Trust as a verb means “to believe.” If you believe in something or someone, then you have confidence in them.
To gain trust, we must be believable so that another will have confidence in our ability to keep our word, do our part, and follow through on expectations set. It is what authenticity is all about – consistency of character through all actions and words.
At times, it seems we toss words about, and they lose their meaning or luster. Trust and authenticity may be at the top of this list. In social media, we talk about the importance of authenticity. In business and government, we talk about the principles of trust. We seem to try to make these simple ideas complex.
Trust is active through believing. Trust is maintained when our confidence in someone is consistently realized.
The answer is straightforward. We gain trust when we:
Keep our word.
Our words need to mean something. What gives them meaning is how we back them up. It is about keeping promises, yet it is more. It is about doing what we say. It is about living the way we talk.
Keeping our word builds substance to our character.
Deliver as expected.
Each day, we have responsibilities. When we deliver on them in a timely and complete manner, confidence is gained. Yes, it is about living up to our responsibilities, but it is also about a being solid citizen in our workplace, neighborhood, and community.
Delivering as expected adds depth to our integrity.
Follow through on actions requested.
People depend on us. Work is a process, and each step involves another person. When someone falls down on their actions, the process is weakened, and results fail to materialize. Following through on what is requested or required strengthens a process and keeps activities flowing forward. Process or not, an action followed through on enhances confidence in our abilities and capabilities.
Following through enables the speed of trust.
This one is foundational. To be trusted, we need to have the confidence of self. It is not about being cocky or going off half-cocked. It is about being fully purposeful in our words and actions, laughing at ourselves when needed and learning on how get better at all times. We need to faith in ourselves, in what we are doing and how we are doing it.
Trusting ourselves empowers our soul.
Stephen M.R. Covey states it best:
“Trust is equal parts character and competence… You can look at any leadership failure, and it’s always a failure of one or the other.” – Stephen M.R. Covey, The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything
No matter which generation we come from, trust needs to be engaged. We need to simplify our concepts but not our principles. Each generation has had trust challenges, and we seem to have more than our fair share right now. Through bailouts and fiscal cliffs, we may be less confident and less trusting.
The Milliennial Generation, however, holds great hope for a renewal of trust. With their social media savviness and social good actions, we have a lot to believe in. As they enter the workplace in greater numbers, the simplicity of trust will enable the authenticity of character.
As Lance Armstrong sits in Oprah’s redemption chair this week, it will be interesting to see what unfolds in his story of honesty. Lance is a past generation, and he distorted trust. As we look forward to the next generation, our hope grows in how they will restore integrity to new levels of action.
How do you explain trust to someone? What do you see in terms of trust in the next generation of leaders?