CULTURE: Exploring the Difference Between Trust-Earning and Trust-Giving Cultures. Which Is Better?

28 August 2023 Victoria Butt

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Exploring the Difference Between Trust-Earning and Trust-Giving Cultures. Which Is Better?

In the dynamic landscape of today's professional world, where a staggering 80% [1] of professionals remain open to new opportunities, organisations are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to retain their top-performing talents. Central to the success of functional and positive working relationships is the bedrock of trust, yet this essential connection can unravel all too swiftly.

A fascinating concept that piques my interest revolves around the notion of cultures as either trust-earning or trust-giving, and the perpetual question: which one holds the upper hand?

A trust-earning culture embodies an organisation or team dynamic where trust is not just passively assumed but actively fostered and earned among its members. It entails nurturing relationships grounded in attributes such as credibility, integrity, transparency, and reliability. In this realm, both individuals and teams consistently exhibit their trustworthiness through their actions, communication, and unwavering accountability.

On the other hand, a trust-giving culture signifies an organisation or team environment where trust flows freely, extended to others without the demand for a prior demonstration of trustworthiness. This approach initiates with a presumption of trust, allowing individuals to showcase their capabilities and steadfastness over time. In this sphere, people willingly embrace vulnerability, openly share information, and engage in collaborative endeavours without the shackles of judgment or trepidation.

Both these paradigms boast their own set of strengths, with most organisations naturally possessing a blend of both within various facets, often determined by the leadership at the helm and those who set the tone.

Characteristics of Leadership in a Trust-Earning Culture:

— Entrepreneurs and owner-operator leaders,
— Imposing high expectations upon themselves and their team,
— Once trust is established, this type of leader transforms into a fiercely loyal and generous ally.

Characteristics of Leadership in a Trust-Giving Culture:

— More frequently encountered in larger organisations,
— Spearheaded by highly experienced leaders who have reaped the benefits of immediately extending trust,
— Primarily focused on outcomes, with less concern over the specifics of individuals or methods involved.

In this delicate balancing act, the value of both these cultural dimensions is undeniable. What ultimately matters, however, is a profound comprehension of which culture resonates most profoundly with your own potential and that of your team. Ensuring alignment with an organisation, or even a sub-culture, that mirrors your ideals is pivotal.


[This article was crafted by Parity Consulting's Founder & CEO, Victoria Butt, reflecting the company's commitment to excellence in recruitment across diverse domains including product management, marketing, communications, digital management, and data analysis. We specialise in serving industries such as asset management, wealth management, banking, payments, insurance, superannuation, fintech, digital services, software, and SaaS development, from our base in Sydney, Australia.]

Feel free to reach out to Victoria Butt on +61 402 418 326 or

[1] Parity Consulting, Salary Guide & Predictions 2023-24