Trust is a key element in business and in business relationships. For leaders in business, understanding the relationship between love and trust will help us to accelerate the power of trust in our lives and our organizations.
High trust relationships take time to build but once these are in place things can move very quickly. When we are coming from a loving place, when we have a high LQ, trust can actually be developed much more quickly because our intent, who we are, can be felt and trusted.
Trust is one of the most elusive qualities of our time and yet it is one of the most crucial. Stephen R. Covey said that “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
A Business Case for Trust
Years later his eldest son, Stephen M.R. Covey would go on to write and publish one of the most influential books on trust as it pertains to relationships in an organizational setting. Covey is the CEO of CoveyLink Worldwide and the author of several books including The Speed of Trust and Smart Trust, in which he shows that trust is a critical leadership competency. He points out that trust can be learned, measured and quantified and discusses the relationship between the speed of execution and trust.
Covey suggests that when trust is high, speed goes up and cost comes down but the inverse is also true. When trust is low, things take far longer to come together and at far greater cost. Covey calls trust an economic driver not merely a social value. In a 2009 TED Talk he says “The presence or absence of trust will change the trajectory of every activity we are engaged in.”
Most importantly Covey asserts that in the matter of trust, leaders go first. In order to earn trust, you will need to extend trust, which leads to the question how do I effectively extend trust to those around me? In his book Covey discusses ways in-which trust can be improved between leadership and employees, naming credibility and behavior as the two most important facets of trust.
At the end of this 2016 video Covey quotes Albert Schweitzer, “in everybody’s life, at some time our inner fire goes out, it is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people that rekindle the inner spirit.” He continues “when we extend trust to another person we rekindle the inner spirit, both theirs and ours and in so doing we can also produce an extraordinary dividend.”
When we extend trust to others, there can be a rekindling of the inner spirit.
We see the extension of trust as an expression of love. Love supports trust being given and trust being given is love in action.
High LQ individuals often create more profitable, more trusting relationships and can therefore build more productive business relationships.
They can execute more quickly. In business, the faster we can execute new projects or get new products to market the more successful we will be. Thus, high LQ leaders are typically going to have greater success in business.
One of the keys to successful execution is delegation, and this is an area in which many business leaders have difficulty.
Delegation as a Benefit of Trust
One of the areas in which business owners need to demonstrate more trust, but also lack trust, is having employees or team members take over responsibilities or operate independently. Fear of delegation is one of the areas which holds a business owner back. There is a fear that things won’t get done right or properly or won’t get done to our level of perfection. This lack of trust can be rooted in fear, the fear of making a mistake and of things needing to be perfect. Needing to be perfect is an avoidance of the fear of making mistakes and really a reflection of a lack of love.
When we increase our LQ, when we deeply love ourselves, the tendency to operate from a place of fear diminishes. The tendency to have things to be perfect diminishes thus eliminating these tendencies that would hold an entrepreneur, a business owner or a leader back from delegating and trusting their team members to get the job done.
Once we have loved ourselves more deeply, we can delegate more effectively.
How Much Trust to Extend and How Soon
The best way to learn if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
There are some people that operate from a place of “I’m not going to give you any trust until you’ve earned it” and then the other extreme is “I trust you wholly and completely until you have shown me otherwise”.
I think there is a healthy middle road that can be taken. In order for relationships to function, there has to be a certain base level of trust and of course it’s all contextual depending on what the person’s role in your life is. In a business setting if it’s hiring for a certain position, we do our due diligence and we check references. We conduct interviews and establish a base level of trust.
A good example might be the hiring of a financial controller for your business. In order for them to do their job we may have to give them access to our bank accounts and our books. While it is really important to vet them thoroughly upfront, some level of trust has to be extended for them to do their job.
Now we may wait three months or six months before we actually add them on to our bank accounts because that’s a higher risk. That would be something where we would require them to prove themselves first. We would first see how they work and get a feel for them before we extend a higher level of trust.
