Unleashing the energy we often devote to protecting
ourselves toward accomplishing valued results.
Our strong focus on trust is built into all our work. This inevitably has an impact on leaders, followers, other stakeholders, and the client organization as a whole. This increased trust flows initially from the special relationship that is created between the consultant and principal client(s), and others with whom we have direct contact, and from there throughout the organization.
Alan notes, "I've worked successfully with many clients who were working with a consultant for the first time, or in some cases who previously had mixed, or even negative, experiences with using consulting support. welcome these situations, as an opportunity to validate my strong sense of the potential power of meeting clients where they are and forming high-trust bonds, for adding genuine value."
A few comments from clients -
"Alan is an endearing, respectful and highly motivating professional, with a rare personal touch that allows him to empathize and connect with his mentees to an extraordinary extent." (Nick Valls, Vice President, UNIVISION)
"This personal approach is crucial for a successful coach, his disarming style is immensely effective in establishing trust and sincerity as the cornerstone of a productive coaching relationship." (Nick Valls, Vice President, UNIVISION)
"Each retreat produced superlative results, and we were very happy to invite Alan back on multiple occasions. Not only is Alan an expert at his craft, he is very personable as well, and works well with diverse groups. I highly recommend Alan for any work in the area of team building, strategic planning, communication, leadership training, and such. Alan is a go-to person." (Roger Ball, Division Chief, Inter-American Development Bank)
Questions to consider - Is trust in key relationships at a level that can help to exploit key strengths - among leadership and staff, and with key stakeholders? Trust can be an asset even with competitors, who may on occasion become collaborators.
Do people in and around your organization waste valuable time and energy protecting themselves against what others might do, or not do? Or can they count on their colleagles to have their backs? Do they laugh off the ironies of organizational life, or blame each other for what they themselves can find ways to do better? Does your organization lose customers, income, and/or energy due to this “trust cost”?
AHA activities with clients emerge from the highest possible level of trust and mutual understanding - an atmosphere of openness and transparency, and in most cases good humor. (Some clients are a challenge in this area even for us. ;-) This approach opens channels for bringing all elements that might have a bearing on desired changes into the conversation- perhaps some that hadn’t been previously suspected to have a role.
Alan notes, "It constantly impresses me how much energy people, all of us, devote to protecting ourselves from others' limitations - of competency or intentions. High trust, when achieved, can save this waste and enable us to apply all energy for genuine results and impact."
Trust Cost: a useful context for increasing Trust
I came upon the concept of ‘Trust Cost’ several years ago while designing a workshop on collaboration. It is related to the ‘Total Quality’ literature concept of “Cost of Quality”. To address concerns of clients about the cost of Total Quality interventions, financial and others, began to track costs of not doing the interventions - returned merchandise, damaged image, customer frustration, lower morale, etc.
These examples got me to thinking about the difficulties, extra energy, financial waste etc. that result from people not trusting each other in teams and organizations. I define "trust cost" as the gap between conducting business in situations of high trust, and the additional resources necessary to do so in most of the actual situations that exist in our organizations: people hedging commitments, doing work cautiously and not taking useful risks, not trusting deadlines, in general protecting themselves against the uncertainty that comes from a lack of confidence in what others are saying or doing.
What might we save if we fully believed in our colleagues’ honest and positive intentions, their commitment to keeping their word, and their dedication to completing the tasks for which we depend on them to be doing at a high level? How might that affect our own work? What efforts might we be able to eliminate, and energy we can save, as a result?
For political theory fans, the real originator of this concept is perhaps a writer named Thomas Hobbs. He was known for describing a savage notion of the world where no one trusted each other, and on occasion was accused of possessing a very pessimistic sense of his fellow-human beings.
He responded that his critics manifested an even lower sense by such as the locks they put on their doors, the guards they hired to protect themselves and their property, the bars they put on their windows etc. These examples represent an early sense of what I've come to call "Trust Cost".