Why a Professional Circle of Trust is Essential for Business

Trust is a vital ingredient in any successful business – even more so than your product or service. It’s a powerful force that boosts productivity, drives sales, and leads to your ultimate success. 

Effective leaders know that trust is the cornerstone upon which the greatest relationships are built; however, in business, an “every man for himself” mentality often develops in which distrust and competition replace the circle of trust and cooperation. 

If you want to avoid this in your own organization, you need to build and manage a professional circle of trust that will help you develop stronger relationships with your peers and other stakeholders so you can work together to propel your business to success. 

If this is something that sounds appealing, read the rest of this article where we discuss the professional circle of trust in greater detail.  In it, you’ll learn about the benefits trust can bring to your brand, its culture, and reputation, as well as how trust can be built between professional leaders.  You’ll also find out how to identify red flags that someone is untrustworthy and discover how to professionally sever business relationships with people who have proven themselves untrustworthy.

Benefits of a Professional Circle of Trust

Businesses need to build trust everywhere – not just within the organization, but also with existing and potential customers. Trust is the most important business and brand asset you manage, and here’s why: 

Trust Creates Goodwill: When business leaders trust each other, they spend much less time and effort protecting themselves from exploitation by the other party, and both sides get better economic outcomes in collaborations and negotiations.

Trust Minimizes Miscommunications: Communications are rarely ever black-and-white, which means there’s always room for misunderstandings to occur. There are a lot of different perspectives and interpretations when people get together for the problem-solving process, but having trust minimizes the chance of someone misinterpreting the intention behind any message.

Building trust also comes with the following benefits:

  • Trust facilitates transactions to occur
  • It helps you develop more intimate relationships
  • It’s a powerful force that helps you build influence
  • Trust is pivotal in helping leaders keep teams 
  • It helps salespeople get more sales

From the reasons outlined above, it’s clear to see that trust is an important pillar in any business. Yet, in spite of the many benefits it brings, few leaders understand the impact it can have on the bottom line of a business – which is why they fail to give it the focus it deserves.

If you want to reap the benefits trust brings, you must be able to build and maintain trust with other business leaders. You also need an effective way to identify when other people around you are being untrustworthy and have methods for professionally severing those ties. 

And that’s exactly what we’ll cover in the rest of this article. 

How to Build Trust Between Professional Business Leaders

The trust you have with your colleagues and peers is often hard-won. But, with a simple and clear strategy, you can begin to build trust between you and other business professionals. This trust will be based on each of your understanding of your business, values, needs, and priorities. 

Before you can start building trust between professional business leaders, you need to understand that every person enters into a business relationship in order to fulfill their needs. In fact, these principles apply whether you are dealing with other business leaders, employees, prospects, clients, partners, or other stakeholders.

You must first do your research to understand the other person’s needs so you can establish and nurture a strong relationship that will foster the kind of trust that is fundamental to your business’s genuine success. Once that’s established, you can then begin to build trust with other professional business leaders in your space using these six pillars:

  • Clarity: People trust clear messages and mistrust ambiguous ones.
  • Character: Do what’s right over what’s easy.
  • Compassion: People trust in those who care beyond themselves.
  • Competency: Inspire confidence by staying relevant and capable.
  • Connection: People love to be around, follow, and buy from friends.
  • Consistency: Do the little things done consistently to inspire faith in yourself.

By practicing these pillars, you’ll be well on your way to building trust among your peers. But, you might be wondering: Do you need all six elements of trust? 

You don’t have to be perfect to become an exceptional leader but, in order to generate a high level of trust, you must be above average on all six of these elements as they will predict whether you’re trusted as a leader by your colleagues, peers, and direct reports. 

Note that you will likely have a stronger preference for some elements over others, however, it’s important to keep in mind that since you need to be above average on all of them, you’re probably better off working to improve the particular skills that you are not very good at instead of focusing on the ones you perform well.

Building Trust with Business Leaders from Other Cultures

While we’re on the subject of building trust between professional business leaders, it’s also important to note that sometimes you may be faced with a situation where you need to build trust with a potential partner outside of your business. You should keep in mind that culture often influences the decision-making process, and you’ll find that people in different cultures respond differently when determining whether or not a potential business ally is trustworthy.

So, for example, you might find that the different cultures from across the globe value different elements of trust, such as:

  • European and North American Cultures: Openness
  • South Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures: Respect
  • East Asian Cultures: Competency
  • Latin American Cultures: Shared Values

Business leaders need to take these cultural differences into consideration and adjust their strategies accordingly when deciding whether to trust a potential partner.

