The Need for Trust

Before someone can thrive, they must survive.  Folks know that being a member of a group provides them with additional security.  At the same time, they know that people around them may be the biggest threat to their survival.

Therefore, people want to build trust with their co-workers and their Manager.  Trust, to the individual, means “I know you will not stab me in the back.  And the more folks around me that I can trust , the safer I am.”

So relationships matter.  If someone doesn’t know you, then you are by definition generally untrustworthy.

People use artifacts of credibility (such as credentials, past associations, etc), stories from others, and observable experience as evidence of the degree of trust that can be placed in you.  But the most important evidence of trust is earned through your behavior.  If they don’t have a relationship with you, how can they have any personal evidence of trust in you?

Let’s remember that people are not created equally, and that there is a distribution of people in a bell-curve along the continuum of paranoid to blindly trusting.  Some people will never have trust in you while others are so trusting that they can be exploited easily—but most people are a little bit trusting and a little bit paranoid.

All but the most socially retarded will build a community with someone by exerting some effort to build relationships; they know it is essential.  If folks cannot build a relationship with Management, or the “in-crowd “that supports management, then they will seek to build a relationship with others, and possibly create an “out-crowd.”  Sometimes this is done because people have ingrained habits of being outsiders.  They are comfortable in that role, and like to rebel.  Perhaps they have not matured to manage that emotion.

But the only problem with being the out-crowd is that its members are cynics. Cynics spread a contagion of bad-attitude that undermines management.  It is better to avoid that eventuality by building a community around you.

It is entirely part of human nature to seek out the most powerful people and suck up to them and ride their coattails.  If you allow there to be an “opposition party,” people will look to the most likely leader, and build a relationships with him/her, which will complicate your mission unnecessarily.  Unfortunately, this distraction creates all sorts of dissent and dis-respect.  Just look at the state of U.S. two-party politics…

A good Leader (eyes wide open) will work hard at building relationships, team spirit, and community within the work-group or business unit because once that proper community is in place, people will tend to be self-referencing with the proper values, rather than self-referencing with the wrong values.  A good Leader makes sure that his community is open for new influences, and does not limit membership for only those who wish to get on-board.  A smart leader goes and recruits members from the “out-crowd” and makes them part of the in-crowd by defining the “out-crowd” as the competition of the marketplace.

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