Simple Ways to Build Trust

Coach’s Corner ~ A Conversation with ECN Executive Coach Randy, retired SES ~ How Can We Build Trust? 

There are two tools (models) that I use in my own life and share with leaders.  I’ve used them at my own staff meetings – instead of just talking about the business at hand, I would use staff meetings to really get into these discussions around trust, as well as staff development opportunities.

From The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey, there are 13 behaviors that I tend to use if I feel like I’m not trusting that person. Covey looks at two different parts – character and competence. The roots and the trunk represent character and intent – what is our intent and what is the intent of the other person? Competence represents the capabilities or the branches of the tree. I tend to hold the tree up in front of me to see whether it’s the character or the competence. Within this “tree” is where we find the13 certain behaviors.

Build Trust Through Behavior – Yours and Theirs

  1. Is a person talking straight? Are they honest about what they say?
  2. Are they demonstrating respect?
  3. Are they transparent? Are they creating transparency in what they do?
  4. Do they right wrongs? If I’ve made a wrong, do I admit it and do I take accountability for it?
  5. Is there a loyalty involved in the behavior?
  6. Do they deliver results?
  7. Are they getting better?  Sometimes if we make a mistake, we own that mistake and we get better.
  8. Are they confronting reality and being real about what’s going on?
  9. Are they clarifying any expectations – of me, of the team, of stakeholders?
  10. Are they practicing accountability?
  11. Listen first to make sure that you’re understanding what the person is saying. If I’m just trusting somebody, that person may not ever give me the feeling that they’re actually listening to me. I focus on listening as it may deepen my understanding of the situation or shift my perspective.  I might learn something I don’t know about the situation or the person.
  12. Keep commitments – doing what I said I’m going to do.
  13. Showing and extending trust – model trust behavior. If they’re not modeling it and I am, I want to look at what behavior is missing that I need to concentrate on to help me and ultimately help them get to a better place with trust.

Examining these behaviors takes a lot of attention and self-awareness. With the backdrop of these 13 behaviors as a “cheat” card essentially, I’m better able to say, “Wow, what’s missing here?” and do a quick analysis. I also ask myself, “Is it something that I’m missing or something they’re doing that I’m not catching?” Maybe they’re being transparent and I’m not seeing it, or maybe they’re being respectful and I’m not seeing it. Something I believe too, is observing myself as I go through this process of making sure that what I’m seeing is correct and clear, and the actions that I take to get the results that I want. Working through these 13 trust behaviors is a way that I do that, but it takes the intention and attention to be able to pull yourself back and step through this process and look at those behaviors.

Another one that I’ve found to be helpful in working with leaders, is I rely a lot on Brené Brown. She has an acronym called braving trust. And B-R-A-V-I-N-G is actually an acronym which stands for boundaries, B, boundaries. You respect my boundaries, I respect your boundaries. And I’m willing to let you know, if we get outside our boundaries. Being reliable is the R. Do what you say and say what you do. Accountability, one of those other behaviors we talked about, own your mistakes.Vaults is the V, once someone shares with you as confidence, it stays there, it stays in the vault. Integrity is the I, you choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is just fun, fast. The N is for non-judgment. You’re not judging the person as they talk it through. And when we talk about how we feel without judgment, we can ask each other for help without judgment. And then finally, the G is generosity. You extend the most generosity possible to the intention of words and actions, and you really think about coming and speaking from the heart and listening from the heart.

If I don’t trust someone else, I put the 13 behaviors and the BRAVING characteristics in front of that person and say, “Okay, where do I need to get more information from that person to be able to trust them more?”

Among many types of tools for a leader, finding the right tools that are going to fit and actually deploy is important.

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