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Trust is the Key

Published on 10/09/2015 by Bruno Kahne

Money...what gives a relatively small piece of paper 1,700 times its real worth? Trust. Trust in the system. Trust in others. In The Trusted Advisor Maister, Green & Galford suggest an interesting way to measure trust. According to them trust (T) is the sum of our credibility (C) plus our reliability (R) plus our intimacy divided by our self-orientation (S). In other words, people will trust you the more you work on yourself, the more you deliver, the more you are able to connect to others and the less you focus on yourself.


Expanding on their research, defining each part of this formula with three specific behaviors, it is easy to calculate your trust ratio. To find out, rate yourself on a scale of 1 (low) to 4 (high) for each of the following sets of questions: 

Who you are

  • How conscious are you of your beliefs and values? Do you live according to them? Are you conscious of your strengths and weaknesses? Do you regularly reinforce your strengths and tackle your weaknesses?
  • Do you improve continuously? Do you show humility in your areas of expertise? Do you regularly seek formal and informal feedback and act upon it? Do you learn something new every day?
  • Do you find ways to tell the truth? Are your thoughts, words and actions aligned? Are you honest with yourself and with others? When you don’t know or understand something, do you say it?

What you do

  • When things don't match your vision of the world, do you adapt your perception instead of changing reality? Do you confront issues before they turn into major problems? Do you address difficult situations with courage?
  • Do you do what you say? Do you regularly inform people on your actions? Do you clarify your expectations? Do you keep your commitments with your team, clients and suppliers? Do you avoid retaining information?
  • Do you set targets which are challenging but achievable? Do you structure your work around clear milestones? Do you have the reputation to always deliver on time, on cost and on quality?

How you connect to others

  • Do you open channels of communication? Do you favour transparency? Do you encourage people to express themselves? Do you discourage side conversations and avoid doing it yourself?
  • Do you show interest in people? Are you slow at judging them? Do you avoid criticism? Do you show empathy for people? Do you deal with issues face-to-face and in private? Do you frequently express gratitude?
  • Are you aware of your emotions? Do you express your negative emotions in a constructive way and help others to do so. Are people able to read your body language? Do you manage conflict as soon as possible?

You should now have 3 numbers for Credibility, 3 for Reliability and 3 for Intimacy. For the last part of the formula, please rate yourself again, inverting this time the scale: 4 is low, 1 is high.

S E L F - O R I E N T A T I ON
How much you focus on yourself or on others

  • Do you quickly trust others - your neighbors, your colleagues, your boss, your team, your company - or do you tend to suspect their motives?
  • Do you postpone your judgment and listen with an open mind to what people have to say? Do you ask real open questions?
  • Do you avoid bias? Do you give equal opportunities to all people irrespective of gender, age, culture, etc.? When you make a mistake, do you apologise?

Now, to get your Trust result, make the calculation (C+R+I)/S. Then start working on the behaviours with the lowest scores. And in a few months, assess yourself once again in order to compare your results and see if your trust ratio has improved.

Bruno Kahne

Bruno Kahne

Leadership Faculty

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