Trust and Betrayal in the Board/Manager Relationship: Learnings and Reflections

Trust and Betrayal in the Board/Manager Relationship: Learnings and Reflections

  |  January 31, 2022

Early in January 2022, the Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) team presented a new virtual workshop, Trust and Betrayal in the Board/Manager Relationship, to discuss the ways boards and general managers can build and repair trust. We connected with the workshop facilitators to learn more about the training.

“Trust is not static. It must be maintained.”

Hosted by Columinate consultants Carolee Colter, Mark Mulcahy, and Todd Wallace, the training gave participants the tools to tackle these difficult issues. When asked what they hoped to get out of the session, most participants were taking a proactive approach to their home co-op’s situation. Co-facilitator Carolee Colter says some participants were new board presidents or new board members. Some were in the midst of hiring or had just hired new general managers.

“They all hoped to establish a strong basis of trust and avoid pitfalls,” says Colter. “However, some indicated that trust needed to be rebuilt or repaired in their organizations.”

In the workshop, facilitators shared a taxonomy of trust from the work of psychologists Dennis Reina and Michelle Reina:

  • trust of character;
  • trust of communication; and
  • trust of capability. 

“While the three types of trust are not mutually exclusive, it helps to understand the differences,” says Colter. “For example, you could trust someone to be completely ethical while not trusting that they are able to perform a job competently. Participants had the opportunity to talk about these concepts in small groups.”

“A good skill set for any endeavor or relationship situation.” 

After introducing a model of seven steps for rebuilding trust, also adapted from the Reinas, Colter and Mulcahy acted out a scenario in which a general manager worked through the seven steps to restore their own trust in their board after an incident. At the end of the workshop, people shared their main takeaways.

The participant feedback on the workshop was positive and included the following:

“I really appreciated the breakdown of trust into three categories. Having this concept and some useful language will really help me to address it.” 

“It was valuable to learn an approach to trust-building that is outlined and specific. We have some trust issues right now and the timing was great!”

“Such a timely topic given all of the antagonism in our world today. A good skill set for any endeavor or relationship situation.” 

For Carolee, the most profound takeaway came from one of the participants: “Trust is not static. It must be maintained.”


There will be another Trust and Betrayal workshop in September 2022. Stay tuned for registration later this year. Visit columinate.coop/events to see all upcoming CBLD events.

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