UNLOCK TRUST: Five Ways to Raise the Trust Level and Improve Performance


Why is it a “must” to UNLOCK TRUST? When the trust level is high, you tend to get high-performance behaviors — creativity, collaboration, and aligned execution.

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“Five Ways to Raise the Trust Level”

Why It’s  a “Must” to Raise the Trust Level

The trust level affects behavior, which is a key predictor of performance.

When the trust level is at rock bottom, you tend to see conscious sabotage or passive-aggressive behavior. If the mistrust is modest, you tend to get compliant or cautious behavior.

On the other hand, when the trust level is high, you tend to get high-performance behaviors — creativity, collaboration, aligned execution — that lead to high-velocity results. When trust is strong, people tend to do their best work and support the group goals.

High trust levels also mean lower costs. In his Harvard Business Review article. “The High Cost of Lost Trust,” Tony Simons reported the results of a survey of more than 6,500 employees at 76 U.S. and Canadian Holiday Inn hotels. The trust effect was stunning.

“Hotels where employees strongly believed their managers followed through on promises and demonstrated the values they preached were substantially more profitable than those whose managers scored average or lower. So strong was the link, in fact, that a one-eighth point improvement in a hotel’s score on the five-point scale could be expected to increase the hotel’s profitability by 2.5% of revenues — in this study, that translates to a profit increase of more than $250,000 per year per hotel. No other single aspect of manager behavior that we measured had as large an impact on profits.”

UNLOCK TRUST_Five Ways to Raise the Trust Level_LelandRussell.com

Monitoring the Trust Level: MISTRUST SIGNALS

How do you know when the trust level is low. Think about the historic level of distrust in the United States today. How many of these mistrust signals do you see?

  • suspicion and accusations
  • lip service and a failure to act together to solve common challenges
  • defensiveness and blaming others
  • secrecy and covert actions.

All of these behaviors magnify mistrust.

Then there are the causes of mistrust that are rooted in the realities of the New Normal. Rapid change means surprises and unpredictability, and an uncertainty about the intentions of others. It’s not surprising that people have a fear of losing something important and lack of a sense of safety and security.

How to Raise the Trust Level: LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS

We can’t change the realities of the new normal but leaders can behave in ways that raise the Trust Level. Let’s look at three key leadership behaviors:

Competency — Peter Drucker has said that “leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” People must first believe that you have the necessary skills judgment and influence to lead. But that’s not enough. You must live up to the expectations and consistently deliver on your commitments.

Transparency — Behave in ways that make it easy for others to see what’s taking place. For example, in decision making:

  • Be clear about the process. Make sure that everyone who will be affected understands how you’re going about making a decision.
  • Have a diversity of input sources; engage the people who have the knowledge needed for smart decision and create feedback loops.
  • Continuously communicate. Tell people exactly where you are in the process and your current thinking. This minimizes the surprises that breed mistrust.

Character — Having solid standards of right and wrong and continuously striving to live up to those standards. Frances Heseltine a leader with impeccable character offers this advice.

  • Be careful of your thoughts or your thoughts become your words.
  • Be careful of your words for your words become your actions.
  • Be careful of your actions or your actions become your habits
  • Be careful of your habits for your habits become your character.

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Raising the Trust Level: FIVE THINGS TO REMEMBER

  1. The trust level affects behavior and performance results.
  2. Others must believe you can perform and you must deliver.
  3. There are recognizable signals and predictable causes of mistrust
  4. Words, actions, and habits shape a person’s character.
  5. When it’s easy to see what’s taking place there’s greater trust.

Raising the Trust Level: FIVE ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE

  • Consistently deliver on your commitments.
  • Without being boastful showcase what you know.
  • Clarify your standards and practice living up to them.
  • Be transparent with plans and decisions.
  • When trust is lost quickly take action to restore it.

The bottom line on trust is this:

A high trust level is a prerequisite for the high-performance behaviors that lead to high-velocity results.

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About Leland Russell

Leland Russell is the co-author of Winning In FastTime®, a highly-acclaimed book about leading strategic action. He delivers the best ways to strive and thrive in the New Normal, serving clients as a Strategic Advisor and Leadership Coach. GEO Group Strategic Services, the consulting firm Leland founded in 1991, has a stellar track record with Fortune 500 organizations, mid-size firms, and non-profits. GEO"s typical clients are leaders and mission-critical teams.

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