The past blogs I wrote primarily about self-development and awareness. Understanding self is the critical foundation for building better relationships at work and in our personal lives.
Those relationships only thrive when there’s trust between people. Without trust, no relationship, team, or business performs according to its potential. Billions (pick your currency) are wasted every year because there’s no trust between people.
In the book “The five dysfunctions of teams,” by Patrick Lencioni, the absence of trust is the foundational reason why teams don’t function as they could function.
And still, very few teams spend enough time building trust between people within the team. The team’s performance is often left to chance, relying on hierarchy and power to drive performance.
It’s mind-boggling to me. All evidence points towards the conclusion that teams that have a higher degree of trust perform better. But few leaders are willing to invest significant amounts of time building trust. They get nervous if the conversation is not immediately about goals, actions, ownership, and results.
If there’s no trust, there can’t be optimal performance. It’s that simple. Let me repeat that. No trust, no greatness.
Why write about trust, when half of the readers already believes the message and the other half refuses to get it? Because the benefits of trust are so significant, I believe it remains worthwhile writing about it.
If one of you reading this today may turn his doubts into concrete actions and starts working on resolving the trust issues in his relationships, team, or company, the world has become a better place.
Many people have tried to define trust, which is itself a very abstract concept. I like how Stephen M. R. Covey broke trust down in his book “Speed of Trust.” Covey identified two main components that define trust: character and competence. Character then is broken down into two main drivers: intention and integrity. Competence is also broken down into two main drivers, experience and results.
Let’s take a look at the ‘easy’ one first, competence. Competence is the visible component of trust. Experience and results are easily identifiable and controllable components. If trust were a tree, they would represent the branches with leaves and fruits.
Take, for example, an average LinkedIn profile. A good profile will have a proper description of an individual’s experience, supported with descriptions of results. We can check competence fairly quickly and objectively. And if we have doubts, we ask for references and check.
In relationships, it works pretty much the same way. Over time we get an understanding of the person we’re in a relationship with. Whether personal or professional. If the person does consistently what is expected and behaves the way he/she is supposed to behave, trust starts building.
With (public) companies, it works the same way. When you do what you promise on a regular (quarterly) basis, trust will build. If you don’t do what you promise, good or bad, and you surprise your shareholders and analysts, trust will start to erode. Your stakeholders can’t rely anymore on what you have promised, and therefore there will be less trust.
Character is the hard part of trust. Covey breaks character down in intentions and integrity. These components are not easy to see, assess, or check. They’re underneath the surface.
Continuing our tree analogy, intentions and integrity would be for a significant part below the surface. The roots of the tree provide the foundation and therefore, can be compared to integrity. Intentions provide direction and are, consequently, comparable to the tree’s trunk, partially below and partially above the surface.
Great leaders and coaches spend much time getting to know the people they work with. They want to see the person behind the person. They’re not only interested in experience and results. They’re also interested in integrity and intentions.
They want to know the history of their people, what they have accomplished in their lives, what highs and lows they have experienced. They believe that getting to know each other better at the personal level, results in more trust, better teams, and better results.
These leaders do not need to call out integrity as a value because they make sure they have hired, onboarded, nurtured, and grown people of integrity. These leaders understand that trust is the foundation for success.
Trust starts with who you are—knowing if you are a person of integrity and if your intentions are honorable. That’s why better also begins with who you are. If your ambition is to get better and produce results, you need to be clear about your intentions, and you need to have the integrity to build trust around you. Your people need to know who you are.