Go On, Trust Me

Successful organisations revolve around trust.  The more you trust your colleagues the less you worry about them:

As trust rises, business becomes faster, smoother and cheaper.  Frictional costs disappear.  As Steven Covey would say, business moves at the “speed of trust”.

Trust is a big deal.

So what is trust?

No 2 by 2 model will really ever define trust, but hell, here is one anyway, put forward by Peter Scholtes:

Trust Matrix

Trust is based on two factors:

  • Aptitude:  The extent to which I think you are capable
  • Benevolence:  The extent to which I think you have my best interests at heart

I am affectionate towards my daughters, they care about me, but they are hopeless.  I wouldn’t trust them to make me a cup of tea, let alone wire a plug.

I respect the Prime Minister, he is a clever man, though he taxes me enough to fund the Houses of Parliament’s wine cellar.  I certainly don’t trust him.

There aren’t really many people I truly trust.  Which is a shame, because at best lack of trust is expensive and at worst… well I’m sure you’ve been there.

So how do you and I build trust?

If you believe the model then it is really simple:

The strange thing is that more often than not you have to give trust before you can receive it.  All of which makes me wonder; how many people truly trust me?

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Image by MichaelKuhn_pics


  1. If you come to the states, drop by, for a lovely cup of tea while we discuss trust. I grew up in NYC. I live in the SF bay area for quite a while now. When I go to NYC to visit, I give pedestrians the right of way, but there is no trust. Two senior citizens waiting to cross, I stopped and waved them on. They both shook their heads no and insisted I go first. I guess I don’t look trust worthy.

  2. James,

    You know how I feel about trust. It has a lot of ingredients, for sure. But I agree with how you succinctly summarize it with two: do what you say you’re going to do, and act in the best interest of your customers.

    Annette :-)

  3. Hi James,
    I think you are bang on when you say you have to give trust before you can receive it. You also have to earn it and keep on earning it as it can be an ephemeral thing, particularly nowadays. Maybe that’s where the challenge lies.



  1. […] may also find it useful to look at the trust matrix developed by Peter Scholtes, author of The Leader’s Handbook. His trust matrix is based on […]

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