The Speed of Trust

"The world is changing very rapidly, the world is dominated by exponential trends, and businesses are turned upside down." The only way to keep up with these disrupted forces is trust. And that is why Trust is the first pivotal principle that we teach at the Semco Style Institute. This principle is very simple: the people we work with make very difficult and complex decisions every day in their daily, personal lives: about raising children, buying a house, And we trust them to make the right decisions. Then why can’t we trust them to make the right decisions in their professional lives? 

Trust accelerates learning, boosts engagement, enables collaboration, sparks long term commitment, reduces risk as well as costs, and improves performance. It’s about giving people the responsibility to make their own decisions, and having faith that they will be up to that responsibility. It may be scary, because it also means letting go of control. But if you need to check or report everything you do, get your boss to sign off on every response to changing circumstances, or conversely need to instruct your team how to operate and react because they are used to being told what to do rather than trusting on their own judgement, you and your team will fall behind rapidly.

How to approach Trust?

If you want to increase trust within your organization, there’s three Semco Style ways to approach it, three levers you can pull: vested self interest, unfiltered transparency, and contemporary governance.     

Vested self Interest

In a traditional economic view on trust, self-interest stands in the way of trust, as peoples personal interest would be to maximize profits while minimizing efforts. Semco Style adopts a different view. We believe that open communication about personal interests helps people to serve personal and company interests in a way that reinforces achievement of both. Also, when personal contribution to company goals is measured and explicit, personal and company goals and interests will easily align.


  • Be willing to support the interests of others, as well as your own.
  • Take the time to inquire about and understand concerns, and communicate the way you can address these concerns.
  • Discuss and construct performance criteria using a bottom-up approach.

Unfiltered transparency

Set your default to "open". Facts are better than visions or opinions: they will correct behaviour before a mission statement does. Leadership begins with giving people the opportunity to confront the brutal facts of current reality and to act on the implications. Unfiltered Transparency is the way to show that you mean business when you say you want to operate on trust. This includes being transparent about the numbers such as salaries, expenses and profits. It also means people should understand the financial statements of the organization, and get frequently updated.  


  • Increase the openness, frequency and equality of your communication of outside-information and financial performance.
  • Increase your use of inquiry and decrease your use of advocacy.
  • Share risk and seek input from collective wisdom when risk is high.  

Contemporary Governance

Management, board structures, standards and procedures have the tendency to freeze in patterns of behaviour, which increases predictability but hinders adaptability. Semco Style advocates a flexible approach to governance


  • Transmit board meetings in a live video feed.
  • Work with open invitations for all meetings for everybody. Don’t fear it will turn into a mess: soon enough, only those who can contribute or benefit will attend.
  • Provide mentoring support for colleagues facing difficult decisions and dilemmas. 


There are many practical ways to work an abstract, yet fundamental principle like trust. Have we tickled your interest, please feel free to contact us at any time. During the Changemakers and Master training programs you can learn everything there is to know about this and the other four pivotal principles.

Share this article on social media