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How to Form Trust

In our last post, we built the case for trust as a vital component of a successful business. But before we tell you how to analyze your organization’s trust levels, we need to first come up with a working definition of trust.

Here at Wildsparq, we define trust as such:

Trust: n: confidence in another person’s intent, ability, and execution.

How to Form Trust

Intent. Ability. Execution. 

Three distinct but ultimately inseparable components show us how to form trust.

However, we don’t expect you to take that simple definition and run with it. In this post, we’ll break down each component to better round out our definition. And it all starts with intent.

Coming to grips with “intent”

Trust starts with intent. It’s the foundation upon which the other components of trust are built. Intent involves judging the motivations of others while they judge your own. When examining intent, you’re asking “Does this person have my best interests at heart?” A host of other questions follow:

  • Do they really want what’s best for everyone involved?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • What is their agenda here?
  • Do they have a track record I can trust?
  • Do they really care about me?

Others will ask these same questions of you, using your track record and their belief that you do or do not care about them to formulate their answers.

Every day, people are judging your intent. Your friends, family members, and colleagues are all having this internal dialogue concerning your intent, whether they’re aware of it or not. So think about that for a moment. What do you think their conclusions are?

Ability: Can You Act on Intent?

With intent serving as the foundation of trust, ability takes the next step in forming a relational trust. Ability answers the question “Can you do what the job requires?” It’s putting boots to the ground, where the intent is simply planning the path.

To illustrate, imagine this scenario. You’re visiting with your family. When you go to leave, your car breaks down. It seems like it’s related to the carburetor Your brother, who has never serviced a car in his life, offers to lend a hand. Now, your brother would do anything for you, but he barely knows how to add windshield fluid. So while his intent is good, you doubt his ability. Therefore, you can’t trust him to help.

In itself, this isn’t an issue. A key part of life is learning your strengths and weaknesses and adjusting accordingly. When it does become an issue is when your brother insists on fixing the carburetor, and two weeks later he has made zero progress. This not only erodes any existing trust but also damages the foundation for trust in the future.

With this example in mind, ask yourself this question: are you failing to fix carburetors in the workplace? If so, a pattern of over-promising and under-delivering can seriously damage your credibility. If you position yourself as having abilities you don’t actually possess, people notice. And you will lose trust and credibility as a result.

It All Comes Down to Execution

To finalize the discussion on how to form trust, let’s take a look at execution, the third and final piece of the puzzle. Simply put, execution is whether or not you get the job done. To illustrate, picture an apple tree in Washington.

Each year, Washington produces more apples than any other state. And the apple tree in our example has received plenty of rain and sunshine, so it’s primed to grow. The soil it rests in is incredibly nutrient-rich. But at harvest time, you find zero apples hanging from the tree’s limbs. Its entire intent is to grow apples; it was given everything needed to produce, but it didn’t.

We can all name a person in the office just like this apple tree. They have the raw characteristics to be a great employee. They’re likable, believable, intelligent, and buy into the company’s mission. But there’s no follow-through. And if someone isn’t producing, you quickly learn not to trust him/her. So even though the best intentions and with ability intact, a lack of execution dissolves any trust that’s formed.

The Next Step: Measuring Your Organization’s Trust Levels

Hopefully, you’re walking away from this post with a more thorough understanding of how to form trust. After all, if you’re planning to improve, you must first understand. Even then, you have to have a grasp on what obstacles you’re facing before you can take action to improve. So in our third post, we’ll talk about ways to gauge the health of trust within your organization. Check back soon for the next entry.

Wildsparq is a web-based leadership development platform that has quickly become the go-to way for companies — from small businesses to large corporations — to invest in developing leaders. Developed by the recruiting and leadership development experts at FireSeeds in Birmingham, Alabama, Wildsparq is an indispensable tool for companies that are serious about building their culture.