Sunday, November 13, 2005

Trust: A Leader's Best Kept Secret

(Part One of a multi part series)

Trust is elusive. You definitely know when you have it and most definitely know when you do not. But, if you have ever tried to define it to others, or done research to find a "true" definition of trust, you probably found that there are as many definitions as there are great leaders or writers. In this short series we are going to examine one definition of trust and how leaders earn and receive trust from others.

Trust forms the foundation for effective communication, employee retention, employee motivation and contribution of their discretionary energy which is the "extra effort" that people voluntarily invest in their workplace. When there is trust within this relationship or organization, goals and objectives, and almost everything else, is easier to achieve.

Dr. Duane C. Tway, Jr. wrote, in his 1993 book, A Construct of Trust, saying:

"There exists today, no practical construct of Trust that allows us to design and implement organizational interventions to significantly increase trust levels between people. We all think we know what Trust is from our own experience, but we don't know much about how to improve it. Why? I believe it is because we have been taught to look at Trust as if it were a single entity."

He goes on further to define trust as:

"..the state of readiness for unguarded interaction with someone or something."

Tway developed a model of trust that includes three components. He calls the model a "construct" because it is "constructed" of these three components which include:
  • "... the capacity for trusting,
  • the perception of competence,
  • and the perception of intentions."

If you think about trust using these three components it will make it much easier to understand its dynamic and use within the workforce. The capacity for trusting really means that the entire collection of your total life experiences will have developed your current capacity and willingness to risk trusting others.

The perception of competence is a compilation of your perception of your ability and the ability of others with whom you work to perform competently at whatever is needed in your current situation.

The perception of intentions, as defined by Tway, is comprised of your perception that the actions, words, direction, goals or decisions of yourself, and/or the organization, are motivated by mutually-serving rather than self-serving intentions.

In future postings we will explore why trust is critical to a healthy organization, the critical role that a supervisor or leader play in building trust and the specific steps that can be taken to accomplish this successfully.

Copyright M. A. Webb, 2005. All Rights Reserved

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1 comment:

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