Today I wanted to talk to you about trust. Specifically If someone said they wanted to be more “trustworthy” in their life and leadership, what my advice for them would be...
-Get clear on what trust means to not only you, but to the stakeholders you serve. One of my favorite definitions of “trust” is the “ability to be careless.” Meaning, if we trust someone, we do not have to be looking out out for what we have entrusted to them. You put your money in the bank and sleep at night, carelessly not obsessing about whether or not someone is stealing it. They have your back.
Likewise, your stakeholders, people who depend upon your performance in some area, should be able to be “careless” and not worry about your performance letting them down. You spouse should be “careless” about worrying where you are and what you are doing. Your boss or board should feel “careless” about the assets they have entrusted to you. Your partners should feel “careless” about whether or not their interests are being guarded by you. And on and on. Find out what they do not want to worry about, and then deliver what they have entrusted you to do.
-Focus on your “intent.” Your motive for the other person or entity. Are you there to be “for” them, and help them, and look out for their best? If so, they can trust you. Or are you in the relationship for your benefit only? Remember, no one truly thrives at the expense of another. Do you want to help them, or only be neutral towards them or not hurt them. The last two are not a very high bar for trust. Be “for” them.
-Look at your capacity to deliver what you have promised. If they have entrusted you to do something, do you truly have the skills and capacity to deliver it? Do not promise what you hope you can deliver. Promise what you know you can deliver. Therefore, to be more trustworthy, don’t inappropriately promise, AND be forever growing in your capacities. Do you really want to go to a doctor who is not attending continuing education in medicine?
-Take an inventory of your character. We trust people’s character patterns. Are you loving? Compassionate? Listening? Honest? Humble? Servant oriented? Courageous? Disciplined? Diligent? Persevering? Faithful? Curious about reality? Results oriented? Etc. Figure out what specific character traits are necessary for the relationship you are discussing and make sure they are present. I trust my Rottweiler Doberman to guard our family. She has that kind of character——loyal and protective. I would not trust her to diligently write a book for me. Get specific to what is required in the relationship you are discussing.
-Look at your track record with the person. People do not trust what we say. They trust what we do. How have you treated them, or delivered for them in the past along the areas that are important? Relationally? Results? Listening?
-Be rooted in strong transcendent values. We trust people when we know their values, and their capacity to live by them. What principles or purposes do they serve which “transcend” them?
-By all means, be driven by empathy. Ask the question, “If I were in their shoes, how would I want to be treated or dealt with?” Think of what it means to be on the “other side of you.”