There's something pretty cool about hosting this carnival on Mardi Gras...the concluding day of perhaps the most well-known carnival of all!
And it is remarkable that Mardi Gras goes on despite the destruction unleashed from Hurricane Katrina. I'd like to take pause and appreciate the spirit of trust by New Orleanians that Mardi Gras would (unquestionably, if you ask them) go on. And trust that New Orleans would rebound and rebuild.
This progress despite political strife, despite skepticism of others, and even somewhat despite reason (hey, I hate to say it, but we all know another storm could come).
Isn't this an amazing illustration of the sheer power of trust in what will be, and trust's sister, faith, in the ability to achieve/be/do.
On to the winning posts (there were so many to choose from!) for this month's carnival!
EARN “TRUSTED ADVISOR” STATUS
A regular teacher of lively and controversial ethics courses around the USA (a typically dull continuing ed. requirement for CPAs) Ron Baker repeatedly challenges professionals to reconsider how they view “trust” in their profession. In his post “Is Being a Trusted Advisor Enough?” he says “many firm leaders seem to believe that trust is a core competency of their profession.” He says it’s not. Sure, it’s required, but as a table stake like technical competency.
He adds: “…it is a mistake for any firm to advertise or market its trustworthiness.” That so many firms self-proclaim “trusted advisor” status (certainly a worthy aspiration which Charles Green, David Maister and Robert Galford described in their book of the same name) is an unfortunate and ironic side effect of the popular book. Self-proclaiming trustworthiness demonstrates misunderstanding of the very points these gentlemen made in their writings.
When it comes to trust, Ron reminds us: “Those who talk about it, injure it, and are perceived less believable. Your reputation, like trust, is based on what other people say about you.”
INVISIBLE WALL OF DISTRUST
Talking about buyers, Mark Slatin discusses the seller’s need to overcome the elephant in the room he defines as the “invisible wall of distrust.” He artfully describes the wall’s development, “One brick at a time, year after year, it was built with the mortar of false promises and layers of incompetence.” In other words, we all bear the burden of breaking through perception caused, in great part, by the actions (or inactions) of those who preceded us. Bummer.
To help us in this massive undertaking, Slatin provides us with his Five Pillars of Trust: Transparency, Reliability, Understanding, Sincerity, and Transform. I appreciate his points supporting the first four, especially Transparency and Sincerity, though I find Transform a little broad. But read it and see what you think.
Speaking of transparency, another sales post really stands out. I was always baffled when people would say, “everyone lies on their resume,” because I never did. I’ll bet Suzanne Lowe never did, either. In “I Told the Truth and Got Hired Anyway,” she shares stories of having been so honest in her “pitch” (that time in which people are practically expected to stretch the truth!) that she somewhat baffled her prospects. She confessed she didn’t have similar prior experience.
The result? They asked her the most important question that could have been asked: “Uh… well… then, what makes you think you could help us?” – a question that is not for the faint of heart under any circumstances. Like Suzanne, do lots of good prep to field the question well.
BRANDING RESPONSIBLE FOR CORPORATE DE-PERSONALIZATION?
A post by Louise Manning at The Human Imprint contains a great list of ways to build market trust and shows why personalizing the corporate body is part of this effort. I agree with her there is a need/demand for both corporations and their people (business leaders) to be positive, real, authentic [and accessible!], etc.
However, I'm not sure I agree with Ms. Manning's drawn conclusion that it was the trend of focus on branding strategies that eroded our trust of those corporate leaders. I see the cause and effect somewhat differently. IMHO, the current state has much to do with distrust (and weariness) of corporate hype and fluff which isn't the same thing as branding. A brand might be proposed by a company, but it is only becomes a true and validated brand when sustained, thus created, by the buyer. This doesn't occur without consumer trust in the consistency of the brand.
BUILDING TEAM TRUST
I’m really digging J.D. Meier’s review (at The Book Share blog) of one of my favorite management reads: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni.
A key point is that a team is most effective when operating at a level of “vulnerability-based trust” versus the primarily superficial level of experience-based trust we experience when we trust someone based on predictability due to past-performance. Lencioni does an amazing job of explaining the deeper level of (work-based) intimacy that is required for teams to hit peak performance together.
I highly recommend this excellent recap of a phenomenal book, and then read (or re-read) the book.
