From Issue: 474 [Read full issue]

How Trust Works

Trust is one of the most powerful forms of motivation and inspiration. People want to be trusted. They respond to trust. They thrive on trust. Whatever our situation, we need to get good at establishing, extending, and restoring trust - not as a manipulative technique, but as the most effective way of relating to and working with others, and the most effective way of getting results.

Most of us tend to think about trust in terms of character - of being a good or sincere person or of having ethics or integrity. And character is absolutely foundational and essential. But, to think that trust is based on character only is a myth.

Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. 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.

You might think a person is sincere, even honest, but you won't trust that person fully if he or she doesn't get results. And the opposite is true. A person might have great skills and talents and a good track record, but if he or she is not honest, you're not going to trust that person either. My wife, Jeri, recently had to have some surgery. We have a great relationship - she trusts me and I trust her. But when it came time to perform the surgery, she didn't ask me to do it. I'm not a doctor. I don't have the skills or the competence to do it. Even though she trusts me in most arenas, she knows I don't have the skills to perform surgery.

Once you become aware that both character and competence are vital to trust, you can see how the combination of these two dimensions is reflected in the approach of effective leaders and observers everywhere.

"The Speed of Trust" - Stephen M. R. Covey, pp. 29-31