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Trust Factor

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Trust Factor

The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies

HarperCollins Leadership,

15 min read
11 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Paul J. Zak explains how to build a high-performance business based on soft management and hard science.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • Inspiring


While some leaders might decry “softer” management theories, neuroscience proves that treating your staff members like adult human beings and trusted colleagues pays off. In this engaging and accessible read, neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak shows how creating a “culture of trust” can turn around organizations that might be bound for failure. Based on findings from numerous scientific experiments, Zak examines trust, suggests eight areas to focus on, and outlines practical and manageable steps to bolster workplace bonds and employees’ effectiveness.


Improving trust in your organization increases performance, productivity and talent retention.

Every organization has a culture, whether it’s created intentionally or not, and that culture directs how people will behave. Successful organizations create cultures that are conducive to intrinsic motivation, high performance and cooperation. Trust is the pivotal ingredient in such a culture.

To experiment with the policy changes that build a trusting environment, define what you want to measure and how. Explain to your staff members the changes you’re making and what you hope these changes will achieve. Implement the changes and, after a period of time, measure the results. If a change proves effective, keep it and move on to the next experiment. If not, dismiss it – and move on to the next experiment.

To build a trusting corporate culture, follow policies listed according to the acronym “OXYTOCIN” – the hormone that trust releases.

If people show they trust you, your brain releases the neurochemical oxytocin, which increases empathy. That supports both the willingness to cooperate and the ability to ...

About the Author

Paul J. Zak is a professor of economics, psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University, California, where he founded the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, a research laboratory that studies how people make decisions. 

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