You may be wondering, “Why are we talking about trust again?” The simple answer is that everything we do with others is built upon this one word. Think of the pain created when we absolutely don’t trust someone. Something has created question marks in our mind around their competence, reliability, what is true, etc. When we don’t trust others, all forward movement comes to a screeching halt—forward movement around relating to others and also to achieving tasks and goals in the team environment. It would be very difficult for the leader and her team to succeed when there isn’t trust.

In LEAD 365, we teach around the idea of trust through Rodger’s hand metaphor (the five fingers of trust: character, competence, commitment, alignment, communication), Covey’s Speed of Trust, and Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team. All get to this idea of building trust and all are very good. So, do we need another way to think about it? Maybe, if it helps you get to the point of living to the highest standards, which build trust on your team where anything and everything can be talked about toward achieving personal and team goals. We are designed for social and human connection, so let’s get this right.

Accordingly, let me share with you some of the work of Galford and Drapeau from The Trusted Leader. They have created a simple formula for how leaders can evaluate themselves and keep building the trust of people who are meant to follow them. Here’s the formula:

Trust =  (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy)/Self-Interest

Credibility is simply the degree to which team members believe that you as the leader are competent and have enough knowledge about a topic or issue to delve into it and solve it. If you want to build credibility, don’t ever lie or distort the truth. Share what you know in humble ways, and if you don’t know the answer to something, simply say so and share that you will find out.

Reliability is about consistency and predictability. Do you follow through on what you say you will do? Do you respond to others in a timely fashion? If you want to build reliability, be very mindful to follow through on the commitments you make. This includes the small ones like, “I will get you that document by 4:00 today.” If that is your commitment, ensure it gets to them by 4:00 that day!

Intimacy describes the warmth and closeness of the relationship. Have you ever worked for someone who is cold or distant? They certainly don’t invite any conversation, which hampers the potential for personal and thus critical work conversations. If you want to build intimacy, don’t be aloof. It is okay to be personal and take an interest in the people you are leading. You will learn a great deal about them and what motivates them.

Finally, the formula above suggests we add all these components together and divide them by the amount of self-interest displayed by the leader. Do you make it more about you, working to ensure that you look good? Do you use your title for your own personal gain or affirmation and not the team’s? If your self-interest is high, all the work you do to build credibility, reliability, and intimacy is seriously negated.

Let us not kid ourselves, our people know where our interests lie. Is it more about you or others? I have asked hundreds of people the this question: “How do you know when a leader makes it more about themselves and not the team?” A few have suggested specific ideas or cite examples of when a leader did something, but almost 100% have said they can’t put it down to one single thing. In their words, “You just know.” Our team members are watching us, so give them something good to aspire to.

Lead on,

Image by AlbertoMQB. Used under CC by-SA license.