Do I Trust You?

by Shaun R Smith on February 8, 2011

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Continuing our series on the Six Key Words, we move on from like to trust.

Can I trust this person as an individual and to fulfill the commitments and responsibilities of her position?  Distrust in the workplace (which is surprisingly common in many large companies) costs time, energy, and money – valuable resources that small business owners can’t afford to waste.

In Stephen MR Covey’s book The Speed of Trust, he attempts to quantify what a lack of trust costs in time and resources.  As leaders, it is our responsibility to hold those around us to a high standard.  Not perfection and not an unreachable bar, but a standard of excellence.  We can’t let one incident of disappointment or failure destroy our esteem for the other person.  However, we also can’t be blind and continue to trust a person to perform who is either unwilling or unable to do so.  Some argue that Warren Buffet’s genius is not in timing the markets or identifying the best investment opportunities, but rather reading people and choosing the best managers and leaders.  He is notorious for doing multibillion dollar deals with only a one-page contract.  That is a great example of the power of trust.

I had an employee once who I really liked.  We shared a passion for vampire fiction (a guilty pleasure of mine).  I trusted him completely to not steal or lie to me.  But I didn’t trust him to do his job.  He would make the same mistakes repeatedly.  He told a customer who was a friend of mine not to tell me that he screwed something up.  He wasn’t stupid or even apathetic, but he just couldn’t execute.  I could trust him as a person, but I couldn’t trust him as a professional.

Imagine if you had a team of A Players who all trusted each other personally and professionally.  In that environment, people are pushing each other to reach higher levels of achievement, success, and fulfillment.  How much more efficiently and effectively would your business operate if that were your environment?  People would still make mistakes – but you could trust them to take ownership of them and correct them.

Of course, one of the dirty secrets of these characteristics is that you can only hold others to the same bar that you are maintaining for yourself.

Photo by: Joi Ito
Amazon Affiliate Link Above for Speed of Trust book

{ 1 comment }

Andi Azzolina February 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Great piece. It’s interesting to think about different types of trust in different settings and the fact that whether you trust someone or not is not necessarily a blanket thing.

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