“Trust always affects two outcomes; speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up.” –Dr. Stephen Covey
The late Dr. Stephen Covey was considered one of the world’s foremost leadership authorities and authored a book entitled “The Speed of Trust.” At VMA’s 2014 Annual Meeting, Greg Link, senior vice president of the Covey Leadership Center, inspired the audience of valve industry executives to acknowledge the value of trust in the world of business and beyond.
“Trust is like the air we breathe. When it is present, nobody notices; when it is absent, everybody notices,” said Link. “People really do believe that trust is more important than anything else, but when our team talked to executives in many different fields, we discovered that many of them felt they did not have the ability to teach trust to others. Trust is the least understood, most overlooked and most underestimated possibility of our time.”
Link challenged the audience to think of a high-trust relationship any of them might have. “What’s it like to work with that person? Compare that to working with a person you don’t trust,” he said. “It changes everything in the environment. When there is no trust, it takes longer to get things done, and it is much harder to achieve results. Trust is not just a soft social virtue; it is a measurable economic driver.”
Link introduced the concept of “The Trust Tax”: When trust is down, speed goes down and costs go up. Similarly, a lack of trust also decreases the energy and satisfaction in a workplace.
Link stressed that, without trust in a work environment, you can’t really collaborate. You might be able to coordinate and at best, you may cooperate. But real collaboration requires trust. Trust is essential to creating and maintaining a positive workspace and Link pointed out that when Fortune magazine puts out its list of the top 100 companies to work for, two thirds of the criteria on the qualification list are based on trust.
On the other hand, when trust goes up, things are accomplished much more quickly and costs go down. Link shared statistics that demonstrated that outsourcing contracts that are managed based on trust rather than stringent agreements and penalties are more likely to lead to dividends for both parties, as much as 40% of the total value of contract. Also, when trust is high, customers buy more, stay longer and refer you to other people.
The Five Waves of Trust
Link compared trust to the waves extending from a pebble dropped in a pond.
The first ripple is self trust, your own credibility. Figure 1 demonstrates this concept by showing that, rippling out from the trust in self comes trust in ever-larger circles that eventually encompass the whole society. “Ultimately,” he said, “we have to trust that what we are doing makes a contribution to society. This is a major component of what drives the younger generation.”
Four Cores of Credibility
Trust is a competitive advantage skill you can learn and teach your team and, according to Link, trust is the number one leadership skill. “The first job of a leader is to inspire trust,” he said. “The second job is to extend trust. People don’t like to work for a micro-manager, so you lose them.”
Trust includes character/integrity AND competence. To gain someone’s trust, you must not only have character and integrity, you must also have competence. You have to produce results. This led to the concept of the four cores of credibility.
Link explained the components.
1. Integrity: The root of everything—who we really are. There must be a congruency in values, beliefs and behaviors. Integrity is deep honesty, humility and courage.
2. Intent: As the base of the tree is a genuine concern and caring for others. It is here that our fundamental motive or agenda is seen. Are we seeking mutual benefit and acting in others’ best interests? It’s important to declare up front what you hope to accomplish.
3. Capabilities: Inspiring confidence. Our ability to produce results and accomplish tasks, which Link’s group defines as talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge and style.
4. Results: The track record, past and present. Getting the right things done and accomplishing the desired objectives and actions.
Behaviors of High-Trust Leaders
Link also shared the 13 behaviors that high-trust leaders exhibit, dividing them into character and competence behaviors.
1. Talk straight.
2. Demonstrate respect. Truly care for others, exhibit kindness and never speak ill of someone.
3. Create transparency. Don’t keep secrets, create illusions or withhold information.
4. Right wrongs. Admit mistakes and fix them.
5. Show loyalty. Gives those who deserve it credit.
6. Deliver results.
7. Get better. Always work to improve, invest in improvement and be open to solutions that are not your own.
8. Confront reality. Don’t just work to appear busy, and don’t waste time on busy work. Do good work and address the real issues.
9. Clarify expectations. Link considers this one of the most important behaviors and what separates true leaders from amateurs. “You must disclose and reveal expectations,” he said, “And don’t assume expectations are clear or shared.”
10. Practice accountability. Always take responsibility when it’s yours to take. Don’t make others take over your responsibilities.
Character and Competence Behaviors
11. Listen first. Speak last. Work to understand when listening.
12. Keep commitments. The best way to establish trust in a new relationship is to make a promise and then keep it.
13. Extend trust conditionally to those you are just learning about it. Do not “snoopervise”, and if you are going to give responsibility, you must also give authority.
“People are afraid they are going to lose control if they give trust,” said Link. “Give people the benefit of the doubt. You’ll be amazed at how they rise to the occasion.”
Judy Tibbs is editor-in-chief and Kate Kunkel is senior editor of VALVE Magazine.