Trust

This week’s Pearl of Leadership Wisdom is on…

Trust

“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you do not trust enough.” Frank Crane
Merit trust…
Keep your promises to everyone. Especially loved ones, bosses, subordinates and children. I said everyone. And if you break a promise for reasons out of your control; explain, explain, explain. And bend over backwards to make it up. Never let a broken promise go unremarked, unresolved. But they should be very rare. Keep the promises you make to yourself as well. Don’t disappoint yourself. It breeds laxity, and worse.
And in goal setting…
…don’t call them goals. Call them promises. Try it, it works.
Don’t lie…
Let’s assume you’re not a pathological liar. Let’s assume you lie for the right reasons –
To avoid embarrassment…
…so you’d rather lie than be embarrassed? This is a self-esteem issue. If you’ve done something to be embarrassed about and it’s got out the bag, you need to stand up in the glare and take it. Those around you will admire you, think more of you. Whereas to be caught lying, even over something trivial, especially over something trivial…
To avoid hurting others’ feelings…
…most people would rather know the truth. Most, but not all. Frankly, someone who asks for your opinion wanting only one answer has put you in a no-win position and deserved all that they are just about to get.
To escape punishment…
…this is cowardice. Twenty years ago, I was in the back of a police car, in Hexham, having been stopped for over-exuberant driving, on an empty dual carriageway, late on a Sunday night. I already had more than my fair share of points on my licence, and if I got any more I was taking the bus. Plus, I’d just accepted a new job in a new city, involving a lot of driving…
One of the policemen explained the technology that was used to ensnare me. I was familiar with it and said so. He turned to look at me and said:
“Are you a copper?”
Moment of truth time…
Say “yes” and maybe get let off? I’m not a bus person, I don’t have the time. I’ve got this fabulous new job…I’m on a mission and the rules don’t apply to me…I deserve this break, I am special, I really am!
It may seem trivial now. But it didn’t at the time.
I said:
“No, I’m not a copper”.
I took the bus, for 6 months. I took my medicine. It was foul, but due. And it did me good.
Above, I said “Let’s assume you lie for the right reasons”. Trick statement! There are no right reasons.
We’re all adults…
Now, I’m not suggesting that you lose the filter in your mind that stops everything you think from being turned immediately into speech or emails. You must be diplomatic, and diplomacy is not about lying. Diplomacy is about understanding the impact you have on others and acting accordingly to minimise any unpleasantness. Minimise, not eliminate. We’re all adults here.
Be trusting…
…give people the benefit of the doubt. I have done innumerable psychometric tests where I have been said to be overly trusting, or even naive. This is crap. I am neither. I would not let a stranger look after my children, my money, my home. I am not a fool. But I’ll give new people my time, my attention, my focus. I will assume they will respond appropriately. And if they don’t I have learned something…that they are fools.
But if I don’t trust them…I am the fool.
To not give trust…to be overly guarded, suspicious, sceptical, defensive…is to never dare to taste a strawberry because it might be sour.
So what to do…
To be trustworthy and to offer trust are things that we can control. We have dominion over ourselves. We can choose to be and do these things. However, there is no guarantee that people will trust us, or merit our trust in them. But that’s their loss.
Keep doing what you say and saying what you do; be consistent; be truthful; be transparent and open; offer trust to all; have faith in humanity.
You will taste many more sweet strawberries than sour.
Mark

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