way of being able to trust ourselves. To do so, we must reconnect with our internal world by paying attention to what our body is experiencing, and our feelings/emotions. Not in the way of submitting to them but learning to use them as the guidance system they are. We can’t take good care of ourselves if we are still denying what our bodies, hearts, minds and souls are experiencing in our day to day life.

    When we can be transparent with ourselves, it becomes much easier to be transparent with others. And I believe this is an EVOLUTION rather then a one time event. As you mentioned, you are aware of some of your own trouble spots and we all have them to varying degrees. And each new relationship or encounter we have will be new. A whole new experience with a whole new set of ‘rules’. Because the internal landscape of each person is completely different; being filled with their own unique life experiences.

    Again, fabulous post Jon. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jon M says:

      Great points, as usual, Samantha. If you have the desire to be trusted, then writing down your trust creed will make your desire more tangible. Writing down how you will live and lead a full-of-trust life will put some boundaries up along with goals to strive toward. It also delivers a checkpoint to keep improving and becoming more trustworthy.

      Transparency is tightly intertwined with trust, and it isn’t always easy. We just need to think through and make the best decisions possible based on our core beliefs and trust creed.

      Thanks for you engaging thoughts and comments!


Leave a Reply