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In this episode, we talk about something so fundamental in Coaching that it is easily overlooked. What makes coaching effective is not technique, it is something way more profound: It is Trust.

Trust in Manager-employee relationships is a bit like water to a fish. When it is there, we don’t think about it much. However, when it is missing, everything breaks down.

In this episode, we talk about the 3 types of trust that a great Leader Coach has and the relationship between Coaching and Trust.

So what are these 3 types of trust?

1) Self-Trust in your ability to coach

We have to have a certain confidence in our ability to be in that vital, helpful role of someone who uses INQUIRY as an important toolkit element to help others. Don’t let that imposter syndrome distract you from the fact that you have great listening skills in you and that you can activate genuine curiosity in another person. These two things alone will make a world difference.

What helps to build that trust further? Practice and Feedback, two strong ingredients for growth in your ability to impact.

2) Trust in your Team Member/Coachee

You might be surprised how many People Leaders find it hard to see real potential in others and act on that. As humans, we are often wired for negativity bias. What that means for a Manager is that they focus on ‘fixing’ their team member’s flaws with methods of direction or training. However, when your team members feel that you genuinely believe that they can deliver something great, it acts like a key to a closed door. It opens up intrinsic motivation, one of the most powerful forces that a coach wants to draw on in their coaches.

This element of trust is as close to the fundamental coaching mindset as it gets. If you don’t believe in someone’s ability to perform and develop, any number of coaching questions won’t work. People will see right through you and you end up destroying trust, rather than building more.

3) The third type of trust is trust in the Coaching Process itself.

Often, when a team member asks us for advice and help, we simply ‘feel’ that it is more useful to just speak our mind, mentor from our experience or tell them outright what you think they should do. We don’t give the coaching process a chance to develop its beautiful long-term impact. This trust is about you knowing that the process of inquiry and establishing accountability has great merit. You also know that you will likely feel more uneasy in as a new Leader Coach because using this skill means giving up some control over the conversation.

But how are Trust and Coaching actually related?

In my workshops where I help Leaders learn Coaching Skills, I usually draw a graph that relates trust and coaching efficiency.

The essential idea is this: Coaching requires trust to work well. If there is low trust, your coaching efforts will yield very little results and you are better advised to do whatever it takes to address the actual trust issue between yourself and your team member.

When your level of trust with a team member crosses a ‘magical’ line when rapport is present, things will simply start to fly. If your team member does not have to worry about the intent of your coaching, they will open up and will become more willing to risk.

What is the practical advice and relevance for you as a Leader Coach?

Before your next 1-1 with a team member, assess the degree of trust you have with this person. If trust is low: what can you do to create some more psychological safety in that meeting? If trust is high: What should I do to maintain and strengthen this relationship further?

TIP: Seeing the other person as a real person, remembering key dates of their personal life and simply what was discussed and agreed upon in the LAST meet-ups goes a long way. In fact, I would argue if you do this consistently, you will perform better than 98% of Leaders out there.


Resources: Stephen Covey: The Speed of Trust |

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