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The Greatest Growth Lever – Trust

Trust concept with hand pressing social icons on blue world map background.

Part 1 – Why Leverage Trust?

Contributed by Andy Hass and Richard Bents

“Trust is the highest form of motivation. It brings out the very best in people.” Stephen R. Covey

Google conducted a massive research project to study what made their most successful teams and called it Project Aristotle. After studying 180 teams, using 250 variables and 32 statistical models, they found the absolute #1 variable by far in their highest performing teams was trust / psychological safety (we’ll explain similarities and differences in the two – in Part 2) – above intelligence, accountability, responsibility, diversity, strategy, process and everything else.

Neuroscientist / NeuroEconomist Paul Zak found high trust organizations had 50% higher productivity, 50% higher retention, 74% less stress, 76% more engagement, 106%, more energy, 17% more pay. Zak is also a researcher of the brain chemical Oxytocin which is released when we trust.

Professor Amy Edmondson from Harvard has studied and established best practices for effective teaming – across multiple industries, and the critical element of trust and psychological safety for team success.

In MIT’s Executive Education Course on Neuroscience for Leadership, one of the four areas of focus is “Creating the conditions for success in your organization by leading teams and shifting the culture from fear to trust.”

Trust is at the foundation of our own research, consulting, and collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, the University of Wyoming and business partners across Europe. We seek to better understand trust levels over a period of time and the associated impact on organizational performance. We are also in the process of writing our I TRUST book.

grid for high trust v low trust

We like to approach individual, team, and organizational leadership developments like scientists by collecting and interpreting data. In a 360 review of a leader, we look at 22 aspects of management and leadership.

We take a holistic, systems-based approach to leadership, but if we could greatly emphasize just one aspect, we would frequently help a leader develop more trust – self-trust, trustworthiness, and a propensity to trust others. We’ll explain more on this in Part 2 of the Greatest Growth Lever.

Part 2 – What is Trust and How is it Measured?

“Trust is the conduit for influence; it’s the medium through which ideas travel.” Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy

Trust:

A belief in the reliability, goodness, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something; it is that in which we have faith or confidence. In this sense, trust is an emotion. In addition, trusting or placing trustworthiness includes a process of analysis, a cognitive, more objective thought process. Trust typically is earned or developed over time.

Some people like to understand the differences in Trust versus Psychological Safety.

Psychological Safety:

“A shared belief within a team that it is safe for interpersonal risk taking… and that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson.  It is the instantaneous feeling of safety that someone has to feel free to speak up.

We find it helpful to think about trust in 3 ways to leverage it to its full power. Self-Trust (how you view and trust yourself), trustworthiness (how others view and trust you), and propensity to trust (trusting others, looking for the good in others, seeing their strengths, and giving them autonomy to perform).

It is critical for the leader of a team to exhibit (or develop) sufficient self-trust (having self-confidence, self-esteem and self-acceptance), because without it, it is difficult to be seen as trustworthy by others (show integrity/responsibility, show benevolence/kindness, and show their abilities/competence) and for them to have a propensity to trust others.

In addition, the leader has to show enough benevolence (authentic concern for others) to be seen as trustworthy. “It’s not uncommon for people to overvalue the importance of demonstrating their competence and power, often at the expense of demonstrating their warmth.”  (Amy Cuddy).

Benevolence is critically important in psychological safety and is typically more important than the other two. Finally, your behaviors in your collaborations will influence your collective results with others.

We use a variety of assessments and instruments to measure various aspects of trust in our efforts to accelerate individual, team, and organizational trust and performance. It involves self-evaluation questions and team/group member questions.

We’ll share more about closing the trust gap between the desire for high trust relationships/teams/organizations, and the acceptance of what it takes to get there in Part 3 of the Greatest Growth Lever.

Part 3 – The Trust Gap –

Closing the gap in the Desire for Trust… and the Work it takes to Achieve Trust

We believe there is increasing awareness in the value of trust. We see organizations putting it in corporate Vision, Mission and Values statements.

It feels good to say trust is important in relationships and even with customers – and from Part 1 (Why Leverage Trust), we shared research where high trust organizations had 50% higher productivity, 50% higher retention, 74% less stress, 76% more engagement, 106%, more energy, and 17% more pay.

Unfortunately, awareness of the value of trust, or declaring you or your organization is all about trust, doesn’t always translate to a high-trust organization and the corresponding benefits.

Research Case Study 1:

We conducted a 2-hour awareness training along with measurement assessments on various aspects of trust with the senior executive team of a US-based company. At the time, they were completely aware of the benefits and elements of trust.

With this company, we did not do any coaching/consulting. A year later, when we did a post 1-year measurement assessment, there was no statistically significant change in levels of trust. The takeaway – awareness does not always lead to change and results.

We were later brought in to help the leadership team through a combination of 1:1 executive coaching and team development using our assessments, change process and coaching.

Case Study 2:

Another client, a large European Insurance company, faced a difficult future with declining sales and profitability in a competitive insurance market. In less than a year, they successfully reversed and transformed sales and profitability. 

The top 86 executives were assessed, then went through a 7-month program using our change process involving coaching and training. They exceeded their sales plans.  The post-assessments showed statistically significant increases in all levels of trust. The following year showed increased market share and increased profit.

