Every organization is faced with building trust among co-workers, teams, customers and vendors. But some people and companies build trust more quickly and effectively than others.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger/Folkman, a leadership development consultancy in Orem, Utah, and Joseph Folkman, president of Zenger/Folkman, discussed a recent leadership study they conducted.
In February 2019, they studied data from 360 assessments of 87,000 leaders and identified three pillars that form the foundation for trust.
The first pillar is personal relationships. Zenger and Folkman state a person instills trust by:
The second pillar is exercising good judgment. A leader who builds trust easily probably has valid ideas and opinions; is frequently asked his or her opinions; has knowledge and expertise that make an important contribution to achieving results; and anticipates and responds quickly to problems.
Consistency is the third pillar. According to Zenger and Folkman, a leader will be rated high in trust by being a good role model, honoring commitments and keeping promises, and being willing to exceed expectations.
But are all three pillars equally important to building trust?
“[Although] our analysis showed that inconsistency does have a negative impact (trust went down 17 points), it was relationships that had the most substantial impact,” the authors explain. “When relationships were low and both judgment and consistency were high, trust went down 33 points. This may be because many leaders are seen as occasionally inconsistent. We all intend to do things that don’t get done, but once a relationship is damaged or if it was never formed in the first place, it’s difficult for people to trust.”
A team without trust is just a group of individuals working together never reaching full potential. But when leaders work to build trust, they develop customer confidence and teams that can achieve meaningful goals.