How to Identify Red Flags for Untrustworthy People

Trust should never be extended blindly, but regardless of how well-intentioned your trust-building efforts are, you will likely come across some people who fail to reciprocate in kind. If you assessed an individual’s trustworthiness before deciding to extend your trust to them, it’s up to you to see that they continue to display trustworthiness in all areas, including competence, character, consistency, etc.

However, if someone that you allowed into your circle of trust has taken advantage of it, you may have to sever that relationship so it doesn’t have a negative impact on your business. But before you can sever the relationship, you must first be able to identify red flags of untrustworthy people. 

Here are 5 of the clearest signs that you’re dealing with someone not worthy of your trust:

  1. They Breach Confidentiality: Listen to what the person says about others. If they are always complaining about others, then they might also say things about you that undermine your reputation. 
  2. They Show a Lack of Empathy: When interacting with others, most untrustworthy people show a distinct lack of empathy. They tend to diminish the inconvenience, damage, or pain they cause others – it’s simply all about them, and they don’t give much consideration to the people whom their actions affect.
  3. They Are Inconsistent and Fickle When it comes to decision-making, untrustworthy people often have a volatile emotional state and show a pattern of fickleness and inconsistency in their decisions.

Once you’ve used these red flags to weed out the trustworthy from the untrustworthy, it’s time to sever the relationships that don’t make the cut and enforce boundaries to protect yourself when dealing with the individual in the future.

How to Professionally Sever Business Relations with Untrustworthy People

When it comes to dealing with unethical people, oftentimes you may be forced to continue working with them. But, whenever possible, it’s in your best interest to sever the relationship completely so you can minimize the damage done to you. 

The first step is to confront the behavior and then take the necessary action to address the impact. Just remember, instead of allowing a knee-jerk reaction to fire your missiles, rather slow down and create a plan for a course of action that allows you to sever the relationship with the untrustworthy party while remaining professional. 


Trust is a powerful force that drives everything in your business. It’s fundamental to your success and lack of trust could turn out to be your biggest expense. In fact, you’ll find it hard to reach high levels of effectiveness and productivity in your business without high levels of trust. That’s why it’s crucial to invest time in building a professional circle of trust by focusing on the six elements mentioned in this article. 

When building your professional circle of trust, keep in mind that it won’t happen all at once. Real trust takes work and is the natural result of a lot of tiny thoughts, intentions, words, and actions.

Are you ready to start giving your circle of trust the attention and nurturing it needs so you can reap the rewards trust brings? Sound off below!


Ron Stefanski
Ron Stefanski
Ron Stefanski is a digital entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online businesses.  You can learn more from him by visiting

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. I am so grateful that you included the cultural aspect in this, Ron, because it is really difficult to regain trust once it is lost, and if losing it was from not doing cultural homework, what a waste.

    In my experience people come in two very different categories: Those that start their relationship at 0 and let your positive actions post into the trust account but a faux pas at the beginning of a relationship is a relationship killer – and those that start with a balance and you can add and deduct from the account. The latter will more likely than the first assume that communication gone awry is exactly that and not an attempt to manipulate.

  2. Congratulations on the wonderful article.
    Thanks for drawing our attention to this interesting subject so inspiring and deserving the utmost consideration.
    This is a real good read and there is a lot one can agree with.
    Trust is an asset, besides being a value.
    It must be intentionally built.
    It can not be a fiction: being credible on the outside presupposes credibility within one’s own interior.
    Employees are the first partners
    Trust plays such an important role not only in private life, but also in working life.
    Trust is reliability, it’s believing in yourself, it’s believing in others, it’s a profound personal value. Trust is loyalty, it’s congruence, it’s integrity. Trust is inspiration. Trust is energy, enthusiasm, commitment.
    Our life is made of relationships and relationships are based on trust. Without trust it is difficult for them to last over time, be they business relationships or private relationships.
    I like to talk about “choice” in trust because somehow everything starts with us. We choose to be a certain type of person and gain the trust of others with our behaviors. With our actions, we transmit credibility and inspire others to come closer to us. Trust is based on who we are, not who we pretend to be.
    In the moment in which confidence is breathed, one is considered a credible, integral, authentic person and with ease one will in turn be able to recognize this value in others. And you can choose.