Why Trust Is a Must For Nurse Leaders

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Have you given much thought to the role that trust plays in nursing lately? The public has ranked registered nurses as the most trustworthy people on the planet for years now, and for good reason.

We were the one holding their uncle’s hand when he found out the cancer had come back. We’re the one who stitched up their son after his fall from the legendary tree at grandma’s house. We helped their brother with his breathing treatments after the car wreck he was lucky to walk away from. We assisted in bringing their niece into the world.

To us, it’s our job, but to the people we care for day in and day out it’s so much more. It’s their livelihood. And just as patients trust the clinical nurses caring for them, nurse leaders should trust their team.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Just as patients trust the clinical nurses caring for them, nurse leaders should trust their team.”]

Katherine Crowley, co-author of Working with You Is Killing Me: Freeing Yourself from Emotional Traps at Work said it best when she said “Trust is the basic foundation upon which relationships are built” and I concur.

Think of it this way; would you rather work for someone who, A) second guesses the decisions you make for your patient, watches closely as you deliver meds, and listens in on your phone calls, or B) someone who trusts you to do your job to the best of your ability and gives you the freedom to do it?

I think it’s safe to say you answered with a resounding “B!”

Why do you think that is? According to data collected by the trusted folks at Harvard, there are quite a few reasons. Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies reported:

  • Less stress
  • More energy
  • Higher productivity
  • Fewer sick days
  • More engagement
  • More life satisfaction
  • Less Burnout

On the other hand, evidence suggests that when the workplace is lacking in trust, employees expend energy protecting themselves and are less effective and timely in delivering patient care. Even worse, they’re less likely to ask for help or advice, which may lead to an increase in errors and could even impair their clinical decision making.

So, what can nurse leaders do to implement trust in the workplace? 

[easy-tweet tweet=”What can nurse leaders do to implement trust in the workplace? “]


Communication plays a fundamental role in all facets of life, including our work. Research shows that open lines of communication create trust, and vice versa, and that trusting relationships are key to better healthcare outcomes. Encouraging your staff to speak their minds (respectfully, of course), voice their ideas, and come to you with their problems is a great place to start. Follow it up with keeping your word and NEVER gossiping. If you tell someone you’ll do something; do it, and if you don’t agree with the way someone is doing their job be sure to tell them and only them. You’ll quickly find that open and honest communication has a way of shrinking insecurity and fostering trust among co-workers.


One of the most common complaints I hear from nurses is that their leaders micromanage them. The great nurses you have the honor to lead every day have been well trained and likely love their job, so let them do it their own way whenever possible. By giving employees more space to act, it reduces frustration by increasing the likelihood that they are going to be able to use their full range of skills, experience and competency. Being trusted to handle things themselves will not only make them feel more secure in their position, but will motivate them to be better as well. In fact, a 2014 Citigroup and LinkedIn survey found that nearly HALF of employees would give up a 20% raise for greater control over how they work.


We’re all human and it’s in our nature to make mistakes, so when you make one; fess up. I know it can be tempting to cover our mistakes, but that’s not how lessons are learned or trust is built. The best option is always to come clean and I promise that no one worth caring about will think less of you for doing so. Asking for help is another great way to show vulnerability. Asking someone for help instead of telling them to do something naturally increases trust and team cooperation, which leads to a much happier and healthier work environment.

[easy-tweet tweet=”“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” – Simon Sinek”]

The bottom line is no one wants to work with or for someone who doesn’t trust them. As a leader you have the opportunity to cultivate an environment of trust and cooperation by using these simple strategies to build a highly functioning team made up of people who love what they do, and as the genius Simon Sinek says “A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.”

Thanks so much for reading!

Take care. Be kind. Stay connected.

Table of Contents

Join Our Community

If you would like to stay connected and receive resources, tips, and tools to help you cultivate a professional and respectful work culture, click below!

Keep Reading

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top