The Most Effective Competitive Advantage

by Joe on October 11, 2009

I’d like to think that most of you are people who pour their hearts into all that you do. If I could be so bold, I’d classify myself right there beside you. Its people like us who spend a majority of our day working to improve the world around us. My recent efforts have lead me to question just what part of my business would be the most effective competitive advantage.

My answer:  The ability for an organization to build and maintain trust.

It leads to effectiveness, it creates freedom for innovation, it enables relationships to flourish – it is the basis for building solid businesses.

Kotter and Cohen, authors of The Heart of Change, point to trust as a foundation for a team to see, feel and execute change.  Also, one of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team is the absence of trust. Even though many people see it as foundational, it seems as though trust slips away from us through the inevitabilities of business life:  layoffs, restructuring, lack of funding, poor investments, poor hires, there are too many to name.

At the Catalyst Conference, Andy Stanley presented about trust as a foundation of organizational culture.  He provided a functional way for how you and I can begin to establish trust in our organizations.  I reproduce them here so you won’t miss out on these great ways to lead others to establish trust:

“To develop a culture of trust, leaders must be trustworthy. Worthy of trust does not mean perfect. It means when I create a gap where your expectations don’t line up with the experience I give you, I talk to you about it.

5 Essential Commitments of Trust

  1. I will believe the best.
  2. When other people assume the worst about you, I will come to your defense.
  3. If what I experience begins to erode my trust, I will come directly to you to talk about it.
  4. When I am convinced I will not be able to deliver on a promise, I will come to you ahead of time.
  5. When you confront me about the gaps I’ve created, I will tell you the truth.

The gaps are the opportunities… the gaps are the litmus test… for you to choose what culture you will have.

Questions to Ask

  1. Are there people in your organization you have a hard time trusting.
  2. Is it your issue or is it theirs? (if you have never chosen to trust it is still your issue)
  3. What can you do about your part?
  4. What do you need to address with them about their part?
  5. Who do you sense having a difficult time trusting you?
  6. Why?
  7. What can you do about it?

If you choose to trust, you will create an organization that is more nimble and effective.”

Its not easy to create this trust, but it sure does challenge me and push me to the next level.  I’ll be asking  myself these questions to become more intentional about building trust.  What do you do to develop trust in your relationships?  Buy people coffee?  Take them to the doctor when they need their wisdom teeth pulled?

I’d love to hear how you intentionally build trust into your relationships, leave a comment and lets get the ideas flowing.

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