The Trust Paradox©

The Trust Paradox©

The purpose of sharing my Practitioner Theory – The Trust Paradox©, is to present the theory in advance given The Trust Paradox is the foundation for all INSPIRE CANADA consulting, people development program delivery, and leadership coaching.

The Trust Paradox: in order to build trust, safety must first be created; the paradox being, to increase safety, a risk needs to be taken. Through risk-taking, safety levels increase, which in turn builds trust. This is The Trust Paradox: Safety – Risk connection©.

In building trust, the risk taken is a move of vulnerability. This could be sharing your deeper thoughts or feelings about a subject that feel risky to you, admitting one is wrong in front of a group of people, sharing you do not know something even when the other person anticipates you do etc. When taking these risks, you increase the level of safety for other(s) to likewise take a risk with you. This is a virtuous cycle. In systems thinking this is called a Reinforcing Feedback Loop and it leads to the full flow of information between people, increasing the likelihood of success of whichever endeavour we are embarking on.

Model: The Trust Paradox: Safety – Risk connection©


(Trust in the business context, produces a more candid dialogue inherently increasing the output of productivity, creativity, and innovation.)

Working with The Trust Paradox builds self-differentiation. Self-differentiation, the ability to be separate yet connected, is what renowned Leadership Consultant Edwin Friedman (2006) called the “keys to the kingdom” of leadership.

My personal experience has been, whenever I have taken an appropriate risk, every time, the level of safety has increased. This increase of safety in the environment supports others feel safe enough to take a risk and work at their edges (Jung, 1938), where real progress can take place. The increase in trust level produces favourable and productive outcomes, 100% of the time.

I believe increasing trust levels in the associated environment is the foundation for success in change management, leadership team progress, and people development. Eminent people development practitioner Jack Gibb stated: “Trust level is the central variable that determines the interaction of the processes, and the resulting effectiveness of the systems.” (Gibb, 1991). I stand behind this statement and developed The Trust Paradox Theory to increase trust levels within change, leadership, and team development programs.

In sharing my practitioner theory with you, one of the thoughts rolling around in my head is you might think this Practitioner theory (The Trust Paradox©) too simple. I believe that in this theory is the core to success of every endeavour.

Thank you in advance for your taking the time to read this summary, I am grateful for this and welcome your questions and thoughts on The Trust Paradox: Safety – Risk Connection©.

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President & Founder, INSPIRE CANADA



Michael is a business consultant who provides people development and change initiatives across Canada, while also assisting organizations in the US and Australia. In witnessing as a senior leader, a large highly successful company stumble and fall through an absence of trust, he committed himself to supporting organizations create a different outcome. Michael as a leader demonstrated the miss-steps he witnessed beforehand; appearing invulnerable, withholding thoughts and feelings, story-making, and reactivity. Recognizing this in himself, he increased his personal development efforts and continually re-commits to his purpose: “to create trust in the world, through demonstrating courage and kindness to myself and others, in every interaction.” Having recently completed a Masters degree in Leadership & Organisation Development in Seattle, US (Leadership Institute of Seattle, (LIOS)) Michael compliments his business experience with academic study in the methodologies for successful organizational change and people development. He is currently studying Lean process improvement and works his spiritual practice for “development at depth”.