Leadership Distinction #30: Trust

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Leadership Distinction #29: Authentic

This kind of trust is a gamble — but it’s a gamble you must take

At the turn of the century Robert Solomon and Fernando Flores introduced a practical and clear way of thinking about Trust that deserves wider recognition. Here I’m going to do my part in support of that. They segmented the title word for this blog – a word that few can succinctly or uniformly define — into 3 distinct modes of interaction.  

Simple trust’ is found among small children or in families – at least those without any major breakdown or betrayal. ‘Blind trust’ is simply self-deception. And ‘authentic trust’ is the kind most of us operate in and deploy in all of our relationships, work, personal, and beyond. As I will try to explain, there is nothing simple about this kind of trust.

To do justice to the phrase ‘authentic trust’ one ought to read their book “Building Trust.” For those who haven’t the time, what follows is an insufficiently nuanced testimony of a person operating with authentic trust in a relationship – the only relevant arena for trust to be even considered. 

Neither you nor I will get very far in what we want out of our lives without some measure of trust. We both respect the fact that each of us, as human beings, and the institutions we construct to serve us are going to be responsible for let downs – some of them major. There will be distrust that surfaces in our interactions, as more often than not doubt and suspicion are merely pushed down below the surface, anyway, so we can get on with things, including this very relationship — which we are both wise to uphold as best we can. We agree to leave ourselves open to take an emotional hit, for the sake of what cannot be made possible if we do not.

You may be too young to remember the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties I and II (“SALT Talks”) of the late 1960s and 70s, spanning 4 American presidencies and several Soviet premiers. During his tenure, President Ronald Reagan became enamored with a uniquely relevant Russian proverb that he believed characterized the US posture toward its signatory on the other side of the table – and which also neatly captures the meaning of this leadership distinction entry: “Trust, but verify.”

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Episode 29