The foundation of trust
A cohesive, trusting team can project success based on trust
I am excited these days! I’m driven by the potential of
what could be! A leadership team has chosen to embark
with me on a journey to become a more cohesive team.
Where we’ll go and how far we’ll go, we don’t yet know.
It’s a road trip with no clear destination in
mind. Not that there won’t be a destination,
but the team can’t quite see over the wall.
This wall is one that they have created over
time, a wall of old patterns of behavior that
keep them stuck in the mud. Until the wall
is scaled, they won’t be able to see the numerous possibilities. It is my job to help them
scale this wall.
There is one element that will be necessary
to navigate the wall to the new land of possibility: trust. 1 The Oxford English Dictionary
defines trust as the belief in the reliability,
truth, or ability of someone or something.
Although a succinct definition, this doesn’t
encompass the depth or complexity of trust.
Nor does it express its importance, for without
trust, the engine of any team is dysfunctional,
running at half power. Without trust, teams
are fragmented, working against one another
with no shared vision. They will attempt to climb the
wall, but will continually slip back into the mud, wearing
themselves out in their ineffective struggles.
EXPOSURE OF VULNERABILITY
Trust is the basis of all successful teams. 2 It takes trust
for individual team members to bring themselves fully
to their work every day. Everyone needs to feel safe and
valued in order to let their authentic selves and talents
shine. In a trusting environment, behavior is respectful
even in times of conflict. Trust can be misunderstood
and is hard to define. Over the past few years of writing
for RDH magazine, I have touched on the need for trust
in dental offices—but have not given it justice. I recently
discovered a video by Professor Brené Brown, PhD,
LMSW, that helped to clarify what trust means to me.
Dr. Brown, a research professor at the University of
Houston, has created a word and acronym that she uses
when discussing trust: BRAVING. The meaning behind
this term speaks to me, because we brave a connection
with someone else when we trust them. If what I share
with you is important
to me, I have exposed
myself to you. This
exposure of my own
that I be brave and
trust that you will
honor me, keep things
in confidence, and
not hurt me. I am
braving a connection
with you. Dr. Brown
breaks the word
down further as an
I trust you are clear
about your boundaries and stick to them,
and I am clear about
my boundaries and you respect them.
• R: Reliability. I trust you if you do what you say you
are going to do, and do it often. I need to know that
you will follow through on your word and commitments. You need to be thoughtful about your commitments and take seriously your own word. Reliability
is seen through consistent actions.
• A: Accountability. I can only trust you if when you
make a mistake, you are willing to own it, apologize
for it, and make amends. To hold onto your trust, I
too must be willing to take ownership.
• V: Vault. I trust you if you hold in confidence what I
share with you. Alternately, I hold what you share in
confidence. You put one another’s heartfelt feelings,
beliefs, and secrets in a vault, and hold them sacred.
• I: Integrity. I cannot trust you if you don’t act from
MPA, is an innovation
strategy sessions and
forums to orchestrate
change within dentistry.
As an international
speaker and writer,
Dorothy trains others to
broaden their skill-set to
and forward thinking. She
engagement is the
outcome when the
mechanisms are put in
place to drive new
innovations. Connect with
her at dgarlough@
ca or visit
Trust must be
care. It needs
to be guarded
and built in the
small things, so
that each team
that when the big
need arises, trust