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Putting the Pieces Together That Build Trust

The other night, my daughter and I watched TV and came across a movie starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner (My Fellow Americans) as feuding ex-presidents who spend most of the movie trying to clear their name from a bribery scheme and murder for which they are being framed. In reality the crimes lead to the sitting president (played by Dan Aykroyd). When the two ex-presidents have figured out who is behind the crime but still lack any documented evidence, Jack Lemmon exclaims, “We have to inform the American people?”

“Why will the American people believe us?” Garner asks. Lemmon answers, “Because we’re presidents!” Two seconds later, without any further statement and simply looking at each other, both politicians realize that they have no credibility with the American people simply because of their position. They realized that they do not have the people’s trust. The screenwriters aptly highlighted a growing problem in today’s culture that is reflected in many organizations – missing trust in leadership.

In their book Becoming a Trustworthy Leader (2013), Anneal and Karen Mishra define trust as “one party’s willingness to be vulnerable to another party based on the belief that the latter party is reliable, open, competent, and compassionate.” According to the Mishras, these are the four components of trust.

Reliability. Can I be counted on to do what I say I will do? How well do I keep my promises? Do I exhibit consistency between my words and actions? Reliability is the first component of the ROCC of Trust— without it, others will not give us a second chance.

Openness is a willingness to be honest and transparent in dealing with others. If others believe we are honest, they will trust what we have to say to them. Our transparency also encourages more openness from others. Openness demonstrates a willingness to listen to new ideas and perspectives. Being open also includes being fair and transparent in sharing information or perspectives.

Competence relates to our ability to perform and meet job expectations. When we trust someone to be competent, we have faith that they can perform their share of the workload. Let’s face it. If people deem us to be incompetent, they are likely to terminate their relationship with us.

Compassion means not taking unfair advantage of people. Are we able and willing to set aside our own issues so that we can be truly empathetic toward others? Do we place the interests of others at a level equal to or above our own? Being a truly compassionate person requires investing time and demonstrating empathy.

Trust Tips 1. Being reliable means being dependable. Can others rely on you? 2. Being open means sharing information and being transparent. Do others believe you are fair and honest? 3. Being competent means being able to do the job. Do others have confidence in your abilities? 4. Being compassionate means caring about others’ interests as much you care about your own. Do others feel you genuinely care?

Tom Rosson, Ph.D. is a guest blogger for InitiativeOne. Tom is a contributing author in the InitiativeOne Leadership Transformation Process Notebook and resides in Germany where he serves as Regional Superintendent for the Church of God.


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