Building Higher Trust 132 Building Trust When Your Boss Doesn’t

September 29, 2023

What can you do if your boss isn’t building trust? In my work with leaders who are trying to build higher trust, I often hear the following complaint. A manager will say, “Your material is excellent, but my boss does things that destroy trust almost daily.”

This conundrum is not as rare as you might think. It is actually a common problem.

Tips on building trust when your boss doesn’t

Recognize you are not alone

Nearly every company is under extreme pressure these days.  The condition was exacerbated by the recent pandemic. Coming out of the pandemic lockdown, many leaders forced attendance rules on a population that was not receptive. These rigid rules lowered trust in many organizations.

When your boss isn’t building trust, it is difficult to fix

My favorite quote on this problem is attributed to George Bernard Shaw. “Never wrestle a pig. You get all muddy and the pig loves it.” The best approach is to suggest that approaches do exist that can produce better results.

You might suggest some leadership training, but that direct approach will likely backfire.  Most managers with low emotional intelligence have a huge blind spot. They simply do not recognize themselves as the source of their problems.

Book review lunch club

One approach that sometimes helps is to form a lunch and learn group where everyone, including the boss, is given some training. It helps if the boss gets to nominate the first couple of books for review.

Don’t whine that the boss is clueless

Complaining does not help people in the organization feel better.

Operate a high-trust operation in the environment you influence

Lead by example. Establish a great culture of trust within your group. Demonstrate the power of an excellent culture for all to see. Keep a positive attitude, even though it can be tough at times. Groups that enjoy high trust are usually upbeat and positive. They are also more than twice as productive.


If your boss is not an expert at building a high-trust organization you have a tricky situation. Considering the boss as the enemy will take you in the wrong direction. Use the tips above to make notable progress in your culture. Everyone will thank you for it.

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust.  He is the author of: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind.  Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at, or 585.392.7763.