Trust is built up over time, little by little over a number of interactions, but can take only seconds to destroy. With trust, teams can move forward, collaborate and create. Without it, all of our energy will be invested in self-protection, suspicion and second-guessing. One of my favorite Internet memes states "A relationship without trust is like a phone with no service. All you can do is play games."
In business, building trust starts from the top. As leaders, we realize that we can only control our own behavior. But by modeling trust and integrity, by speaking the truth with respect, we can help create a culture for our whole organization. Trustworthy leaders do what they say they're going to do. They don't dodge hard issues or decisions, but also know how to deliver bad news or criticisms with compassion and tact.
Did you know that almost every faith tradition has some version of the "Golden Rule"?
Buddhism: "Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5.18
Christianity: "In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12
Confucianism: "One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct....loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself." Analects 15.23
Hinduism: "This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you." Mahabharata 5:1517
Islam: "Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself." Hadith 13
To create and sustain a culture of trust, we must treat our team members, as well as our clients, the way we wish to be treated. Putting in the time and effort to establish trusting relationships will pay off in a myriad of ways, especially when you are leading in new directions with unknown variables. As executive coach David Armistead said in a recent Ted talk, "Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware."