Building Trust

Building Trust
by Shan Moorthi, 2nd Vice President IAC

Keys7VOICETrust_072017.jpgStarting a journey as an Executive Coach is probably one of the most challenging yet stimulating tasks I have ever undertaken. From the word go, I found myself posing a number of questions and one of the most difficult one was this: Does my Coachee trust me? And, if indeed I am being trusted, how would I know this? What signs should I be looking for to be sure that trust exists? The answers came to me later on in the process when I started learning the IAC Coaching Masteries®. It was then that everything became crystal clear.

The International Association of Coaching defines Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust as ‘Ensure a safe space and supportive relationship for personal growth, discovery and transformation’.  Coachees will only respond openly and be willing to share and express freely when they trust their Coach.  As a Coach, I have found that Coachees are not as open during the first or second session as you would probably want them to be. This is because we have not established the level of trust between us and the coachee which would ensure that the latter may feel safe.  

The responsibility of building and maintaining the trust lies on the Coach. The Coach needs to demonstrate through his presence and actions that he is trustworthy.  But the question is, how do I, as a Coach, increase the level of trust? Inevitably, during these initial engagements, I was continuously looking for ways to gain a deeper understanding of the concept of trust and to share it with others as I train leaders to become coaches.

Interestingly, as I was researching materials relating to trust,  I came across a great book called the Trusted Advisor by  David H. Maister, Robert Galford and  Charles W. Green.  

The book introduces the Trust Equation: 

Trustworthiness = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
 Self – Orientation


The authors postulate that to increase your trustworthiness, you need to increase your credibility, reliability and intimacy while reducing your self-orientation.   As a Coach I started to reflect on how I can adapt the ‘Trust Equation’ to increase my trustworthiness.  Following are some of my thoughts and suggestions to build trust in a coaching relationship.

To increase Credibility:

  • Continuously develop our coaching competencies
  • Actively involve ourselves in a Coaching Community of Practice such as our local IAC Chapter
  • Pursue Professional Certifications and qualifications
  • Participate in discussion forums, conferences and webinars to stay current
  • Conform to ethics and values

To increase Reliability:

  • Be Punctual
  • Demonstrate professional presence
  • Take ownership of the coaching process and program
  • Provide right and timely support structure
  • Provide timely feedback
  • Be authentic
  • Focussed on the results desired by the Coachee

To increase Intimacy:

  • Respect and maintain confidentiality
  • Active listening to sense beyond what has been said
  • Validate and provide affirmation
  • Acknowledge and respect fears and blockers
  • Demonstrate empathy
  • Total presence, Body, Mind and Sprit/Heart

To decrease Self-Orientation, avoid the following

  • Rushing the coachee to state action plans
  • Leading the Coachee to solutions preferred by the Coach
  • More concern on the Coach’s own personal agenda
  • Talks more and listen less
  • Listening to reply than to understand
  • Trying to impress the Coachee
  • Sharing personal stories that does not add value to the Coachee
  • Focussed on the coaching business than to serve the coachee
  • Self-praise
  • Intimidating the Coachee

Building trust is a continuous and consistent effort throughout the coaching process. As coaches we need to pay attention to and be mindful of whatever we say and do. We need to be congruent and constantly align our intentions to the coaching process to achieve the results that the coachee desires.

We must also be mindful that we are there to unlock the potential of our coachees. Thus, we need to trust them and believe that they have the inner potential to achieve their individual goals.

“Trust is not a matter of technique, but of character; we are trusted because of our way of being, not because of our polished exteriors or our expertly crafted communications.” – Marsha Sinetar

Shan Moorthi is a Professional Trainer, Facilitator and Performance Coach, located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.   He founded Teamcoach International in 1998, an Organization specializing in  Leadership Development and Executive Coach training.  Shan Moorthi is the 2nd Vice President of the IAC.
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