Trust is the Foundation

Trust is a foundational core value for our company and at the center of every interaction we have with stakeholders and each other. Without trust we don’t get far.

That’s why we asked you to participate in a group thought experiment using Brene Brown’s Anatomy of Trust and the BRAVING inventory. Many of you said the conversation made you think more critically about your role in building and maintaining trusting relationships. As such, we thought we would go a little deeper on the topic of trust.

Charles Feltman, leadership development expert and author of The Thin Book of Trust, describes trust as, “choosing to make something you value vulnerable to another person’s action.”

What does that mean exactly? Let’s take a walk down memory lane all the way to your elementary school playground. You have just shared a really big secret with a friend who pinky-swore not to tell a soul, yet before the recess bell rings everyone in your third grade class knows you have a crush on Alex Johnson. And just like that, you are in the principal’s office because you retaliated by putting a huge wad of bubble gum in your ex-friend’s hair. You were vulnerable and shared something you valued with someone who did not hold up their end of the bargain. Trust is broken. And you have to go home with a note from your teacher.

Researcher, author and leadership expert Brené Brown notes, “Trust isn’t built in grand gestures, but in the small moments when people treat what is important to you with care.” She goes on to say, “It’s important that we understand the complexity of trust and how to break it down so that we can identify why we do or don’t trust certain people. Instead of feeling stupid or naive for trusting someone when they turned out to be untrustworthy, we can identify what exactly went wrong.”

Charles Feltman’s four assessments – sincerity, reliability, competence and care – reinforce this idea. Together they define a person’s trustworthiness.

  • Sincerity: you are honest, you say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Reliability: you honor the commitments you make and keep your promises.
  • Competence: you are capable; you have the capacity, skill, knowledge and resources to do what you say you will do.
  • Care: you have the other person’s interests in mind; it’s not all about you.

Trust and trustworthiness form a perfect circle of reciprocity. In order for us to trust each other, we have to demonstrate our own trustworthiness.