Trust: It’s What You Make It

Coach’s Corner

~ A Conversation with ECN Executive Coach Randy, retired SES ~

What Does Trust Mean?

What I’ve had people, especially leaders, think about is who have you trusted in terms of work and non-work? And what makes us trust or distrust? What characteristics come to mind when that happens?  Many times they really have to reflect on what those characteristics are, and each one of them are different.

What I’ve come to lean on, and it’s something that I found very helpful in my coaching is something that Stephen M.R. Covey put together. It’s a great metaphor in The SPEED of Trust. Picture a tree, a tree that’s fully grown. Picture what is underneath the ground – the roots of the tree. As you look closer, you’ll see the trunk of that tree and then branches and leaves. In terms of trust, the roots are the integrity. Trust is about integrity, character and intent.

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? What’s the integrity or the trunk of that tree? Competence represents the capabilities or the branches of the tree. And the leaves are the results. When we think about the character and competence of a person, we think about the four cores of credibility of trust.

When we talk about intent, what does that really mean? It means, does that person care? Is there transparency? Is there openness? When we think about character and integrity, what comes to mind is, is the person honest? Are they being fair? Are they being authentic? And then when we think about the competence, as it relates to trust, and the capability that I mentioned, capability really resembles that of our skills. Does a person have the skills we need? Do I trust their skills? Do I trust their knowledge? Do I trust their experience?

Finally, do they get results? People can get results without having trust, but the value of seeing that tree is – are the results backed up by the intent, the integrity and the capability?

The results come out of the reputation of the person, the credibility of the person, and their performance. When someone asks me, “How do I show up? Are people trusting me? Is my staff trusting me?”  I tend to put those pieces in front of me, along with other characteristics.  I ask myself – how do I show up? Do I show up as a strong tree in front of others? Do I have those characteristics or those cores of credibility when someone looks to me?

Yeah. So again, I would hold that tree up. Okay, where am I losing that trust? Is that the fact that I don’t see that the intent is there, I don’t see their integrity? Where is it that my mind is not getting a clear picture? And where might I need to investigate a bit more to be able to trust that person more so. There were some other trust behaviors I look at. Is the person talking straight? Do they demonstrate respect?

There are 13 behaviors I tend to use if I feel like I’m not trusting that person. I tend to hold the tree up in front of me to see whether it’s the character or the competence. Within that, there certain behaviors that tend to get out of line for me.  Would you like to know those 13 behaviors?

Stay tuned for the answer in an upcoming blog post!

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