Can you imagine a world without Trust?
In this imaginary the simplest actions would be impossible: we would never get into a Uber, we would not believe in medical diagnosis, we would probably still accept the geocentric theory, not giving scope for discoveries such as heliocentrism. Indeed, we might not even believe the scientific processes we don’t see, like breathing oxygen.
Society exists based on trust in this concept that allows people to live and work together, feel safe and belong to groups. Trust is hard to define, yet we know almost instantly when we lose it. When one trusts, one allows one to feel the enthusiasm of being part of a relationship in which there are a shared purpose and a willingness of healthy dependence.
So, what is Trust? And what is being Trustfull?
Is that a belief, an expectation, or an emotion?
Is that a kind of trustworthy a will, and can we simply decide to act as if we have trust, or have not to trust?
I have been reflecting, for a long time, on that: “What is Trust?”
In my vision, trust has an intrinsic and instrumental, almost common-sense value for social life and for cooperation, but it always carries the risk of being unjustified. In addition, it does not always work in the same way.
Trust is grounded almost irrationally, as it is based on a feeling and emotion that we “can” trust. That is why we contribute to this increase with presence, dedication, work, and sincere and genuine feedback. However, when it is lost, it is common for people not to feel secure in sharing that loss with those who can return it. This individual nature, of a shared feeling, can be problematic for organizations because it is not always quick to perceive something that is not transmitted and this leaves room for it to become unresolvable. Because, paradoxically, it must continue to exist (some, even to a lesser extent) confidence in order to discuss its absence.
Trust is often associated with leadership, although, not taken for granted. Or, at least, not in the normally presented order. Confidence precedes leadership, not vice versa. Hence come the participation and loyalty of a team in a shared sense of purpose. Trust is a natural response to the qualities of individuals, groups or organizations such as transparency, competence, sincerity, justice, and congruence. Qualities, too, inseparable from a leader. Trust must be recognized as a complex and multidimensional concept, as well as whether one must perceive its operation both vertically and horizontally. Despite the diversity of approaches, there are common foundations: a trusted person or organization is one to whom we recognize integrity, capacity, virtue, and genuineness.
This kind of sense of trust, as the primary element of a strong organizational structure, grows when energy is dispersed among all those who contribute to its functioning and not focused solely on itself or on leadership. When it is associated with the organizational’s leaders potentiates a growth of the organization, nevertheless when it is scanty… then gives place to the fragmentation, conflicts and is even precedent of the employees’ turnover.
Every single day, many business leaders are reminded that this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous ‘new world’ (aka ‘VUCA world’) moves faster than the answer they can provide. Mutations are unpredictable and generate, rather than acceleration, only transformation. So, in that VUCA World, the underlying element of the leader-employee relationship is the relationship of trust, acting in a bidirectional and interdependent way. The employee expects the leader to lead you in the right direction, promoting their development, empowering them and supporting their self-motivation on the path to success. The leader expects the employee’s professional commitment, the application of the teachings transmitted and their involvement in the processes, monitoring results and suggesting improvements.
The magnitude and speed at which they happen, cause that the employees of the organizations recurrently look for sources of safety and example. Thus, in order to attest to a trustworthy and common feeling, a ‘purpose’ must have to be established and grounded. The leaders must have to know how to build a collective understanding of the primary goals and moral values present and future advocated by leadership. Only this win-win relationship allows the mutual growth of trust – both in the top-down and bottom-up perspectives – based on three factors: (1) the permanent flow of sincere and selfless feedback; (2) individual and team evolution; (3) and, finally, corporate productivity and organizational development.
Trust takes a long time to build, and it can be damaged in a few moments! In order to build as a source of security, both individually and collectively, it is fundamental to establish what is expected of each stakeholder. And this is defined corporately, creating a sense of Organizational Moral Intelligence. Staying truthful to this principle is probably the biggest challenge facing nowadays for organizations… and to the biggest and truthful leaders!