Credibility Gaps: Leaders Know the Waves of Trust

Picture the ripple effect of throwing a stone into a calm pond. The waves get larger and cover more surface as they expand. Think of trust-building in this way.

Stephen M. R. Covey says, “As trust is manifest in each successive wave, the effect of trust becomes cumulative and exponential.”

Below, in order, are the waves Covey speaks about. Further, I’m also sharing the gaps which result when a particular wave of trust is under-developed.

Self Trust

Here is where we start. Firstly, focus on inspiring confidence and building credibility. In other words, if we can’t remain confident in our own ability to keep commitments, walk our talk, and meet goals, we will have a credibility gap.

There are four “Cores of Credibility” I’ll write more about in a couple weeks. For now, I will simply list them: Integrity, Intent, Capabilities, and Results. Without going into detail, you can already see that credibility starts with you. So, trust yourself, follow-through, and project confidence. There’s no substitute for observable results.

Relationship Trust

This is the wave we’ll spend most of our time on today. There are 13 trust-building behaviors, categorized into three groups.

The first group: Character-based behaviors. These include straight talk, showing respect, being transparent, righting wrongs, and showing loyalty.

The second group: Competence-based behaviors. These include delivering results, getting better, confronting reality, clarifying expectations, and staying accountable.

The third group: Lastly, the behaviors which combine both character and competence are listening first, keeping commitments, and extending trust.

In upcoming posts, we will explore each of the 13 behaviors in more depth.

Organizational Trust

In this wave, we align values to actions on an organization-wide scale. This can be accomplished through structures, systems, and symbols. Additionally, you may notice a correlation between this wave and the information in the book Reframing Organizations by Bolman and Deal.

Market Trust

Reputation matters. We build our reputation by delivering on our value propositions. For instance, consider the brands you trust. Clearly, they have this wave mastered. Therefore, high-trust organizations have patrons who stay loyal, say nice things, and give the benefit of the doubt. This type of trust can’t be achieved without mastering the previous waves first.

Societal Trust

This final wave is about contribution and responsibility. Additionally, it is about making the conscious decision to value and invest in the well-being of others and carrying out that decision in every dimension, whether or not it’s profitable.

Next week, we will focus more about the link between credibility and behavior. We will also explore the wrong kinds of trust in which we accidentally engage.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

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