I recently found a questionnaire in a book I was reading on Self trust. I have always found things that increase my self awareness interesting and valuable. The more we understand ourselves the more the world around us makes sense. It exposes how we see our world. Sometimes how we see the world isn’t necessarily how the world is.
I am coming to realise more and more as I work with Leaders and their teams how vital a seemingly simple thing like trust is. I have also seen the dysfunction that creeps in when trust is limited or even in some cases, void and teams are working in protective mode. Very limited productivity happens in low trust environments and yet people still think it is one of those warm and fuzzy things to be avoided.
In Stephen R. Covey’s book, The speed of Trust, he talks about the economics of Trust. I love this because often when I start working with teams and we start working on the Trust element, they roll their eyes and ask when we are going to get to the important things like strategy, marketing etc. The thing is, as many teams have experienced, you can work on all of those worthy things and still fail or at the very least battle along.
The simple formula Covey reveals is the key,
Low Trust = Low Speed and High Cost
High Trust = High Speed and Low Cost.
In teams that have low trust, everything takes much longer than it needs to because there is a whole lot of “butt covering” and micro managing going on as well as checking and re-checking. Imagine how much fun it is to work in this environment, most people don’t need to imagine because they have worked in teams like this. This is affecting the cost to do business in a significant way. This is the REAL work and it is worth doing.
So why do we avoid working on things like trust? Well, it is super uncomfortable, and very confronting. It means I have to be vulnerable and that is something most people in the workplace avoid like the plague. Most of our environments are built around keeping people as “professional” and emotionless as possible, but more and more studies are showing that teams and organisations who allow the whole person to come to the office reap the huge rewards for it. We are not one dimensional, so when we only bring one part of ourselves to work i.e. our skill, the team misses out on the parts that make you awesome, by allowing people to bring everything that they are means things might get messy as we all learn to set healthy boundaries around behaviours and spill overs of untamed emotions.
Trust is made up of two parts, competence and character. Most businesses are set up to measure the competence but most ignore the character because it’s a lot harder to manage. Again not because it is hard, but because it is messy and uncomfortable especially in the PC world we live in. But think about it, if you have hired someone it is on skill, but when it comes to "move them on", it is normally because their character issues have reared their ugly head.
The good news is if you are prepared to be courageous and to lean into some discomfort and are willing to be vulnerable, you as a leader can build a team that is authentic, productive and that stands above the rest. And it all starts with TRUST.