Friday, April 17, 2009

seeing trust

Hve you ever found yourself thinking about something, and then seeing it everywhere? Over the past 7-10 days, I have been considering the importance of trust within an organization (especially my organization) and suddenly see the word in everything I read. I picked up Warren Bennis' Managing the Dream at Half-Price Books and I kept seeing the word "trust" throughout. I invited in a speaker for our Thrivent Scholars program, and he talked about Stephen Covey's The Speed of Trust. I talked with a colleague, and he mentioned how important trust was for his organization. So I started thinking that maybe I should pay a little more attention to this concept as it relates to Concordia University today.

Anytime an organization goes through a change (especially a BIG change, aka "the move"), trust can grease the wheels for that change to occur in a smooth fashion. But there are two items about trust that I consider critical to the process:
1. TRUST SHOULD BE GIVEN, NOT EARNED: how can one really earn trust? If I make someone earn trust, then when they do something I don't like, will that trust automaticaly be withdrawn? How much does someone have to do before I trust them? Who decides what that threshold is? If I make someone earn my trust, I am operating on the principle of law, not grace. But if I can GIVE trust, then I am giving them a gift, which allows them to act in FREEDOM, not fear of wondering if they have done enough. Imagine what could happen in organizations if everyone GAVE trust immediately to everyone else?
2. TRUST SHOULD BE GIVEN ACROSS THE ORGANIZATION. Some may word this to say, "trust goes both ways;" I would say trust goes ALL ways. In my organization, administrators should trust faculty and faculty should trust administrators. I think that often times, people expect trust to automatically flow "downward" but not so much "upward." If trust is to work within an organization, people have to give that trust across the board - and not make some people (or groups of people) earn it.

Stephen Covey says that "trust is the one thing that changes everything." I would agree. He also says that "people respond to trust." So the challenge for leaders is two-fold: first, do you trust those you lead without exception; and second, have you built a culture which honors, values, and rewards trusting behaviors? If we want thing to change, then trust is critical.
What have you done today to give trust to others?

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