Life, Liberty, & Happiness

Just Trust Me!


rust and integrity are two deeply connected concepts that largely define how we are seen by others. Although interconnected, they are different, and a clear understanding of them can help you to build credibility in the workplace.

Trust is the degree to which you can predict someone or something. When it comes to people, what you are assessing is how well you can predict what they will do or, how they will react, to a given situation. Will they do what they say they will do? Will they keep your secrets? Will they tell you the truth?  Trust is a key element in establishing credibility. Our credibility is at the center of our ability to influence others and provide strong leadership.

Integrity, on the other hand, is behaving in accordance with morals, ethics and values. There are two types of integrity - our personal integrity (our own core values) and our behavioral integrity (alignment between our words and our actions). Here’s a few thoughts on both.

Personal Integrity

Personal integrity is primarily a relationship one has with oneself; your own integrated sense of identity within a moral or ethical context. Personal integrity is about individual values; it is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards. People tend to judge others based on their own values, not the values of the person they are judging - because we simply cannot know one’s true inner values. When we think someone lacks personal integrity, what we usually mean is that the observed behavior doesn’t match with our own personal values. The Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato regarded temperance, wisdom, justice and core as the four most desirable character traits. The 4 classical cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance.

Behavioral Integrity

Behavioral integrity is the perceived alignment between a leader’s words and deeds. Behavioral integrity is the subjective perceptions others have of how credible you are. It is about how aligned they see you between your words and actions. How worthy you may be of their trust. Behavioral integrity isn't grounded in what you believe is morally right or wrong -- after all, you may believe one thing, and say or do another. It's judged against the backdrop of your words, not unspoken values, standards, or principles. Behavioral integrity isn't doing what's right (although that's always helpful), but actually do what you say you'll do. If you want trust at work, the question to ask is -- are you good to your word?

Building Trust

Consistency matters. Time matters. Consistency affects the interpretation of your behavioral integrity, over time, both positively or negatively. No consistency = no believability. No believability = no credibility. No credibility = no trust that you'll do as you say.

It's not your personal integrity that will build trust. Having personal integrity is an expected norm in most workplaces, and awards you no added trust points as a leader or coworker. In order to build trust you must demonstrate your behavioral integrity. It's essential for creating and operating with trust currency at work.

About Dr. Michael Burcham

Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.

“I built and sold a $40M company with Dr. Burcham as my mentor. This is the thing: if you EVER get the opportunity to learn from this man, from that moment forward, you’ll list him as one of the most influential people in your life, even if you live to be 90. And, you’ll know how lucky you were to have that opportunity and you’ll immediately say YES to any chance to be in his presence again—his wisdom is that impactful.”

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann

Former CEO, Letter Logic

“If you are looking for a trusted mentor and coach for yourself or your leadership team, I highly recommend Michael Burcham. He has worked with me as my executive coach for well over a decade now. Our conversations and his feedback have helped me sharpen my critical thinking skills. He’s a trusted advisor that I can confidentially speak with about any issue—and I know I’ll get valued feedback. I highly recommend him.”

Ryan McGrath

CEO, Asset Living

“Dr. Burcham’s depth and breadth of experience makes even the most ADD entrepreneurial leader sit up and take notes! His coaching skills bring out the ‘best you’ possible. He selflessly shares the good, the bad, and the ugly—leaving you with an authentic and moving experience sure to spur action and professional growth!”

Julie Lenzer

Director, U.S. Department of Commerce


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