As a manager, your actions either build trust or destroy it. There’s no middle ground.
But what is trust and how do we measure it?
Most managers over-index on their technical abilities (credibility) to build trust with their team and stakeholders. Although well-intentioned, this strategy doesn’t get them far. To build everlasting trust, managers have to work on three other dimensions of trust: Reliability, Intimacy, and Self-Orientation to increase their trustworthiness.
Introducing The Trust Equation:
Charles M Green (Author of the Trusted Advisor) wanted to figure out how we can measure our trustworthiness. His research led to the Trust Equation which uses four objective variables to measure trustworthiness. These four variables are best described as Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy, and Self-Orientation.
1. Credibility (competence)
Credibility is related to your technical competence and domain expertise. When your team knows you’re an expert in your field and trust your knowledge, they begin to trust you as well (There’s a reason doctors wear lab coats and hang diplomas on the wall – they’re building instant credibility).
2. Reliability (Consistency)
This is about personal integrity. Reliable leaders are congruent in their thoughts and actions. They lead by example and employees recognize that. There are way too many well intentioned bosses who sacrifice consistency due to the demands of a challenging job. They fail to follow the same rules that are used to hold others accountable causing employees to not only lose respect but also trust.
3. Intimacy (Connection)
Intimacy simply refers to connecting with your team on a human level, to truly empathize with them and build a bond of psychological safety. Research from Gallup suggests that employees whose managers are open and approachable are more engaged than employees whose managers are reserved.
4. Self-orientation (Me vs. We)
Self-orientation is about excessive focus on yourself and not enough on your direct reports. A significant source of distrust arises when managers make decisions to benefit themselves and not the greater good of the team. The inverse of self-orientation is a servant leader who works to serve others. Most leaders need to work on self-orientation, hence it occupies the denominator in the equation.