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How to apply first principles to your coaching practice

Trust Is the New Currency: Principles for Building Trust


Trust has become an invaluable currency in today’s fast-paced and interconnected business world. As an executive coach, I have witnessed the transformative power of trust in organizations and individuals. This blog post will explore two fundamental principles that contribute to building trust: Intention and the BRAINS framework. Understanding and implementing these principles can elevate leadership, promote collaboration, and foster lasting relationships.

Principle 1: Intention – The Power of Thoughtful Action

Intention is the guiding force behind our thoughts, words, and actions. It is the conscious choice to approach interactions with authenticity, sincerity, and a genuine desire for positive outcomes. When our intentions align with our actions, trust flourishes naturally.

Intentionality starts with self-reflection and self-awareness. Understanding our motivations and desires allows us to set clear intentions for our interactions with others. It requires a deep understanding of our values, goals, and the impact we want to create in our professional and personal lives.

When we operate with positive intentions, we set the stage for trust to thrive. People can sense authenticity and are more likely to trust those who are genuine in their words and actions. This trust is essential in fostering meaningful relationships and building strong teams.

Intentionality also extends to active listening and empathy. By approaching conversations to understand, rather than simply respond, we create an environment where others feel heard and valued. This deepens connections and builds trust, as individuals know their perspectives and contributions are genuinely appreciated.

However, it’s important to note that intention does not guarantee trust. Trust is built over time through consistent actions and demonstrated integrity. While good intentions are a starting point, they must be accompanied by follow-through and accountability to establish a track record of trustworthiness.

Principle 2: Building Trust with the BRAINS Framework

To build trust effectively, we can turn to the BRAINS
framework, which represents key elements of the trust-building process.

B – Boundaries: The Foundation for Sound Decisions

Establishing boundaries is essential for making informed decisions. We create a framework that guides us by defining our limits and understanding our values. Boundaries enable us to make choices aligned with our principles, enhancing trust in ourselves and others. Here are some guidelines:

    • Clearly define and communicate expectations and limits in professional relationships.

    • Setting personal time and work-life balance boundaries to maintain well-being and avoid burnout.

    • Establishing guidelines for respectful communication and behavior within a team or organization.

    • Disclosing meaningful professional vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

Many people confuse professional collegial relationships with friendships. Your peers, directors, and bosses are not your friends. While you should be friendly, save venting for your partner and friends at home. “Good fences make good neighbors.”

R – Reliability: Honoring Strengths and Weaknesses

Recognizing our strengths and weaknesses and being honest about limitations is crucial to maintaining reliability. Overcommitting can lead to compromised trust. By understanding our capabilities and being realistic about our commitments, we demonstrate reliability and build trust over time. If you commit to doing something, then follow through and do it. If you cannot keep your word, communicate that as soon as possible and never wait until the last minute.

A – Accountability: Owning Mistakes and Growth

Accountability is the cornerstone of trust. Taking responsibility for our actions, including admitting mistakes, fosters trust in ourselves and others. By cultivating a culture of accountability where everyone feels comfortable admitting mistakes, we encourage growth, learning, and increased trust within teams and organizations.

I – Integrity: Transparency and Confidentiality

Integrity is vital for building trust. Holding the right level of transparency and confidentiality demonstrates trustworthiness. We trust people who hold confidentiality when entrusted with sensitive information. We do not trust people who gossip or share information not meant to be disclosed. You have all worked with loose-lipped people at some point in your career. Can you ever trust that person? If the information coming from your mouth is not yours to share, then “zip it”. 

N – Non-Judgment: Compassionate Detachment for Growth

Allowing space for growth requires non-judgment and compassionate detachment. While caring deeply, we must empower others to learn and grow through their mistakes and experiences. By practicing non-judgment, we cultivate an environment that encourages risk-taking, innovation, and increased trust and demonstrates empathy and understanding when individuals face challenges or setbacks.  A trusting and healthy environment encourages open dialogue and feedback without fear of judgment or retribution.

S- Self-reflection

Self-reflective practices within teams weave a fabric of trust foundational for collaboration and success. By embracing self-awareness, team members unveil their strengths and weaknesses and cultivate a culture of authenticity and vulnerability, encouraging honest exchanges and mutual growth. This reflection fosters clearer communication, ensuring that words are chosen carefully, enhancing empathy, and preventing misunderstandings. Accountability becomes a shared value, as individuals willingly own their actions and decisions, fostering a sense of reliability and confidence among peers. Instead of being feared, conflicts are approached with a mindset geared towards resolution and understanding, promoting a healthy, transparent environment where issues are navigated with maturity. Moreover, self-reflection amplifies empathy, enabling team members to connect on deeper levels and appreciate diverse perspectives and challenges. In this reflective setting, feedback transforms into a constructive tool devoid of defensiveness, paving the way for continuous improvement. Leadership, imbued with self-reflection, models these virtues, reinforcing trust and integrity across the team. In essence, self-reflection acts as a catalyst, transforming individual insight into collective trust and driving teams towards greater cohesion and success.


Trust is not built overnight; it is an ongoing commitment that requires consistency and authenticity. As leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals, we must actively invest in trust-building to nurture relationships, foster collaboration, and drive meaningful change. Trust enables us to overcome challenges, navigate uncertainty, and unlock our collective potential.

As an executive coach, I invite you to embrace trust as the cornerstone of your leadership journey. By incorporating intention and the principles of the BRAINS framework into your interactions, you have the power to transform your professional and personal relationships. Let us forge a future where trust is revered, individuals thrive, and organizations achieve remarkable heights.

Remember, trust is the currency that fuels progress, collaboration, and success. By focusing on the principles of intention and utilizing the BRAINS framework, we can foster trust, strengthen relationships, and drive positive change. As an executive coach, I encourage leaders to embrace trust as the new currency, and together, we can create a future where trust is valued and practiced daily.