Trust – You Know It When You Feel It

In answer to the question, “what is trust?”, this is a quote by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, “[Y]ou know it when you feel it.”

When I read this in Speed of Trust, I immediately could relate. There is this rumbling, anxious feeling when no trust is present. I hesitate. There is a open, connected feeling when trust is present. I share. Over the last few months, probably as a result of the experiences I had at the organization which virtually crumbled in front of my eyes, I have had a keen interest in trust and its impact. Looking at myself, others and organizations, I have been listening, reading and discussing this topic of trust. Even last Sunday at church, the message was about trust.

Learning how to create trust in a low trust world, as Stephen M.R. Covey speaks about, will help us navigate with more confidence and will make an enormous difference in both our personal and professional life.

For you and I as individuals, Covey explains that both character and competence are necessary. Effective leaders today must know how to balance character and competence. Effective leaders must model trust and show trust. When most of us think about character, we think of it in terms of being a good or sincere person, being honest and having integrity. This is how most of us would describe trust. Yet after reflecting on Covey’s writings, I began to understand how trust is a function of character and competence. Covey explains how both are vital:Leadership confidence

Character includes your integrity, your motive, your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. And both are vital.

As I explore this aspect of trust by asking “Who do I trust?, Why do I trust them? and What inspires my confidence in them?” and “Who trusts me?, Why do they trust me? and What is it about me that inspires their confidence in me?,” I really understand how character and competence are intertwined. In my role as an executive, I recall many times, when I had an employee who was of good character; however, I would not trust them to do a particular project because they lacked the set of skills or track record of results to effectively handle it. I also recall situations when an employee had a track record of results and yet they left me feeling suspicious of their motives and I questioned their honesty. Covey further explains that,

Character is constant; it’s necessary for trust in any circumstance. Competence is situational; it depends on what the circumstance requires.

Understanding and being more aware of these aspects as a foundation for trust will certainly make a difference as I lead and continue to build the necessary relationships for my success, my business success and the success of my team. As many of you who have worked with me know, I place a high importance of really defining and communicating your leadership values (character) as well as knowing your strengths and accomplishments (competence). So take a moment to ask yourself these questions: Who do you trust? Who trusts me? How is my character and my competence affecting my relationships? It is worth your time to do so!

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