“I am very confident of the next steps. I already know that management skills development is a long road requiring patience, willingness and determination, and of course measurement. People are understanding what is happening now because they started experiencing that behaving differently is possible and can be a source of success. As a ‘rational’ leader, we just have to admit that time to time it is worth investing much less in IT tools and process …and a bit or much more in human potential.”  – Yann Menetrier, CEO

Our “I TRUST” Change Process

One example of an assessment we use measures the character and emotional intelligence of a person. It has high correlation to how effective individuals and teams are in their ability to create a high-trust, high-performing team.

Our efforts are to move individuals into the transforming, WeGo, quadrant, where they exhibit behaviors, actions and characteristics of self-trust, trustworthiness and trusting others. When the vast majority of people in a team are in this quadrant, we often see breakthrough results (e.g. innovation, productivity, sales and profits).

What will you do to increase self-trust, your trustworthiness, and your trust in others to realize the benefits of the greatest growth lever?

Consider working with a trusted colleague, mentor or coach/advisor to improve:

  • Creating a safe environment for your team to speak up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes
  • Your showing vulnerability and stating you need the entire team for mutual success
  • Self-trust, insecurities, imposter syndrome, being authentic
  • A specific relationship
  • Your benevolence/kindness to others
  • Your solicitation and sincere listening to other points of view and new ideas
  • Results – shore up skills through self-learning/education and pay attention to results

If you want to learn more about building a high-performing team by increasing the trust within the team, learn more here. Visit Doug’s Team Trust Model.

Or if you’d rather just talk about your business, schedule a time with Doug Thorpe www.TalkwithDougT.com

More About Building Better Teams Thru Trust

Are you responsible for a team at work? Is it performing at the highest level you can imagine?

elevating team performance

I’ve been writing about the impact that trust can have on your team. But why does trust matter?

Trust is not merely a soft, social virtue; rather, trust is a pragmatic, hard-edged, economic, and actionable asset that you can create. There is a compelling case for trust. Teams and organizations that operate with high trust significantly outperform teams and organizations with low trust—this has been proven in dozens of studies, across a multitude of industries and sectors.

Stephen M.R.Covey

In my last article, I introduced a powerful and proven model that defines the stages for building trust on your team. (You can see it here).

The model explains the interrelationships between six sets of key questions that team members ask themselves about the team they are on. Leaders are responsible for influencing each team member’s answers to these six questions.

You, as the leader, must evaluate each team member’s progress in positively answering the questions. If you sense someone is stuck on one of the stages, it’s your duty to help them get unstuck.

Team Trust

Trust in Action

In this post, I want to share with you some of the examples of ways this model performs “in the real world.”

There is not enough time or space in this post to cover all of the possibilities. However, I can share some powerful insights that are actual examples of questions and stories I hear when I coach on this topic.

People

Step #1 is the key question “Do I even want to be here?”

Each individual member of a team must ask and resolve this fundamental question. The answer needs to be positive or else the remaining questions may be moot.

Clients of mine have stated “Everyone in the company has traveled unique paths to get where they are. Therefore, the definition of reality may be completely impacted by their personal perception of the business environment from which they came. i.e. there is little room for newness or change in the situation.”

This observation is not unique. The statement could be true for most employees everywhere. We all, in some way or another, look at new situations with a biased eye based on our experiences of the past.

The statement actually fits squarely with the meaning of step #1 in the model. Again, each person on the team must answer the basic question “Do I even want to be here?”

The model makes no attempt to qualify the answer(s). Your experiences do drive your perception and reality. The question becomes “what about now?”

Side note: If someone’s initial answer to #1 is negative, they can be swayed by learning and understanding the remaining questions. More on that later.

Purpose

Step #2 is about purpose. “Do I understand the purpose for this team and can I buy-in?”

At this step, the leader must provide clarity and simplicity.

All too often, the original purpose for creating the team gets lost along the way. New teams get the benefit of having at least some idea of their stated purpose to begin with. But as time goes on, that purpose can get confused or clouded. It’s the leader’s responsibility to keep the purpose focused, simple, and clear.

If the team starts to veer off course from the primary purpose, there needs to be a discussion specifically about reconnecting on the purpose.

Employees cannot give their all to a cause that is uncertain or unclear. Clarity elevates commitment.

Trust Comes from Relationships

When my model first hit the LinkedIn circuit, it went viral. I received comments reminding me about the power of relationships for building trust.

I couldn’t agree more. Leaders must build relationships with their team to establish a climate that allows trust to grow.

The leader must set the tone for the team to be able to establish trust. If you are responsible for a team, YOU have to set the course for whether or not trust might grow.

There are rare occasions when the team establsihes its own level of trust yet ignores the leader.

In my early career, I worked for an executive who was not worthy of respect and trust. My colleagues (his team) and I banded together to create an alliance against him. We didn’t do it maliciously. We did it for survival against his horrible leadership and management style.

We trusted each other explicitly. But we didn’t trust our boss further than we could throw him.

He had failed to build an environment that favored trust as a complete unit.

Thinking in terms of the six-step model, we were working among ourselves to find positive answers to make things work even though our boss was unable to guide and direct. We honored the position he occupied, but had no respect for him as a manager.

Wrapping It Up

These are just a few of the practical ways the team trust model works. I’ll be sharing more in weeks to come. In the meantime, if you have your own observations, comments or questions, leave them here in the comment section below.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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