Monday, October 30, 2006

The Trust Factor

We all know the importance of trust in business, and especially in leadership, but have you ever thought about much impact there is when it's not there? Last week I went to the first event for the new Boise Young Professionals Association, and Stephen M.R. Covey spoke for close to 2 hours on the topic of trust, based on his new book "The Speed of Trust". I found it to be an engaging discussion on a topic that most would consider obvious, but as is often the case, the more obvious the topic, the less stellar we all are at it.

Stephen talks about how the trust can actually be quantified in terms of speed and cost. When trust goes up, speed goes up and cost goes down. When trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up. Think about your organizations. There are many not-so-obvious signs of low trust... beurocracy, red-tape, office politics are all examples of mistrust.

So what can we do about it? He has come up with what he calls the 5 waves of trust (think about the ripple effect metaphor) starting from the center and moving outwards, that we all have the power to influence. Self Trust > Relationship Trust > Organizational Trust > Market Trust > Societal trust.

His talk focused primarily on Self Trust. Stephen breaks this into the 4 cores of credibility: Integrity, Intent, Capability, Results. The first two deal with a persons character and the second two deal with competence, but the important point is that all 4 are required. Think about people you work with - ones that you trust and ones that you don't. For example, I worked with someone once that was very competent, had integrity, but failed in the 'intent' department. People perceived that he had personal motives and agenda, and this simple fact overwhelmed all of the integrity, capability and results that he had to offer. Unfortunately mistrust in personal character is also the hardest to change. Competence and results can be improved with training and mentoring, and people are often very willing to help a person in this area, but if someone doesn't have integrity and or good intentions it doesn't really matter what else they bring to the table, and it can stay with them for a long time. Often in business it is character trust that has the highest costs in an organization.

This concept of trust really intrigued me, and so I bought the book to read further (effective, authentic marketing at work!). I have also become much more cognizant of this in the organizations that I deal with or ones I read/hear about, and the frustrations that others have with a lack of trust. Look at this post and this post recently by Seth Godin, both on the same day!

The great think about trust though is that it starts with us. Make these principals part of your life (both business and personal), and business will shift with it. Re-think how important trust is to the success of your business - its big.

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