We’ve been exploring Trust recently with a variety of leaders from across a number of business sectors. From Finance to Healthcare; Automotive to Education; and what emerges is fascinating and thought provoking.
Begin a conversation by prefacing it’s about Trust, and almost always people will then very consciously present their most trust-worthy self to the workshop and the people around them. The very mention of the word makes people sit up a little straighter in their seats; listen more attentively to others; exhibit greater empathy and think more about how they are being perceived by others and the impact they are having.
However, start the day with an exercise that can easily be misinterpreted as a competition rather than what it really is – collaboration, and something else happens altogether. With no prior mention of ‘Trust’ and therefore no heightened awareness to pay attention to it (or what happens when it’s broken) and the dynamics can and almost always do, shift to one of “I win, you lose”.
That’s not to say that everyone pursues this strategy. Some work very hard to signal their desire to be mutual, to adhere to being fair and equitable; even when round after round they are being undermined by others intent on purely winning (and even breaking promises that they have just committed to)
In a heartbeat Trust is replaced by suspicion and the atmosphere changes completely.
What emerges from this experience is a debate and a dynamic that takes some time to unpick and explore. What is really interesting to observe however is how those people who either reneged on an agreement or sought to win at any cost and destroy the others, then justify their own behaviour in spite of the overwhelming feedback they receive about its impact upon Trust.
“It’s just a game”, “It’s what we need to do to win tenders”, “It’s what suppliers do to us, so why not?”, “You know I always want to win”…being just a few of the get-out-of-jail cards that get played.
But Trust is not a game, and the impact of destroying it reaches far beyond an exercise involving choices of colour. Lack of Trust within an organisation reduces the speed at which it develops, and performs. It increases costs, and can reduce great strategy to worthy words that never get to leave a presentation to be implemented. It undermines teams and individuals.
As Mahatma Gandhi observed, “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything they do becomes tainted”
We recommend that you think long and hard before putting such an extraordinary entity in jeopardy…either for yourself or for others.
Everything boils down to Trust!