THE OBLITERATION OF trust in recent years has been alarming. Once lost, trust is difficult to rebuild. Leaders need to learn how to build trust consistently and prevent major trust withdrawals. My model for building trust has three elements:
1. Table stakes. These basic building blocks of integrity must be present to kindle trust. In poker, you must ante up table stakes to play. Things like being honest, being open, communicating, being consistent, and being ethical simply must be in play as table stakes or the leader has no chance.
2. Enabling actions. These actions build trust further once the table stakes are present. Here are some examples: following up, advocating well, being fair, and admitting mistakes. These actions enable the leader to withstand trust withdrawals that happen as a result of ill-advised decisions or unfortunate circumstances.
Table stakes and enabling actions are necessary but insufficient conditions for trust to kindle and endure. Without “reinforcing candor”, the table stakes and enabling actions may build trust alittle, but their potency is blunted.
3. Reinforcing candor. This is the ability to make people glad they expressed a concern with a leader’s inconsistency. Usually, people are punished for expressing a concern with the leader’s actions. When high trust and transparency are present, the leader can set aside his or her ego and reinforce the person who challenges an action. Doing so creates a large trust deposit and allows for future trust-building exchanges. When candor is not reinforced, people hide their true feelings and do not challenge the leader, so trust is hard to maintain. Leaders who consistently reinforce candor build a culture where trust grows and deepens.
View graphic of model http://www.leadergrow.com/TRUST9e.png