Top 5: Fundamental elements of trust

I wrote this post for a junior staff member of mine who asked me “What does trust LOOK like? and how  can I build it?”

Trust is so often one of things we FEEL (or don’t) – rather than something we can consciously evaluate.

With adults, trust tends to be earned, on the back of an evidence-base of past experience, rather than given freely.

In short, trust is about understanding that it’s not always possible to deliver on every promise – so don’t make too many of them, and don’t make them too lightly – only promise something when you KNOW (beyond doubt) that you will be able to deliver it.

Top 5: Fundamental elements of trust

1. Integrity
Do you model moral and ethical principles? Are you honest? Sincere?
Do the expectations you’re setting sound achievable? Would you lie? Have you lied before?
Do you have favourites or take sides?

How can I build it?

  • Share credit – don’t glory-hog
  • If you can’t give them a straight answer – tell them WHY you can’t tell them
  • Recognise the opportunity in every step of the process to either learn or teach

2. Strength
Are you professionally resilient? Are you risk-averse? Do you take criticism well? Are you afraid of making tough decisions?
Do you bounce back from challenges? Do you support your team? Are you robust enough not to buckle as soon as things get hard?

How can I build it?

  • Don’t shy away from tough decisions
  • Back your staff – don’t let them fight your battles for you. Your job is to fight for them
  • Engage (sensibly!) with risk

3. Independence
Are you professionally courageous? Or a “yes-man”? Are you an idea champion or an executive sheep? Do you create and foster successful alliances?
Are you about to exert influence? Provide support and assistance to others?

How can I build it?

  • Support good ideas – even if they aren’t your own
  • Argue as if you are right and listen as if you are wrong – and teach your staff to do the same thing
  • Provide assistance to others in achieving and shepparding through their priorities, and seek support from others for your own projects and ideas

4. Ability
Are you effective in your role? Can you get the job done? Do you have the requisite technical knowledge to be proficient in your areas of responsibility?
Are you capable? What are your areas of expertise? Do you display political nous and organisational dexterity? Are you competent? Do you offer sound advice and insight? Are you strategic? Are you able to distil strategic priorities into operational actions? Are you flexible in responding to changing priorities? Can you foresee and resolve potential issues?

How can I build it?

  • Understand that continual communication and lobbying isn’t a ‘nice to do’, it IS your job.
  • Admit what you don’t know
  • Be responsive to your bosses priorities and your team’s needs
  • Reinforce priorities to keep the people focussed on the right priorities – work hard at continually distilling strategic priorities into operational actions

5. Credibility
Are you reliable? Consistent? What is your track record? What is your ability to meet expectations? Are you believable? Is confidence in your rewarded?

How can I build it?

  • Do what you say you will do
  • Admit what you don’t know
  • Do what you say you will do

About Lyn Campbell

Lyn likes to be thought of as insightful, articulate and achingly clever, but she's just a bit of a nerd, really. _____________________________________________________ All written content copyright © Lyn Campbell 2008-2012. All rights reserved. No written content may be used, in part or in full, without the author's express written permission. (Pictures available from Google - copyright unknown unless otherwise credited).
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5 Responses to Top 5: Fundamental elements of trust

  1. Chitresh Bhola says:

    Knowledgeable& Motivating Article……

    Thanks for post

  2. Social Graces says:

    A great post, Lyn.

    Trust is a such a valued commodity – it takes a lot of consistent, hard work to build it yet it can be betrayed or broken in one foolish act of thoughtlessness. Once broken, those who trusted would be wise to rethink trusting the same person again with this precious human gift (unless they’re are on a path to self-destruction and want to end up with no self-esteem or integrity). It can be rebuilt, of course, with a lot more hard work than it took to create it in the first place and may not be the same again.

    In fact, I think trust is sometimes a rare commodity – especially in the workplace. Mind, though, if one can trust oneself, that’s all that really matters.

    Social Graces

  3. Ivy Blaise says:

    Always love your Top 5 lists, Lyn! Really liked your “How to…” for each point. Made sense.

    A very relevant topic, both in life in general but definitely in a professional environment. The trust we so easily give as children is much harder earned as adults. For me the key is that it is an on-going process and that you always continously have to work on or it will be lost again. It is fleeing and untangible but so worth it when you both can give and receive it. Very similar to respect.

    I can’t complain about my work situation today but the thought of sending that list to a few managers that I have had in the past did cross my mind. 🙂

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