Byron's Babbles

Trust Is Not A Place

Here we are in week 48 of 2022 and I am reading Simple Truth #48, “Building Trust Is A Journey, Not A Destination” in the great book Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley this morning. Trust being viewed as a journey and not a destination is in line with what I wrote in Trust Is A Verb. In that post I quoted Michael Fullan, who argued that “trust is a verb before it becomes a state.” In that post I discussed that trust becomes part of the community culture in real time. Furthermore, trust is an action. When a leader is an active participant and becomes part of the group, accountability becomes a shared norm instead of something imposed from above. Randy Conley told us, “The truth is that building and keeping trust is a journey, an ongoing process of demonstrating trustworthiness.” Again, trust happens in real time.

Just like with any journey, wrong turns can be taken and trust lost. If we have done something to lose others’ trust, Conley advises to acknowledge, apologize, and act. We are reminded that “…it may take some time to fully restore trust in a relationship – but it can be done.” He went on, “Remember, building trust is a lifelong journey. There is no final destination.” In any team or organization trust is critical. In this ever more transparent world we need to be embracing the journey using our ability, integrity and benevolence to build trust.

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Don’t Lead With Handcuffs

Having been involved with organizations in the past who’s “rumor mills” were the most efficient thing they had going, this week’s Simple Truth #47, “People Without Accurate Information Cannot Act Responsibly, But People With Accurate Information Are Compelled To Act Responsibly” in the great book Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley really resonated with me. The so called leader kept everyone in a state of wondering. Then, there always seemed to be the “chosen one” of the month who was just dying to make sure that everyone knew that they knew what was going on, and around and around we go. Thus, the rumor mill is formed.

It comes down to a lack of self confidence, being on a power trip, and as Randy Conley taught us; trust. As Conley said, “When people don’t have accurate information, it’s as if their leader is handcuffing them from being their best” (p. 121). I get the argument that sometimes there is information that cannot be shared, but there still needs to be clarity. Literally tell those you serve what you can’t share and why. Bottom-line is if you are not communicating and providing information, the rest of us will make it up.

Organizations with a high trust are where collaboration and transparency are at their best. That lack of self confidence and sense of power I mentioned earlier causes some to do what is called “knowledge hiding.” There has been research done that argues some feel they gain status and power by knowing unique information that know one else knows. I kind of chuckled to myself as I read the research. The metaphor of a Queen on her thrown throwing out little breadcrumbs at her weekly meeting – just enough to make you want more. Again, not the organization you want to be a part of. How about you? Are you hiding knowledge?

A Culture Of Uncertainty

Randy Conley told us that “Control is the opposite of trust” in Simple Truth #45, “The Opposite Of Trust Is Not Distrust – It’s Control” in Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley. This simple truth really resonated with me. I have experienced leaders who are control freaks and keep those they serve in the dark. I always have considered this a lack of self-esteem thing and desire to make sure all credit was able to be attributed to them. All this really serves to do is cause distrust and cause team members to shut down. This then brings about great uncertainty for everyone involved.

The control freak leader I described above is the most frustrating, smothering and energy sapping leader to work for. But, leading is not about controlling; it is about guiding, coaching and empowering others to reach a destination. Great leaders know how to manage systems, not control people. This goes back to making sure we have developed the technical skills necessary for those we serve to successfully carry out the mission of the organization. Trust is a verb, not a noun.

Put The Us In Trust

As I continue my summer study of Ulysses S. Grant it has been interesting to compare the polarized political and social order of that time with today’s. We have had many periods of polarized social unrest. As I study Grant’s relationships, it becomes evident how important the “us” in trust is. This is the topic of Simple Truth #32: “There’s No Trust Without Us” in Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley. Conley pointed out that trust is a psychological and emotional construct between two people. Conley said, “There’s no trust without us – you and me, two people willing to take a risk and be vulnerable in front of each other with the expectation that the other won’t take advantage” (p. 87). Think about the greatest relationships you have; that comment by Conley pretty much sums up why those relationships are great.

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

I love the above quote from Abraham Lincoln. We need to take the initiative to get to know others better and try to build relationships that enable putting the us in trust. Lincoln and Grant became great friends in the very short time they were able to be together. One thing my study has revealed is that the Lincoln/Grant friendship was built completely on trust. The two of them worked hard to nurture trust. Who do you need to work harder at nurturing trust with?

Leaders Trust First

“In the workplace, it’s your job as a leader to extend trust to your people first. It’s not their job to have blind faith in you simply by virtue of your power or position of power” (p. 81). I loved this from Randy Conley in Simple Truth #30 “Someone Must Make The First Move To Extend Trust. Leaders Go First.” I’ve always said you can’t workshop or activity trust. Trust has to be earned in real time work. We must first give our trust to find out if someone is trustworthy.

I think of this being like the first time I gave my son the keys to one of our vehicles after he got his drivers license and saying have a good time and please be careful. I had to trust that he would take the examples and teachings of his mother and me and put it to use as a good driver and make good choices. By the way, he earned our trust and six years later still has it. But it started with us trusting him and giving him the keys, first. I’ve always liked how Stephen M.R. Covey put it, “The job of a leader is to go first, to extend trust first. Not a blind trust without expectations and accountability, but rather a “smart trust” with clear expectations and strong accountability built into the process. The best leaders always lead out with a decided propensity to trust, as opposed to a propensity not to trust.” How about you? Are you ready to go first?

It’s As Easy As ABCD

As I dive into the second half of Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways To Be A Servant Leader and Build Trust, Making Common Sense Common Practice, Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley, I’m thinking about how trust is a word we use a lot without always thinking about how trust works and why it’s so important in our lives. It really is a bridge or social glue that allows us to be vulnerable and become comfortable with doing something differently, trying something new, or dealing with uncertainty. In Simple Truth #28, “Building Trust Is A Skill That Can Be Learned And Developed,”Randy told us that trust is about learning and using the right behaviors, and then becoming better at building trust with practice.

I’ve heard Brené Brown say that trust isn’t built in grand gestures, but in the small moments that people treat what is important to you with care. This goes right along with the ABCD Model introduced in Simple Truths of Leadership to foster and grow relationships and communities built on trust. Here is the model (p. 77):

  • Able: demonstrate competence
  • Believable: act with integrity
  • Connected: show care and concern for others
  • Dependable: honor commitments

All these skills/qualities contribute to the degree of trust people have for each other. All can be developed and honed. Trust is an ongoing and symbiotic relationship. We need to keep working to get better at our close bonds of trust.