Some of the following thoughts are excerpts from my Master’s Degree research.
Trust is essential to personal and organizational success. Trust affects an organization’s effectiveness and its bottom line. Without trust leaders and organizations lose in every way. They lose productivity, employee retention, morale, effectiveness, efficiency, customer loyalty, morale, reputation, and revenue.
As an entrepreneur, speaker, and consultant I have often seen organizations put their focus on the trivial over the fundamental. Companies say they believe in high integrity, but they would rather pay for sales skills training than invest in nurturing integrity and high character. The truth is if one does not exhibit trust and integrity as a leader one will not have productive teams. If one does not create trust in sales, one is unlikely to sell. If one does not build trust in service, one will not create loyal customers. I believe trust is a bottom-line decision. But how does an individual or organization build trust?
The reality is trust is fundamentally important for success and effectiveness among people and organizations. Karlene Kerfoot concurs, “In the end it’s not techniques that count. The leader’s ability to engender trust is what really matters. Without trust, people cannot listen and hear (Kerfoot, 2001, p.42).” When trust is high then productivity, collaboration, openness, morale, initiative, creativity and effectiveness all go up—and so does the bottom line. The profound impact of trust is obvious, but there is a problem.
Because the ability to build and sustain trust is so important for people and organizations to be successful and effective, inability to build trust or the presence of low-trust in a person or organization presents a problem that needs to be addressed. There has been a significant loss of trust among companies and people in recent years. According to Jane Gibson, “The European public simply doesn’t trust CEO’s (Gibson, 2007, p.13).” In fact, according to Gibson’s research, only twenty percent of Europeans trust the heads of companies (2007).
The body of research that was studied for my Master’s Paper revealed several significant and foundational aspects of trust. The evidence pointed to some key areas that are most important for trust to be built and sustained in a person or organization. Many of these aspects of trust came up in multiple juried articles, reviews or books. I found six most common and foundational keys for trust building. A person, leader, or organization that was trustworthy contained the following six attributes: capable and competent, conscientious and committed, congruent and of high character, collaborative and connection (ability to have), compassionate and caring, and clear and candid.
A formula may make the findings more clear and usable. It should be understood that the formula came to me as a way to simplify and better understand this incredibly complex subject of trust. It is not meant to over simplify or give the idea that all of the important aspects of trust can be nicely placed in a succinct formula. Still if it helps understand and remember the findings it is worth it.
The following formula helps illustrate the findings:
+ Being Capable and Competent
+ Being Conscientious and Committed
+ Being Congruent and of High Character
+ Be Collaborative and able to Connect
+ Being Compassionate and Caring
+ Being ¬Clear and Candid
_______________________________= CONFIDENCE or HIGH TRUST
(in that organization or individual)
My research has provided clear evidence that building trust among teams and clients is essential for great and effective leadership. Bryant College researcher, Ronald J. Deluga found, “Interpersonal trust is crucial to supervisor and organizational effectiveness (1995).” Without trust people do not work together effectively. Without trust productivity decreases. In order to build trust, an environment must be created where there is open communication, genuine respect, low amounts of fear, and high regard for participation. Effective team leaders must demonstrate honesty, high integrity, and competence as well as a willingness to support his or her team. These traits will help build trust and in turn effective leadership.
Is trust important? Absolutely. Trust affects the relationships, effectiveness, and the bottom-line, so it is clearly worth building relationships and organizations with a high degree of trust. Though worth it, it may take considerable effort to build trust.. McDargh (2006) confirms that trust builds over time. According to Farber (2007), “Building trust does not happen overnight. It’s the many little things you do over time that help you build lasting relationships (p.85).”
Trust is a key element to genuine effectiveness and success. Greer (2002) States, “Trust allows the superstar in all of us to emerge (p.8).” This research gives hope that one can be a superstar if one becomes competent in the six fundamentals of trust found in this study. Further, trusting God, His Word, and becoming trustworthy are elements of trust that, by God’s grace, allow Him to shine through the Christian leader. Now one can look at a few more applications inspired by this research.
Several things are important for one to apply research from this analysis. The first step is seeing the need to build trust as a leader and as an organization. Understanding the impact of trust on effectiveness and on the bottom line can be a motivator for becoming a high trust individual or organization. The findings in this study have proved the importance of trust for the effective leader or organization.
Next, one must take a good look at one’s trustworthiness. Getting feedback and taking some time to reflect are both important parts of applying the findings of this research. One way to get valuable feedback around one’s trustworthiness is to take a good assessment. If a person would like to use a simple but valuable tool to test a person’s level of trust that person can take my TRUST TEMPERATURE assessment by going to www.ideahorse.com. Just taking the time to honestly evaluate areas where one lacks trustworthiness can be eye opening and helpful for growth. To gain the most insight one can use the Trust Temperature Assessment as a short 360-degree feedback by giving the assessment to people one works with as well as superiors, clients and direct reports. Without feedback one may not see areas that need attention.
Another application for increasing trust is a vibrant faith. I do not know of a better way to build character than having a faith beyond one’s self. If one does not believe in some sort of absolute truth it is difficult to have a basis for any moral code.
One way a person may be able to stay the coarse, as far as one’s character is concerned is by developing an accountability group. Accountability helps one keep integrity and continue to grow. A Proverb states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” For the last fourteen years I have met with the same accountability guys. We share deeply and we love one another. We really want the best for each other. I meet with one of the guys every week and with the others periodically. Once a year get together at a cabin for a longer (4-5 day) get-away where we listen, share goals, challenge, encourage, seek wisdom, pray, and encourage one another. Because of this accountability group businesses and ministries have been started, marriages and families have been strengthened.
Another way to apply this information is to keep learning about trust. Consider what areas may
need to be strengthened. Then, seek to be trained in or develop those areas. Though some of the areas of trust are difficult to teach such as character. Some of the fundamentals can be developed in an organization or person more easily. Take time to grow and develop in the fundamentals of trustworthiness. If one is leading an organization, make sure to develop a climate that encourages the key elements of trustworthiness.
It takes being intentional to apply knowledge learned from this research. Start by doing little things to increase trust.
Bottom-Line, Customer Loyalty, David Horsager, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Employee Retention, Integrity, Morale, Organizational Success, Reputation, Revenue, Trust and Money