4 Filters Your Team Uses to Gauge Trust

by Jennifer Miller on July 19, 2012

in Leadership

Druler and penciloes your team see you as trustworthy? And, do you know what measuring stick team members are using to arrive at their conclusions?

For one, they’re checking out what direction your moral compass points. They’re watching to see if you:

  • Make decisions ethically
  • Display honesty
  • Treat people with respect
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Avoid blaming others

This is all well and good, but if you want to truly build trust with people, you need to kick it up a notch.


You see, it’s not enough to behave ethically to be seen as trustworthy.  You need to understand your team members’ unique trust filters, which they layer on top of their perceptions of your moral compass.

Think of it this way: all of the people you lead have natural preferences in the way they prioritize their work. For example, some folks are naturally more people-focused; others are more detail-oriented. Some people are hard-charging “get it done” types. Your team is viewing all of your actions through the filter of these natural preferences. If, as a leader, your actions don’t match up with their natural priorities, then you may not be fully trusted.

Is this fair? No, probably not. But it’s human nature. Learn to work with it and you’ll be seen as trustworthy, which will “grease the gears” of your team’s performance.

coffee filter

Here’s a quick run-down on the four trust filters at work.

The Quality filter

The yardstick for this filter is accuracy. “Anything worth doing is worth doing right” might be this person’s motto. In the eyes of people with a Quality filter, others who say things like “It’s good enough, let’s just keep moving” or “Don’t be so nitpicky!” fall short of meeting the Quality filter criteria.

The Getting Results filter

Achievement rules with people who use this filter to gauge trustworthiness.  To them, forward progress is even more desirable than getting it “perfect”. People who use Getting Results as a filter are annoyed by others who express, “We need to slow down” or “We need to gather more data”.

The Sociability filter

Interpersonal connection is the name of the game for people who screen using the Sociability filter. They believe that investing time upfront to create a strong personal bond will pay dividends later for productivity. The phrases “We don’t have time for idle chit-chat” or “That ‘warm and fuzzy’ stuff is just window dressing” makes them cringe.

The Dependability filter

People who use Dependability as a gauge are motivated by steady, consistent progress. Sudden changes are a turn-off and are often see as a sign of poor planning or hair-trigger reactions. “We’ve got to take action now” and “We’ll figure out the process later, let’s just throw something against the wall and see what sticks” are mindsets that don’t fly well with people who use this filter.


When it comes to trustworthiness, it goes without saying that a leader’s morals and ethics must be impeccable. That’s the bedrock of leading with character. Successful leaders can take trust-building to a new level when they pay attention to the unique ways their employees perceive their leader’s trustworthiness. By understanding the four filters of quality, getting results, sociability and dependability, leaders can take trust-building with their team to a whole new level.





Yardstick image: istockphoto.com

Coffee filter image: Terry Johnston / CC BY 2.0

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennifer Miller August 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm


Thanks for stopping by. It appears we both have a strong interest in the topic of trust building. I’m honored to have a member of the Ken Blanchard team weigh in here at The People Equation.

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