There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world—one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love.
On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.
That one thing is trust.
—Steven M. R. Covey, Author of The Speed of Trust
Trust is a fundamental building block for organizations that seek to build a collaborative culture. Since power is dispersed and each area is interdependent, a breech of trust can undermine the integrity of the entire system.
According to Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, “Our market system depends on trust. Trust in the work of our colleagues and trust in the word of those with whom we do business.” Greenspan goes on to say that the honesty and integrity of a company are a function of the character of the chief executive officer (CEO). “If a CEO countenances managing reported earnings, that attitude will drive the entire accounting regime of the firm. If he or she instead insists on an objective representation of a company’s business dealings, that standard will govern recordkeeping and due diligence.”
In our complex business environment, trust is built through relationships. Specifically, our behaviors build or undermine trust. And our ability to communicate forms the foundation of those relationships. Margaret Wheatley and Byron Kellner-Rogers describe the importance of trust in organizations:
Relationships are another essential condition that engenders the organizations that we see. The forms of the organization bear witness to how people experience one another. In fear-filled organizations, impervious structures keep materializing. People are considered dangerous. They need to be held apart from one another.
But in systems of trust, people are free to create the relationships they need. Trust enables the system to open. The system expands to include those it had excluded. More conversations—more diverse and diverging views—become important. People decide to work with those from whom they had been separate.
In The Speed of Trust, Steven Covey discusses how trust is a new competitive advantage. In a business landscape where speed is essential, the presence of trust empowers leaders to eliminate many steps related to governance, due diligence, and so on. The organizations that depend on large volumes of data and employ Business Intelligence depend on the veracity or the data as well as the data analysts and architects.
Covey offers 13 behaviors that are based on enduring principles that govern success. They are based on personal credibility and integrity. And they apply to all areas of an organization as well as life in general. Next week I will share some those 13 behaviors and my thoughts about them with you.