When I say (or think) “I do not trust him?” What does that mean?

The authors of Group Genius, Extraordinary Groups,and Paradoxes of Group Life consider trust one of the most important conditions of high performance teams. But what does trust really mean?

When I say (or think) “I do not trust him?” What does that mean? Not sure, luckily we have tools and language to be more specific when we talk about trust. In the model advocated by the author of the Little Book of Trust, trust is broken into four categories: care, reliability, sincerity and competence as follows:

  • Care: I do not trust that you have my interest in mind. For example, you are looking out for your own interest instead of the interest of the group, your subordinates, or the company.
  • Sincerity: I do not trust that what you are saying is true or that you have good intentions.
  • Competence: I do not trust that you have the skills to deliver the task that you were asked to perform.
  • Reliability: I do not trust you to consistently deliver.

By being conscious of the different meanings of trust, we are in a better position to foster and repair trust in our organizations. For example, when we do not trust someone for lack of competence, we can look for instances where they have performed at superb levels; we can ask the person:”What do you need to perform at the desired level?” or even better we can ask them “When you performed at your highest level, what conditions were present, specifically what were you doing? Who was there? and so on so forth.” We can also try to provide training if all else fails.

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