The speed of trust

By Rick James

One of the great things about being able to give and receive honest feedback is that it builds trust. Trust is one of the most valuable organisational commodities. It is not an optional extra, nor a soft, airy fairy ideal. Trust is at the core of how well any organisation functions. As Steven MR Covey clearly outlines in his book of the same name, we operate only at the ‘speed of trust’ (2006).

Low trust slows everything down. If there is no trust, words and decision are negatively interpreted. There is suspicion, between people and organisations, not synergy. It leads to increasing bureaucracy, duplication of effort, political manoeuvring and disengagement.

Do you trust your boss? – the answer to this one question apparently is more predictive of team and organisational performance than any other question.

As we go to work, (as leader, consultant, NGO staff) our top responsibility is to build trust. Trust is one of the most powerful forms of motivation and inspiration. People want to be trusted. They respond to trust. Covey defines leadership as “getting results in a way that inspires trust”.

So what can we do to build trust as leaders? The fastest way to build trust is to make and keep commitments. We judge ourselves by our intentions, we judge other people by their behaviour. Good words have their place, but what you do has far greater impact than what you say.

Do not be naïve or gullible – combine high propensity to trust with rigorous analysis. Look at your systems. Are they set up for the 3% who can’t be trusted or the 97% who can? Leaders have to go first in the game of trust. The onus is on you to make the first move.

This week, what can you do at work to build trust and thereby increase the speed of your organisation?

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