The 5 Waves Of Trust

As trust is manifest in each successive wave, the effect of trust becomes cumulative and exponential. - Stephen M. R. Covey

The First Wave: Self Trust

The first wave, Self Trust, deals with the confidence we have in ourselves, in our ability to set goals, to keep commitments, to walk our talk, and also with our ability to inspire trust in others. The whole idea is to become, both to ourselves and to others, a person who is worthy of trust. The key principle underlying this wave is credibility, which comes from the Latin root credere, meaning "to believe." In this first wave, The 4 Cores of Credibility can be used to increase credibility and to firmly establish trust with ourselves and with others. The end result of high character and high competence is credibility, judgment and influence. 

The Second Wave: Relationship Trust

The second wave, Relationship Trust, is about how to establish and increase the "trust accounts" we have with others. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behavior; and there are 13 Behaviors of High Trust that are based on principles that govern trust in relationships. They are practitioner-based and validated by research. These 13 Behaviors can be learned and applied by any individual at any level within any organization. The net result is a significantly increased ability to generate trust with all involved in order to enhance relationships and achieve better results. 

The Third Wave: Organizational Trust

The third wave, organizational trust, centers around alignment. Most people find that their organization has symptoms of low trust; people manipulating facts, withholding information, resisting new ideas, and covering up mistakes. The low trust environment is a result of violating principles, both individually and organizationally. Leaders are missing the solution because they are not looking at the systems, structures, processes, and policies that affect day-to-day behaviors. They are focused on the symptoms instead of the principles that promote trust. 

This misalignment creates symbols that represent and communicate underlying values to everyone in the organization. A symbol can be either negative or positive; from a 500-page employee handbook to a newly appointed CEO who refuses to accept a pay raise because it might send the wrong message to workers. If your organizational symbols communicate and cultivate distrust or less trust than you want, return to the Four Cores. 

The Fourth Wave: Market Trust

The fourth wave, market trust, is all about brand or reputation. It's all about the feeling you have that makes you want to buy products or services or invest your money or time. This is the level where most people clearly see the relationship between trust, speed, and cost. 

Brand is important to all organizational entities, including governments, school districts, charities and hospitals, not to mention corporations. On a micro level, every individual has a brand or reputation that affects trust, speed and cost. It comes across in your resume in comments from your references and it translates into how people interact with you in social situations. 

If you do not have the brand you desire, you can measurably increase its value by using the Four Cores as a diagnostic tool to pinpoint the reason why, and where investment will bring the greatest return. Then use the 13 Behaviors with external stakeholders - customers, suppliers, investors, communities - and you will build trust at the marketplace level.

The Fifth Wave: Societal Trust

The fifth wave, societal trust, is based on the overriding principle of contribution. It's the intent to create value instead of destroying it; to give back instead of taking. 

This is not an impractical or utopian view of the world. The principles of contribution and responsibility create trust at a societal level through today's trend toward global citizenship or corporate social responsibility. 

Though initially, fear might motivate global citizenship, over time, the dividends and abundance created by contribution will become primary drivers for both individuals and organizations. Global citizenship will be demanded as customers support companies that demonstrate the Four Cores. 

A big part of leadership is inspiring teams to meet performance goals. But what determines whether they respond? Here are 6 ways your leaders can build trust and avoid breaking it.


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