A Matter of Trust

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Earlier today I was speaking to a group about Strategy Implementation (or Execution) and we naturally discussed the importance of Culture, the norms, values and behaviors of people within the organization.. There’s a popular expression that “culture eats strategy for breakfastâ€; in other words, great strategic plans go nowhere if the culture inhibits people from moving forward.

One of the most powerful cultural elements is Trust. David Horsager in The Trust Edge, defines Trust as “the confident belief in someone or something to do what is right, delivered what is promised and/or be the same every time, whatever the circumstancesâ€. Pat Lencioni, in the Five Dysfunctions of Teams, states that the first dysfunction is the absence of Trust. Inherent in most relationships is a vulnerability between people. When they trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level then they form effective teams which can achieve the strategic priorities, regardless of circumstances.

By building Trust, how top leaders can gain faster results, deeper relationships and stronger bottom-line, Horsager notes that there are eight “pillars†of Trust:

  • Clarity – people trust what’s clear and mistrust the ambiguous
  • Compassion – people put faith in those who care beyond themselves.
  • Character – people notice those who do what’s right over what is easy
  • Competency – people have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant and capable
  • Commitment – people believe in those who stand through adversity
  • Connection – people want to follow, buy from and be around friends
  • Contribution – people immediately respond to results
  • Consistency – people love to see the little things done consistently.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where the level of trust for so many institutions and organizations (e.g., the US Congress) has declined to very low-levels. It’s clear therefore that to implement strategy, leaders need to increase trust within their spheres of influence. What’s your experience with trust effecting the implementation of strategic priorities? What have you done to increase the level of trust? Which pillars have been most important to you?  Has the challenge of building trust differ in face-to-face groups vs. communicating over the web?