It is an assessment we make, either consciously or unconsciously, regarding the extent to which we can count on someone to honor their promises, as well as the sincerity of their commitment to act in service of the commitments we share.
On a very personal level we also make assessments about whether someone “has our back.” Can they truly be counted on to consider our best interests, not only their own?
Unfortunately conversations about trust all too often digress into nebulous assessments made based on feelings, personality preferences, and ungrounded interpretations of intentions.
We too easily turn trust it into one of those “soft” conversations that is easy to have when trust is strong. After all, “I trust you” is a conversation that feels good to everyone involved.
On the other hand, “I do not trust you” is more often than not a conclusion that invisibly drives our interactions, rather than a conversation we have with the hope and intention that trust can yet be forged.
This not only limits the satisfaction of our relationships. As leaders it limits what we can accomplish.
Our inability to talk about trust in a way that gives us access to change our relationships for the better and in service of better outcomes for all involved is perhaps one of the most significant gaps in leadership capability today.
The good news is that closing this leadership capability gap begins with a simple, yet potent, shift in how we approach matters of trust, both in building it, as well as in repairing trust that has been broken.
The hard truth about trust is that if we want to lead effectively we must be willing to make a shift that may leave us feeling vulnerable.
We must be willing to reach beyond our gut feelings, personality preferences, and all of the trappings of our relational comfort zone. Instead we must learn to mindfully make assessments about trust by considering the sincerity, abilities, and integrity demonstrated in a person’s words and deeds over time.
We must also be willing to risk having conversations based on those assessments with a commitment to mutual growth and in service of a commitment much larger than that of the individuals involved.
Being trustworthy is an act of effective self-leadership. Giving others a genuine opportunity to gain your trust even though they may falter, however, is an act of great leadership.
Are you willing to take the risk and make the shift to embrace the hard truth about trust?
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