Tip Sheet: Three pillars for building trust and leadership

Frances Frei is a professor of technology and operations management at Harvard Business School and a culture consultant who has worked with companies like Uber and WeWork. In a recent episode of “The TED Interview” podcast, she discussed how building trust is a necessary but not sufficient part of being a leader.

Frei also identifies love and belonging as other factors in leadership but says there are three important pillars to developing trust:


Frei says that if people sense that a leader is largely self-interested, instead of interested in those they are talking to, it will make the difference in whether the leader is trusted or not.

“If you don’t totally reveal that I get you, I see you and I’m doing this for you, then nobody is going to trust you and you’re already lowering the bounds of how much you’re getting out of everyone,” she said.


“It’s really hard for people to have faith in your logic if you don’t give them some amount of transparency to it,” Frei said. “Trust me. ‘I’ll do it’ doesn’t work anymore.”

She said the need for younger employees to understand more of a company’s business model than in the past is an example of trust requiring logic.


Frei said people can easily see when a leader is not being authentic or doesn’t believe in the message they are sharing and that will erode trust. She also cautioned that it is easy to be so empathetic to what someone wants to hear that a leader loses sight of being true to who they are.

“The trouble with that is even if it feels good in the moment, it’s not going to help anyone in the long run,” she said.

Listen to the podcast at: www.ted.com/talks/the_ted_interview_frances_frei_s_three_pillars_of_leadership

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