Trust in Spades: How to Give, Gain and Build
Trust: How to give, gain and build it over time has been a challenge that scores of leaders struggle with at work and in life. In a world filled with strife, struggle for survival and fear of the unknown trust is a rare commodity and the only currency that can procure us progressive, productive workplaces and, probably, a more peaceful world.
The perennial queries have been:
How much can I trust her?
Why should I trust him?
Are they a trustworthy kind?
How do I make them believe in me?
How do we sustain this relationship over time and changing circumstances?
Now, usually, the answers to many of our work-life challenges lie in intricacies of our languages. So, it helps to look at what exactly is the meaning and maybe the etymology of the word trust is.
By the dictionary, trust is a noun which means “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something,” or trust is a verb which means “to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” The key words stressed here are ability, reliability and strength. Likewise distant synonyms of the word trust are confidence, expectation and dependence.
Robert Kegan, in his book Immunity to Change, provides a workable formula to buy, build and grow trust in reflection and in response to the noun and the verb “trust.” Trust, he claims is the sum of an entity’s credibility, consistency and care for another entity and is inversely proportional to its’ own self-focus.
| ___CREDIBILITY + CONSISTENCY + CARE___
TRUST = ______________________________________
Credibility lies in your past performance but is depended upon today. It takes time to build and is built (Video) step by step. Everything you have done and are dong gets imprinted upon some memory and is tapped into again and again.
Consistency, across changing circumstances and times, is a matter of strategy, will and beliefs. As any manager or even a family head, you need to make efforts to become the person to go to. A certain amount of rock steadiness is needed of you to buy and build trust.
Care is the outcome of cognitive and affective empathy and compassion for others. We all have needs, weaknesses and thankfully, a consciousness too. As we all need care and compassion, a leader needs to make conscious, cognitive efforts to understand, feel and offer support to others.
The downside and the scary side of this denominator is that if all three elements are active and are performed with an objective to win brownie points or to serve an agenda other than the agenda of the person across you or an agenda that is not mutually beneficial than the trust equation collapses-drastically.
A few years ago while hosting an event I had the good fortune of spending a private moment with Tony Meloto, the founder and lead behind Gawad Kalinga of the Philippines. Gawad Kalinga, a very successful community building organization, is our version of Habitat for Humanity in the Philippines.
“Tony” I asked, “Gawad Kalinga is receiving so much funding and hundreds of volunteers are pouring in to help, do you not have security and trust issues with all these newcomers and walk in supporters?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Don’t you have pilferage, conflict, personality conflicts and trust issues?”
“Ah, I know what you are implying! I have a straightforward philosophy and an approach to it. When volunteers come in, we take them for their word and trust their intentions to be good. We load them with responsibilities right away___without doubt, without malice. And, all these years this approach has worked and I feel that is one of the secrets behind our success.”
“Yes, wow is right, we hand out trust in spades, right away, and usually get it back in wheelbarrows,” he smiled.
I was and still am ashamed to have been coming from a sense of lack but I am glad I asked that question that day.
The first step of the formula to gain trust, today for me, is to give trust to the credibility, the competencies and the compassion levels in all my partners and colleagues. It is to set aside all my doubts and biases and take people’s word for what they can do and what they state their goals to be. It is to approach people with a judgement of charity and graciousness. Yes, surely, people can let you down but if I start with assumption that they can let me down then I haven’t really started anything have I?
The second step to build and accumulate trust in myself, across time, from my partners and teams is really do well what I am responsible and for what I am qualified and appointed for. My job description could be general or specific but I must focus on becoming the person to go for those needs by my partners. I must follow this habit of making effort of being he best I can be with a long-term consistency. I cannot build a reputation or a resume by being efficient and productive sporadically, I must be consistent across changing circumstances and times.
The third habit, not just a step, is to approach people with compassion and kindness regardless of what our work-life scenarios and our backgrounds call. In the Philippines, we uphold a value called “kapwa tao.” This means to regard all people as human beings and kindred spirits and to do unto them as you would have them do unto you.
The fourth habit is to deliberately and diligently reflect upon why you think, say and do what you think, say and do. Reflect upon your agendas and your true purposes. Run your intentions through the test of fire. If your thoughts, words and actions benefit you more than they benefit others than the previous three steps will never gain you anything, ever. People study and measure your words and actions to assess your true intentions all the time and the only way to clean up your true intentions is to really and truly clean them up.
That is how to Give, Gain and Build Mountains of Trust for yourself and within your communities.
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