Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Trustful Mind

TRUST is a collective mind - the corporate culture. You can't build and nourish trust without creating a conducive environment of trust.


The progressive business relationship and society are built on mutual trust and respect, not power and ownership. We do not own others and, therefore, should not believe we have power over them. Is trust more as a mindset or a behavior?


Trust starts with oneself, the mind, and grows outward to the people and the environment; just like change. But regular reflection is required to keep foundational truths fresh in our minds so that we are alert to the level of trust in our personal relationships and across our organization. It's trust that is the key determinant of any collaborative effort; and conversely, the lack of it that can accurately predict the demise of any collaborative effort. Creating and nurturing that trust is one of those precious things that takes chunks out of our diminishing currency of time in the world of work. To build and maintain trust requires respect, repeat, predictable behavior: dependability, the fulfillment of promises. All these things take time.


Mutual trust is that linchpin without which leadership is hollow and ineffective. The more we understand its vitality and the anatomy, the better will be our ability to lead in different situations. If there isn't anything more important in human relationships than trust then consideration of trust should be part of every decision. Will the decisions enhance trust (personal and organizational), erode it, or have no impact. We all know beyond any shadow of the doubt that mutual trust is paramount for our personal and organizational effectiveness. And each one of us has pretty good ideas how to cultivate trust. Despite that knowledge and sincerity, mistrust continues to flourish in our personal and organizational lives.


To be able to trust you must also have the courage to learn when you fail; which we all do every now and then, take responsibility for the failure, learn from it and move forward. Blaming others instead of recognizing and taking responsibility for a failure in any affair one is involved in will ultimately destroy any existing trust. When a leader acknowledges and takes responsibility for his/her failures the followers dare to fail as well by knowing that if they take responsibility for the failures, the leaders will continue to support them in their work.


Trust is not straightforward, but multifaceted. There are many definitions of trust and what trust entails including vulnerability-based trust, role-based trust, reciprocity. Role-based trust happens when we each attribute different meanings to trust and assign trust because of a person’s role. Reciprocity is an important part of building trust and allows predictability and stability in the relationship. Reciprocity works because of shared goals, which create less stress on the relationship. Incorporating competition into a relationship erodes trust. Cooperation has been shown to create a win-win situation. Trust is something we invest in based on our experiences, whatever the context.

Leadership mindset and behavior has been found to be the most influential elements in building trust; such as integrity, authenticity, self-awareness, empathy, high EQ;  and communicating effectively also helps to build trust with your direct reports, stakeholders and colleagues. Why does building trust matter? Because otherwise you will not have an engaged or productive staff. The creation of the trust is not something that occurs overnight. And leadership is complex, composed of varied and multiple traits/skill sets/actions. Knowing which ones to use in what combination in each particular situation is what defines a leader, and it is the same with trust.


Mutual trust becomes much easier if one of the two or more parties give trust by respecting with each other. It is very difficult for someone to trust you if they do not believe you respect them, and probably vice verse as well. Understand what people can and do contribute and acknowledge it as a starting point for respect. Then remember delegation is trust. Allowing people to try and fail is about giving trust. If you trust them and they fail, you simply sit down and address why the failure occurred in a safe environment because they don't fear to have to earn your trust.


“Trust but verify" is easy to live by, but ignoring the impact on that micromanagement of your teams decisions and outputs can create a negative impact on the bottom line whether it is easily visible or not. You can't build and nourish trust without creating a conducive environment of trust. The key to trust is to establish trustworthiness as a character trait. Trust is vital for the betterment of the human existence and providing a competitive advantage for business. As imperfect may be our civilization and our organizations, mutual trust definitely makes them better and better.


The true trust is multidimensional. It encompasses trusting self, trusting others, and earning the trust of others. All of these three dimensions are vital to building/nurture/repair mutual trust. Building trust is ongoing and never ending endeavor. What a challenge it is building trust, but how worthwhile, and how essential. Building/nurturing mutual trust is not an overnight phenomenon, but starting with a trustful mind with a constant commitment to consistent actions.

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