A few weeks ago, while preparing for a talk, I reached for Amy Cuddy’s book Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges. Cuddy speaks about how, in sizing others up as credible leaders, people ask themselves two questions: Do I trust this person and Do I respect this person? In the parlance of psychology, these two aspects translate into “warmth” and “competence”, and there is a vast body of research that shows that trust and competence are the two main drivers of credibility.
In the corporate world, we tend to focus primarily on how to become better experts, and much less on how to gain and keep the trust of others. Most organizations are geared to exclusively value competence — it’s how people get promoted, get listened to and gain influence.
But in a world where disruption and constant change is the new normal, agility and the ability to react quickly is just as important. In that case, it’s the leaders that people trust who will be more likely to quickly and effortlessly mobilize people to change, adapt and follow them into unknown territory.
Experience and knowledge are important, but if you want people to follow you, you need them to trust you first, so that they can benefit from your competence.
Knowing this and putting it into practice, however are two different things. And, in fact, while I see that most of my clients understand this, it’s hard for them to pay as much attention to cultivating and developing social connections as they do to the rest of their work.
Why? In a world where we are all constantly busy, it’s hard to slow down to take time to focus on the things that build trust:
- Listening deeply
- Taking the time to communicate effectively, authentically and strategically
- Getting to know people individually as people (I like lunching or coffeeing with people)
- Practicing kindness and respect towards everyone
- Developing empathy
What are you doing to actively cultivate and work on your trustworthiness?
All the Best,