Everybody consciously or subconsciously recognizes the impact of trust on human relationships. Trust requires lots of time and effort to build, and it can be destroyed in a matter of seconds. It is probably the most important and fragile element at the core of any relationship.

“Trust is highly tangible, measurable and manageable”

Stephen M.R. Covey wrote:

“There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world -one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.”

That one thing is trust.

The Incredible Power of Trust

As the ADP Research Institute demonstrated in their 2019 survey results, team members are twelve times more likely to be fully engaged if they trust their team leader!

Unfortunately, many leaders consider trust as something highly intangible and impossible to quantify. Trust is however highly tangible, measurable and manageable. Trust can be built by a profound understanding of what creates or destroys trust, and by understanding the peculiarities of all the different personalities around us. Trust can be effectively taught and learned and, provided it is a solid element of your organization’s culture, it can become a leverageable, strategic advantage.

Trust is not some sort of illusive magic that some have, and others don’t. Provided that your intentions are honest, and provided that you have a healthy interest in knowing and understanding what the people around you need, trust can be purposefully built and nourished.

The Foundation of Trust

After studying data from 360 assessments of 87,000 leaders, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman identified three key elements they describe as the foundation of trust:

    1. Positive relationships
    2. Good judgement
    3. Consistency

Zenger and Folkman discovered that trust in the first place is based on a leader’s ability to create positive relationships with others. Leaders need to be engaged, balance a focus on results with a genuine concern for their people (which is only possible if they know and understand their people), generate a culture of cooperation, actively resolve conflict, and frequently give helpful, honest feedback.

Of-course the extent to which leaders are well-informed and knowledgeable is essential for their trustworthiness as well. Leaders need to demonstrate good judgement when making decisions, understand the technical basics of the work, and have sufficient depth of experience. The same applies to consistency: to be trustworthy leaders need to be a role model, walk the talk, and follow-through on what they say and on their commitments.

The Power of Positive Relationships

The most impactful element of trust however remains the first one: positive relationships. Zenger and Folkman measured it, and it confirms our own experience in several decades of working with a large variety of organizations and leaders in many parts of the world. The impact of positive relationships is universal and palpable. If this key element misses, the other key elements won’t be sustainable.

Trust works differently however for each individual; the meaning and importance of ‘positive relationship’, or ‘good judgment’, or ‘consistency’ may differ from person to person, which is highly related to their Behavior Style.

Our Human Logic™ program provides a wealth of in-depth information about how to be more effective and successful as a leader. In great detail we cover the strengths and liabilities of the four Behavior Styles. We analyze their primal fears and needs, their specific leadership qualities and pitfalls, how each of the styles deals with priorities, time, decision-making, and stress, and we cover in great detail how to successfully work with people with each of the Behavior Styles.

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