The Importance of Trust in Cultures

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of implied cultures (to read yesterday’s article, click here: The Importance of Implied Culture). Today, I want to touch upon the importance of implied trust within cultures.

If you are a regular reader of my columns, you understand my multiple reasons for cautioning against buying into the illusion of control (to read more about illusions of control, click here: Be Aware). Most importantly, it stifles freedom and creativity.

In a culture of two or more, trust and control are not compatible. Why is this the case? Consider human relationships. When you feel the need to control another person (please note, true control is an illusion, but some people buy into the illusion), it is likely because you do not trust them. If you trust them, there is no felt need to control them, and there are no actions taken to control them, actions that are often taken to communicate a lack of trust.

Lack of trust and attempts to control can only divert attention and effort that is required to perform at one’s best. To use a football analogy, how good can a quarterback be if he constantly caught up in mistrust of blocking and receiving? Certainly adjustments are needed, but trust in others’ abilities to perform their roles is necessary for maximum attention to one’s own job duties. Without trust, the system will perform less than optimally when everyone – except the leader – performs their duties to their maximum potential. When the leader fails, what happens to making the play? To continue with our football analogy, if a quarterback changes his footwork or throws in anticipation of mistakes that do not occur, the play will break down due to a lack of sequence, timing, or positioning.

If you hang onto the idea that you need to control another’s thoughts, feelings, or actions (or even if you hang onto the illusion that you can control another’s thoughts, feelings, or actions), you will never fully trust them, and you will constantly spin your wheels seeking a control that you will never realize. This will also probably be experienced as frustration and confusion for the other person (or more than one person), and your organization will become bogged down in frustration and confusion.

Thus, attempts to control lead to frustration and confusion and tend to communicate a lack of trust. Without trust, you will stifle the freedom of your organization. Without trust, you will never experience the insight and exponential growth that only results from freedom to explore the limits of what is possible.

You might be thinking, but trust needs to be earned, and isn’t it true that people can prove themselves to be untrustworthy? Absolutely, and this is why it is so important to be trustworthy if you are devoted to the cause of your organization. Any lack of trust threatens to undermine possibility and progress and is likely to bring more attempts to control into play. However, keep in mind that the first show of mistrust is an attempt to control in the first place.

Trust in others, and build pathways for them to show their worth. If they fail, continue to show trust in their ability to improve. This is the path to a great culture.

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