The Success Formula - Part 3

In part 3 of The Success Formula, we will look at Trust.

All healthy and sound relationships are built on trust. Trust is like a bond or a life-line, and trust needs to be earned. It takes time to build trust, but it can be ruined and gone in a fraction of second. Trust is also tightly intertwined with both respect and honesty. Take away any of these core values and what ever you are trying to build will come tumbling down.

Trust is such a vital part of our daily life, that we don’t even think about it. When we take our car to the road we trust the road signs and that other drivers stick to the traffic rules. When we board an airplane we trust the pilot and crew that they will safely bring us to our destination and we entrust them with our most valuable possession, our lives.

We hopefully also trust our government and other local or federal authorities, but in many countries that’s not the rule of thumb. Even in a “developed” democracy it’s often more a rule than an exception, that we really cannot trust our so called leaders. Unfortunately powers corrupt, and real leadership is probably the most scarce resource of all.

But to be successful in almost any endeavor we need to build upon trust. In any successful team or organization the level of trust is very high. We trust the leadership and fellow teammates that they will always do their very best for the team/organization. Also on an individual level we need to trust our own abilities, skills, and knowledge. High achievers always have a very high level of trust in their own ability, and success can never be attained if we lack in trust.

When I joined the Customer Engineering department at IBM back in 1977, my first manager was what I call a rug-sack manager. He was not very supportive, and when you where on a customer call with a machine failure, he would call you every 15 minutes to check how things where going. This was really annoying, because every time he called you, your thought process was interrupted and you almost had to start the problem determination process all over again. He would also be easily fired up if the customer called him and expressed concerns about the fix progress. The problem he had, was that he didn’t trust you, at least not well enough to let you do your job in the best possible way.

My second line-manger was the complete opposite. He was always 100% supportive and had complete trust in you. He knew that if you couldn’t fix it within the expected time frame, you would call for help. This he also reassured any worrying customer that would call him. The complete trust that my second line-manager showed me and the other Customer Engineers in our group, was to become my own guiding principles years later as I became a manager myself.

Sometimes however, trust can almost become a burden. When I, during a number of years during the 1980s, was Country Specialist for IBM in Saudi Arabia, I was bestowed which such levels of trust, that I more or less received a cult status. Some of my colleagues had such great faith and trust in me, that they where totally convinced that if only I showed up at a site that had a serious system down problem, all problems would be solved. And I was lucky, because I managed to live up to these expectations every time I was called in as second line support, even when we faced some very difficult cases.

But not everyone are able to live up to the expectations that are put on there shoulders. We’ve seen this for example in the sports world, where not everyone have the right mental strength to live up to the trust that has been bestowed upon them. So we need some moderation. Trust is good, but we also need to offer assistance to those whom we trust and have faith in.