If we just started off with no trust that person would not be able to do their job, similarly if we started off by giving someone a blank check (no pun intended) on trust, well then we might be setting ourselves up to be taken advantage of. When trust is extended too quickly, without boundaries it can be a reflection of a lack of self-love or low LQ. In the same way that not trusting enough or not trusting at all, blind trust can be a reflection of unhealed wounds of the past which need love to heal.
After we have established a regular self love practice and worked at healing issues of low trust, it may be good to establish a practice of asking ourselves if our hesitation in extending trust to a certain individual is well-founded. Check in with your inner guidance to see what the origin of your mistrust may be.
Now, let’s take a closer look at organizational trust, and how trust within an organization impacts the CEO’s capacity to act.
Organizational Trust and Action
In August 2013, Berkshire Hathaway, bought a company called Precision Castparts, one of their largest acquisitions. In an interview, Warren Buffet was asked whether he had spent a year studying the company given the cost of the deal ($37.2 billion). His response was “No.” He met Precision’s CEO, Mark Donegan, only a month before the deal was announced, and within 30 minutes of speaking with him he knew that he was interested. He instructed his team to make a bid, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Berkshire Hathaway is an example of an organization with high trust. Warren Buffet trusts his employees and they trust him. This enables him to make decisions on the fly, to give his word and to know that a deal will be executed in the manner in-which he expects. Not many organizations operate this seamlessly. Many wish to do so, and even more seek to put in place policies, procedures, controls, checks and balances to ensure that people will do what they are meant to do. While these measures are important, operating exclusively in this “management mode” is outdated.
The work of Professor James Davis and his colleagues supports the integration of trust as a function of leadership. Davis’s Integrative Model of Organizational Trust lists three factors which drive trust, namely ability, benevolence and integrity. His study shows that when a leader displays these attributes, people are more likely to trust him/her and when the outcome of the trust based transactions are positive the level of trust in the relationship is improved.
Love supports and enables trust.
When we take a loving approach, we display vulnerability and transparency which are attributes of someone who has a high LQ, it is much easier to establish trust. We then know the other person’s intent and these higher levels of trust leads to higher, more productive and more profitable business relationships.
Trust is therefore essential for taking action and love is the secret ingredient that supports and enables trust.
We have discussed the importance of trust in business relationships and listed what are considered qualities of trustworthiness. We have also shown how consistently demonstrating these qualities creates a dynamic and virtuous trust building cycle. Next we will show that forgiveness is a quality which sets good leaders apart from great leaders.
Trust and Forgiveness are Inseparable
Virgin CEO, Richard Branson is a well known example of a forgiving boss who has successfully created a positive corporate culture. He has most notably given second chances to executives who have stolen from him, forgiven his first business partner for trying to oust him from a joint venture, and he has re-established good relations with a competitor who took him to court. He regrets none of these decisions as they ended up making him a great deal of money and created strong and lasting partnerships.
We have all, from time to time, been let down by colleagues, bosses, employees, suppliers and service providers. Holding on to grudges can be really unhealthy, creating a toxic environment in our own bodies and within an organization.
Studies show that harbouring ill feelings for past wrongs, dwelling on negative emotions and playing these scenes over and over in our minds like a bad movie reel, can be detrimental to our health. It creates stress in our bodies, affects blood pressure and contributes to an irregular heart rhythm. This is one reason why some people feel exhausted all the time, their energy is being expended on negative emotions so naturally motivation is low.
In his paper, The Art Of Forgiveness: Differentiating Transformational Leaders, Manfred Kets De Vries, who is a Professor of leadership development at Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) aka European Institute of Business Administration, makes a strong case for forgiveness as a business tool. In an interview discussing his paper, he makes a few great points asserting that “The ultimate indicator of a great company is when you can say I would like my family and friends to work there. If you have such a culture that means people recommend the organization to others so there is less cost for headhunters, people work harder because they like the place where they work and also different stakeholders like the continuity in the organization… when there is high turnover it is because there is no trust and no forgiveness.”
