How Best Leaders Use the 8 C’s of Trust

We all know trust, not money, is the currency of business and life. World leaders confirmed this when they convened in 2009 at the World Economic Forum in China, declaring that the world today is suffering from the biggest crisis of all times – lack of trust. From massive fraud in business to scandals in athletics, the world is rife with trust issues.   

In his book Trust Edge, author David Horsager explores the underlying connection between genuine success and trust. His research unveils how trust has the ability to either accelerate or destroy organizations and relationship.

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First, let’s start with Horsager’s definition of trust: “Trust is a confident belief in someone or something. It is the confident belief in an entity:

  • To do what is right
  • To deliver what is promised
  • To be the same every time, whatever the circumstances

Therefore, the trust edge is the competitive advantage gained when others confidently believe in you. Horsager likens trust to a forest – a long time to grow but easily burned down.

What I found helpful in his research is the eight pillars of trust.

Pillar 1: Clarity

Clarity unifies, motivates, increases morale, and inspires trust. Clear communication leads to trusted colleagues, happy employees, and satisfied customers. Without a clear plan, people are confused and become ineffective. For the trusted leader, clarity starts with honesty. Clarity increase when a message is heard or seen frequently. According to Edelman’s 2009 Trust Barometer, people need to hear information about a company three to five times in order to believe the information. Clarity becomes especially important when you are sharing the vision and purpose of an organization. A clear vision unifies and motivates. Also clear communication of expectations will prevent both misbehavior and failure.

Pillar 2: Compassion

Caring leads to trust. Think beyond yourself and put people before things to improve relationships. John Maxwell said it right: “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” There are four ways to express our compassion known as “LAWS”(Listen, Appreciate, Wake up, Serve Others)

Pillar 3: Character

High character includes having integrity – being consistent in thoughts, words, and actions by which to live. Also, character encompasses a strong moral compass. Character isn’t formed in one day. It is through continued hard work and intentional effort. Reminder yourself of this simple question: “Am I doing the right thing?” One easy and quick way to lose trust by breaking promises.

Pillar 4: Competency

People tend to trust those who know can do the job. Stretch your mind with new ideas, fresh thoughts, and different perspectives. Find a circle of professionals with whom you can grow and sharpen one another, and find a mentor who is successful or wise in the same ways you would like to be. One way I’ve found helpful honing my competency is by joining Mastermind groups. You notice synergy when your ideas are added together with other bright minds.

Pillar 5: Commitment

The strongest leaders in history demonstrated an unwillingness to give in when things were tough, and so they were able to unite others in support of their cause.  When you are truly committed, you will go out of your way to help others and make great sacrifices. Likewise, the people who stick with you during difficult times are the ones you can really trust. Conversely, without commitment from the leader, a team will not win. Look at Martin Luther King Jr. He endured 30 arrests, physical assault, and threats against t his family because of his determination that men should live as equals. Commitment requires taking ownership and personal responsibility for their actions.

Pillar 6: Connection

Trust at its core is about relationships. Connecting with your staff, employees, and bosses start by asking the right questions. Because we often don’t get past the surface, we miss out on a depth of understanding that could allow us to better see the opinions, needs and challenges of others. Ask questions, not only of your employees but your customers, and be sure to listen to and deliberate over their answers.

Pillar 7: Contribution

Contributors deliver results. They are givers who invest in others. Givers understand the fundamental truth, “The more you give, the more you receive.” Think of the following questions to see how you can be a giver.

  • Attention: Can you notice or acknowledge people more?
  • Resources: Can you set a place to give away a larger percentage of your income every year?
  • Time: Can you spend more time making a positive difference?
  • Opportunity: Can you give someone a chance or an opportunity?
  • Help: Can you help someone in a practical way?

Pillar 8: Consistency

Consistency is about self-discipline. All these pillars are critical, but without consistency, they crumble. Deliver the same quality of results every time, and you will maintain trust. Start by creating life-changing habits. Here’s some steps that will help you create a habit-changing environment.

  • Write down the habit you want to change. Writing it down solidifies commitment.
  • Note the benefits of changing and consequences of not changing.
  • It is easier to “replace” a habit than to “quit” it.
  • Work on one habit at a time.
  • Create a clear plan.
  • Break the plan down into daily actions.
  • Create appropriate accountability through a trusted friend or professional.
  • Reward the target behavior.
  • Keep it on top of your mind.
  • Remove the distractions.
  • Ask for help.

No matter your role, trust affects your influence and success. Remember, the lack of trust is the biggest expense.

Question: How do you plan to use the eight pillars to build your trust edge?

  • Patrick Green

    Liked It, shared it in several Linked In groups!

    • Thanks so much Patrick! Really appreciate the share. 🙂

  • Joshua Lee Henry

    Great post Paul! I’ll have to look into the book by Horsager. Have you ever heard of the book, “Trust: The One Thing that Makes or Breaks a Leader” by Les T. Csorba? I would imagine from this blog, the two titles may be similar in approach to addressing trust first and foremost as a character trait. I especially enjoyed the metaphor of trust being like a forest. Often it only takes one wrong decision to burn down everything a leader has worked to build. Attempting to be creative, I’d contribute a 9th “C” – conversations. Really this is a combination of all eight qualities listed, but focuses on the relational dynamic of leadership as opposed to organizational hierarchy.

    • I haven’t heard that book from Csorba. I’ll definitely check it out as well. Thank you Joshua for leaving this comment. Hope you’re feeling better and recuperating quickly. You’re in my prayers brother.

    • By the way, I love the 9th C – conversations. It’s all in our interactions and conversations that things happen. Great point!

  • Lynn Hare

    “When you are truly committed, you will go out of your way to help others and make great sacrifices.” I pray that any pride I might have will not prevent me from serving Christ, even when it’s inconvenient or feels awkward. I want to be a leader that points others to Him, no matter how tough things get.

    I love this post. Paul, in what area do you feel you’ve made recent strides in consistency?

  • Ana Gabriel Mann

    Paul, Love the post and love your perspective. You are the “light” of the world. I’m sure you are familiar with the book “The Go-Giver” by Burg & Mann

  • Florine

    Thanks Paul. As a teacher I need to be trusted by colleagues, parents and children. Will work on these and expect to see improvement in my relationships.

  • Shaveen Fernando

    Social Alliance for Love and Trust (SALT) formed to addrss this trust issue and bring back hope to the marketplace.