Trust Matters and Matters of Trust

CastellersTrust is crucial for success, and is the very medium of human interaction and coordination. We share the future with those we trust, and we withdraw from, avoid, put up with, blame, resent, or compensate with cost for those we don’t.

Trust is crucial for effective teamwork and organizations, it’s a lubricant for smooth action. Mistrust is like quicksand, a source of friction and resistance to collaboration and coordination. Broken promises and unfulfilled expectations create breakdowns and possibly mistrust. Fulfilled promises move the action forward and build trust.

Building trust and effectively dealing with mistrust are fundamental skills for leadership, management, and relationship. It’s a crucial aspect of an organization’s identity. Yet most of us move with trust intuitively, and don’t know how to effectively deal with mistrust, recover from producing mistrust, or how to rebuild trust.

Mistrust prevents agreements, produces expensive double-checking, assurance, and rework, and eventually leads to a culture of blame, resignation, or resentment. We avoid those we don’t trust, though we may be still be paying for them. We don’t get what they are supposed to deliver.

Trust is the aspect of cultures – organizational, community, and national – that produces the framework for effective coordination of action. National economies don’t grow in cultures of distrust. Organizations don’t thrive without trust. Teams cannot achieve high performance without trust. Establishing trust is also an essential part of our professional success and personal relationships. Your personal identity, success and failure hinges on your ability to produce and sustain trust.

We first need to be clear what trust is. If we aren’t clear we will find it difficult to take effective action with it. For example, trust is not just some feeling or reaction of comfort, discomfort, or reaction to people or situations. These are the side effects of trust and distrust. We need an interpretation of trust and mistrust that enables our own effective action, an interpretation that we call “generative”. A generative interpretation is one that articulates effective action that will produce the desired result.

What produces trust is the assessment that an expected outcome will be produced, and we can act as though it will happen. Trust is a matter of judgment.

What produces effective shared action and coordination – teamwork, leadership, and management – is to make clear trusted agreements about expected outcomes. When we rely on these outcomes happening then we trust the agreement and the person making them. When we don’t rely on these outcomes happening then we don’t trust the agreement.

In order to trust agreements we have to believe that the person making them is committed to them. We call such a committed agreement a promise. Promise in this sense is an act of coordination, bringing commitment that future action will fulfill an agreement.

Where do you trust yourself and where not? Where do you trust others, and where not? Where does trust need to be repaired or recovered in your life and work? How does your team or organization deal with trust issues?

We will discuss these questions as well as how to make trustworthy promises, how to assess the promises of others, how to deal with mistrust, the breakdowns of trust, and betrayal in our free Leadership Circle conference all on March 25, noon ET.

Join us in the conversation by registering for this free conference call here: Trust Matters

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