This is a blog post that kept saying “Write me!!” It’s all about trust and the ingredients it takes to build trust.
Third time’s a charm
The first time I heard it was in an interview with a client. They made one change that they thought was small. Within the month, revenue was down by 25%. When I probed, the response was “We lost people’s trust.”
The second time was an all-hands meeting of a large organization rolling out a major change initiative. The senior leader said that the board had lost the trust of the rank and file, leading to a double digit increase in personnel attrition.
Then came the third – news featuring government executives elicited commentary about loss of trust. If you haven’t heard this issue bubbling up, you haven’t been watching the news lately.
At that point, I knew I had to finish my thoughts on this blog post.
Warren Bennis’ “Five C’s” of trust
Leadership guru Warren Bennis said “Trust is the emotional glue of all organizations”. In order to gain followers’ trust, leaders should master the 5 Cs- competence, constancy, caring, congruity, and candor. I used that rubric to teach the importance of trust since I read Bennis’ book.
Are the “building blocks” of trust really that simple?
Bennis’ “Five C’s” resonated with me because they seem so simple. They’re simple – and simply lacking in many people who find themselves in leadership positions.
Competence. The leader has to be capable, skilled, and able to make up his or her own mind. That last part is what is often lacking in many leaders who have been promoted because of competence.
Constancy. Leaders must always adapt to the circumstances but their principles and standards of behavior should have a constancy that people can rely on.
Caring. The leader should be caring. Caring is compassion, empathy, and the capacity to understand what other people are feeling. I had a boss who won my unswerving loyalty when he sought me out during my own hard time and said “I’ll make it work for you.”
Candor. Candor is about being truthful and speaking up when things are not right. For true leaders, there’s no room for “go along to get along” when things aren’t right.
Character. Leaders should have discipline and integrity. They should be able to face adversity and to learn and grow in good times and bad. Every leader I’ve ever known has extracted many of their most valuable lessons in the hard times.
Are there only 5?
The more I think about it the more I’m convinced there are more than five “c’s” to trust. You may see them as components on Bennis’ original 5. Here are the ones I think might be added.
Consistency. This might be a component of “constancy” but I think it’s more. Being able to articulate in a memorable way the principles underlying your decisions is important.
Chronology. Doing the right thing over the long haul is important. One or two good decisions don’t make a leader. A career of many sound ones does.
Confidence. Some call this “the theater of command” – acting with confidence when the volatility and uncertainty of the situation work against it can inspire others to follow.
Candor. Bad news doesn’t get better with time. A leader who can deliver the unvarnished truth is one that often inspires confidence in difficult times. Whistling past the graveyard is not a useful strategy for leaders.
Congruity. Leaders who feel comfortable in their own skin can both talk the talk AND walk the talk. This may be a component of consistency, but (again) I think it’s more.
Now it’s your turn.
What would you add to Bennis’ list of trust factors?