Anne Böckler-Raettig, an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Psychology at Würzburg University identifies forgiveness as the most important ingredient in establishing long term trust-based relationships. She emphasises perspective taking as a crucial skill in fostering a forgiving spirit. When we put ourselves in another persons shoes, we see things from their perspective and this can help us to let go of negative feelings.
Letting go of these negative emotions helps us to re-direct energy towards positive endeavours. When a leader displays forgiveness he sets the tone, creating a culture of forgiveness within the organization and when employees at all levels take on this approach, it creates the type of environments, which are high in synergy and paves the way for powerful collaboration.
When we actively love ourselves the ability to forgive becomes much more accessible. Love also empowers our ability to trust deeply and to re-establish trust when it has been lost.
Let’s take a look at how re-establishing trust within our own inner-self can help us to re-establish trust in our relationships with others.
Re-establishing Trust Internally to Manifest Trust Externally
When we don’t trust ourselves we’re naturally not going to be trusting of others. Our relationship with ourselves is so important because we tend to treat others the way we treat ourselves. When there is a lack of trust or when there is a violation of trust or when we haven’t been kind or loving to ourselves, we typically have the tendency to treat others the same way.
I personally feel that I used to be really harsh on my inner self, my inner child so I used to be really harsh and driving on the people that worked for me. As I became more compassionate toward myself I was able to see how I became more compassionate in the way I managed other people.
In the relationship with my inner child trust has been re-established. There was definitely trust that was lost and that trust had to be rebuilt. There was trust that was lost around how I treated myself. I treated myself in a very harsh way and as I was rebuilding this relationship with my inner child, there was fear that I would treat myself harshly again.
If we have been abusive or neglectful towards our inner child, and this is often the case, when we have not had an active relationship with our inner child, then that trust needs to be re-established.
Saying things like “I will always be there for you” or “I won’t leave you alone again” to your inner child are important in re-establishing inner trust. You can also re-establish trust with yourself in the way that you treat yourself and the promises that you make to your inner-child. But then it’s actually doing those things that makes the difference. It’s like a child in your life if you tell them one thing and do something else that’s going to violate that trust. When there has been very deep wounding you need to be sensitive to loving your inner child through that and really work at rebuilding that trust in a place of love.This is probably the most sacred place to develop trust and integrity, this relationship with your inner child, because your inner child wants to feel safe, loved and acknowledged, and when these needs are met, it is that much easier to be more trusting.
Just as a trusting relationship with our inner child is important, being able to trust our inner guidance or intuition can be very powerful.
Tapping into Your Intuition
Intuition is a powerful skill to be developed and can certainly play a role in helping us to determine when to extend trust and when to withhold it. Yet, If we haven’t learned to trust our own intuition or have lost faith in trusting our intuition this can massively hold us back from using this incredible human gift. This is another area in which internal trust must be firmly established to pave the way for external trust.
I have come across intuitive people that have no grounding in reality and just play on the spiritual side with no real basis in logic. Then there are people that are just rooted in logic but they get struck in the mind and don’t have access to their hearts or intuition. They have trouble accessing and trusting their intuition because one’s intuition is not based in logic or the mind. Having both skill sets, a logical left brain thinking mind along with an intuitive and creative mind and approach are both essential. What empowers our ability to take action on our intuition is trust.
It was Lao Tzu who said “He who does not trust enough will not be trusted”. A lack of internal trust will be reflected externally. Learning to love yourself and develop a relationship with your inner child will help you heal the wounds of your past or to develop internal and external trust, born of healthy self love. When you develop your LQ, you will notice your relationships change for the better, they will get deeper and stronger, you will trust more easily, know when to listen to your intuition and be a more decisive leader.
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Watch this space for regular articles about LQ and its many applications.