Trust vs. Communication

Trust vs. Communication by Stephen Hudak

Trust in any relationship is critical.  For a leader being trustworthy is, perhaps, the most important characteristic.  I would trust a decision from a trustworthy leader even if I wasn’t completely convinced it was the proper course of action.  On the other hand, someone who is not trustworthy will always keep me reserved in my actions, even if it is a sound plan as I will keep doubt in the back of my mind.

I had a former co-worker (in a higher position than me) tell me something in an email.  I did not think this was the best plan, but I did as he wished.  Later, when it failed, he tried to blame myself and others, but I was wise enough to keep his original email and sent is back to him and others.  I’m still waiting for his apology some 10-years later.

Seriously, I should feel as if I need to keep such email.  It makes me act in a negative and non-useful manner when this energy could be applied better.

Can trust exist without a great communicator?

I think the key word in the question is “great” communicator.  When I think of “great” communicators I think of Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  All are recognized as great communicators and leaders.  I also think of Calvin Coolidge, Silent Cal, who was not as flashy or spectacular as the others, yet was very effective as a leader.

Trust can be “positional” or “competency-based” as in I trust my doctor to treat me for heart problem, yet I would not want her to work on my car’s engine.  I trust her as a doctor even thought I know almost nothing about her personally that would make her trustworthy outside her medical degree.  She communicates medically, simply, and effectively, and is therefore a good communicator.


Can trust be built without communication?  Our company is owned by another company in Australia.  I’ve never met those leaders.  I only see a company-wide email on occasion.  I trust they are doing what needs to be done for our customers, stakeholders, and employees even though the communication is rare and sometimes jargon-filled.  Thus, I don’t consider them “great” communicators, yet I do seem them as being trustworthy.

One without the other is not good, but I’ll take trust over communication all day long.



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