IF YOU WANT IT DONE RIGHT, DO IT YOURSELF??
Almost the polar opposite is illustrated in a post entitled "If You Don’t Assume Responsibility, Who Will?" in which David Bohl essentially tells us two things. First: take personal responsibility with especially good advice about mindset when fielding an issue involving any aspect of your company not with blame, but with ownership.
He breaks responsibility down… “response-ability” and shows us that if it’s “my” problem I can fix it! If it’s not our problem, we have the opportunity to be helpless, don’t we? I REALLY like that he says “If I’m responsible, if it’s *my* problem, then I can fix it….But if “you’re” responsible, I’m not able to…it’s not my problem to fix.” (He still totally had me at that point. But then…)
Secondly, he advises handling things yourself to make sure you always have the responsibility. Yikes! Isn't this distrust? "Doing it oneself" could very well be related to a common leadership connundrum, couldn't it? Not trusting our apprentices, or even our partners, to do what they ought to? Egads. Rather than grab an assignment back when it looks like it’s going—or gone—south, it seems an optimal training opportunity to teach responsibility and the accompanying sense of accountability and pride in one’s work.
Sorry, David, there’s definitely wisdom in the post's emphasis on personal accountability (and we do need more of it in this world!), but I worry that letting others off the hook doesn’t help build a sustainable organization.
HOMELOANS & CHEESE
If you've ever wondered what mortgage lending and cheese have in common, Wally Bock strings it all together (sorry, couldn't resist) on his post "Requiem for Cheese and Simple Trust."
He explains why trust is natural and human and how we've removed that element, much to our detriment, with slick systems and automated approaches.
FACEBOOK’S VALUE BASED ON TRUST
Facebook strives to recover from its user-response to Beacon, a perceived (and certainly potential) trust breaching tool to track activities and, yes, user’s KEYWORDS (!) to predict needs and elevate advertising relevance. Oops.
As Jason Voiovich at State of the Brand 2008 mused:
What Facebook really did was butt up against the limits of its brand capital; quite literally, the trust users place in the platform to connect with friends in an online community in a free and open way. That is the true “brand” of Facebook….To the extent that Facebook loses that trust, its value deteriorates and so does its value to the advertisers.
US FOREIGN POLICY IS BASED ON…TRUST??
Martini Revolution illustrates: watch how you toss around the “T” word lest you be labeled a hypocrite. Last week’s State of the Union Address is the topic of his post, “Mr. Bush, you keep using that word ‘trust.’” Alex (not a big fan of the prez) is a bit heated pointing out: “Extraordinary that [Bush—expletive omitted] who trusts no one would use “trust” as the cornerstone of his final State of the Union Address.”
Indeed, Mr. Bush tells us “we must trust” in many things: free people and people who will choose freedom when given a chance; American homeowners; patients; doctors; students; American workers; researchers; scientists; those with innovative spirits, good hearts, etc.
He says our foreign policy, in fact, is based on “a clear premise” of trust. Really? It is?? I must have missed that.
I’m reminded of Ronald Reagan’s words in his moving speech* at Moscow State University in 1988: “I have often said: Nations do not distrust each other because they are armed; they are armed because they distrust each other.” Anyway, maybe it’s safe to say: don’t say it if you don’t do it.
* Reagan's speech is shared in its entirety in Ron Baker’s latest book, Mind Over Matter (Wiley, 2008)
TRUSTING YOUR CANDIDATE MATTERS MOST
Thinking more toward the future presidency, Paul McCord offers up "A Brief Lesson in Sales from Presidential Politics" in which he observes that having a sense of "trust" for a candidate is more important in this election than beliefs, issue stance, likability, and experience. On this important primary election day, do you agree?
I can buy that. We all know that positions change and we're learning that openness about a change can override any negative impact of the change itself.
But can trust really be sold or marketed? Baker says no (above) and I tend to agree, but it sure sounds like the candidates are trying. Especially thinking of McCain's huge new "Trust" campaign launched yesterday. Guess we'll have to wait for the final chapter to see how this one plays out.
So go eat some King Cake, catch some beads, and drink a hurricane or two...Happy Fat Tuesday!
Past Carnivals of Trust are found at Charles Green's Trusted Advisor Associates website. Read them all here: http://trustedadvisor.com/carnivalofTrust/