In this particular chapter in Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, he talks about trust and how trust forms a critical foundation for innovation and success. None of this is surprising to me. I’ve experienced and observed it in all the important relationships in my life, including my work environment.

Great organizations become great because the people inside the organization feel protected. The strong sense of culture creates a sense of belonging and acts like a net. People come to work knowing that their bosses, colleagues and the organization as a whole will look out for them. This results in reciprocal behavior. Individual decisions, efforts and behaviors that support, benefit and protect the long-term interest of the organization as a whole.

When I was in high school and wanting to stay out until all hours of the night I remember reaching an agreement with my father about what time I needed to be home. I remember him trusting me to come home at a certain time and emphasizing to me that if his ability to trust me became broken because I did not keep my word or honor our agreement, all the trust he had built up with me over the years would reset to zero.

It was the idea that over a series of years he had built experience upon experience with me that convinced him he could trust me. He made it very clear that if I ever broke that trust it wasn’t that would never trust me again or stop loving me, but that it would take a long time to recreate the trust we’d established. With that in mind, in a very fair way (not as shaming technique) he advised me to consider carefully the consequences of violating that trust.

That’s always made a lot of sense to me and something that is very important to my relationships too. I don’t think this is a special value I hold, I think it is fundamental to healthy, thriving relationships.

I’ve seen the setbacks breaking trust on small levels can have on personal relationships. Sometimes it stunts or slows down the relationship’s growth. Other times it causes a temporary set back.

It’s hard not to see very direct parallels to work relationships and the relationship people have with the company or group of people they work with. In my experience one of the fastest ways to ruin the dynamics of a well functioning team is the spread of distrust (intentionally or unintentionally) between managers and their reportees and team member to team member.