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The Power of Trust: A Steel Cable

| February 16, 2010

by Jim Bruce

Today’s reading, “The Power of Trust:  A Steel Cable”, comes to us from the Mindtools Newsletter.  The author is Bruna Martinuzzi, the founder and president of a Canadian consulting company that focuses on emotional intelligence, leadership, and presentation skills training.

Martinuzzi got my attention when she said:  “Trust is largely an emotional act, based on an anticipation of reliance [that the other party will meet whatever commitment was made].  It is fragile, and like an egg shell, one slip can shatter it.”  Then, after a discussion about the role of oxytocin, a hormone and neurotransmitter, in our trusting, and reporting on research that the trust individuals have in business and political leaders, and in organizations is decreasing, she restates her core argument about trust:  “…[B]eing trustworthy, in someone’s eyes, is based on their own perceptions, and may be strongly influenced by the fracture of trust in the world around them.  Indeed, people don’t automatically trust leaders these days.  Trust needs to be earned through diligence, fidelity, and applied effort.”

Martinuzzi does not leave us without some advice.  She offers 10 suggestions on a leader can do to become and be seen as more trustworthy:

1.   Monitor your use of “I,” particularly in communications.  Focus on the team, think “we.”

2.   View promises as an unpaid debt.  Diligently track the promises you make and your actions on them.

3.   Keep talking about what matters.  Lewis Carroll:  “What I tell you three times is true.”

4.   Your reputation is like a brand.  Manage it as diligently as a corporation.

5.   Be known as a truth teller.

6.   Earn the trust of your customers — keep your promises, be willing to help, treat customers as individuals, make it easy for customers to do business with you, and ensure that all physical aspects of your product or service give a favorable impression (“Five Pillars of Trust,” Winning Customers, by 1000 Ventures).

7.   Don’t try to lead through email.  Make time to have “face-time” with people.

8.   Manage your moods.  Predictability engenders trust.

9.   Are the corporate stories you tell consistent?

10.  Do you make people feel safe?

For me at least, this is a powerful list.  But Martinuzzi is not finished.  She goes on to note that “if organizations want to increase collaboration and enhance teamwork, they need to start with trust.”  She says that “It’s all about individual behaviors.  Do individuals behave in a trustworthy manner or not?  There is only a pass or fail here.”

Martinuzzi ends with the question:  “Can your people trust that your word is your bond?” And, you will have to answer that question.  I do hope that you’ll take some reflection time this week to read the full article and to ask yourself the question.  If you do, you may find some behaviors that you need to work on.


.  .  .  .  .     jim