Article (August-2018)


Winning Trust : What the Man in the Mirror should do

Prof. VK Shrotryia

Designation : -   Professor (HR & Strategy)

Organization : -  Department of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, Delhi


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Sincerity, Reliability, Competence and Care are identified as four assessment criterion of trust. In the book titled The Thin Book of Trust, which was published around a decade back, Charles discusses his model of trust and provides practical solutions to avoid the enemies of trust around these four criterions. This model is timeless and helps one to build trust - a primary requisite for effective leadership - and lead a team of trustworthy people.
Effective leaders create loyal and smart teams through winning the trust of team members which is duly reciprocated with an intent of concern and achieving organizational goal. Leaders go beyond rules and help making new rules. They cannot just afford to be manipulative and opportunistic and use others as sanitary pads. This may reap fruits for a very short period but otherwise it shall ruin the image of the leader and shall compromise with the achievement of organizational goal. Hence trust building helps in long run and in the process one has to identify the enemies of trust and deal with them appropriately.
When required information is hidden from the stakeholders or omitted and when updation is not provided, sincerity gets compromised and becomes an enemy of trust. Telling probable truths and talking different things to different people, which is termed as speaking from different sides of your mouth, are also important reasons for getting viewed as compromising sincerity. It is also caused because the priorities are not put forth clearly and there seems to be utter confusion between what one aspires and what one can do.
When one is not clear of what one is doing but agrees to or commits oneself by saying 'Yes', it results in compromising second criterion of trust, i.e., reliability. The belief that one can not say 'no' affects one's reliability for others. It may also lead to develop a sense of guilt in the person. Clinical psychology professor at Cornell, Herbert Fensterheim, authored one of the best selling title - Don't say yes when you want to say no. Thinking that saying 'no' is no good, is short term respite from long term culpability. One has to learn how to say no and put across views without being rude.
Your followers are going to lose trust in you if you are overselling yourself and that is where competence gets questioned and one lands up in the devil's shoes. Being overconfident and avoiding taking help or following advices of colleagues might result in failing this criterion and resulting in loss of trust. One needs to be aware of one's limitations and avoid being overconfident of knowing everything related to the issue. Asking for advice and help does not amount to any kind of surrender or being subservient to anyone.
Good listening is a casuality with many bosses. This casuality is considered to be an enemy of trust as subordinates tend to develop a sense of mistrust towards the boss. Listening for the sake of listening or fake listening must be avoided to win trust. Employees might get into careless attitude if they experience that they are not allowed to put across their views and are not considered stakeholder in the issue. A culture of care has to be built in order to involve stakeholders and win their trust. Their ideas, opinions and views need to be honored and acknowledged. If there are decisions which have been taken without the inputs from the concerned people who are going to be affected by them, be sure, they are going to suspect your intentions and question your decision. If care is not visible through actions and experiences, it shall affect organizational performance negatively. One has to be clear about taking care of the interest of the stakeholders as well as displaying it in one's behavior.
So if one has to win trust, one has to believe and practice in - I mean what I say, say what I mean, and act accordingly (Sincerity), you can count on me to deliver what I promise (Reliability), I know I can do this, I don't know if I can do that (Competence), and We are in this together (Care). And if at all somewhere trust is broken by actions or accumulation of the enemies of trust, the best way to move forward is to acknowledge the betrayal of trust and apologise. Many leaders have done it and won trust in the team.