In my most recent mediation, the trust between two commercial parties had completely eroded to the extent that the parties wanted to end what should have been a flourishing commercial relationship. As a mediator, I know the role trust plays in both the breakdown and resolution of conflict, and I have to use 'swift trust' techniques in order to build an effective working relationship with parties quickly. 

The article below draws a similar parallel to trust in an organisational and leadership setting. When working with leadership teams who are in conflict, it is not only disagreement about 'the what' that is the problem, it is the total breakdown of trust which is the hallmark of teams in conflict.  Focusing on techniques to develop and restore trust are crucial skills for leaders in organisations.  The key steps are:

1. Develop rapport- At the initial stages take care to use active listening skills and empathy to build  and demonstrate an understanding of the perspective of others rather than being focused on your own agenda

2. Create swift trust  -if rapport is established this will lead to the formation of a basic functioning trust relationship 

3. Continue to build trust-  At this point, it is often easy to assume trust is built and take your eye off the ball. Continue to work on developing a deeper trust by being transparent and honouring commitments. 

4. Win deep trust - If you are successful then over time a relationship of deep trust will be built. But it still needs to be nurtured,  as it can so easily be lost through a few missteps. 

James South is the Managing Director of CEDR and a mediator, conflict resolver and trainer with 24 years experience, having worked in over 30 countries helping individuals, business and government implement techniques and systems to better resolve conflict and improve dialogue. 

To book James as a mediator or to work with your leadership team, contact the CEDR Commercial Team at or call 0207 536 6060.