The source of being a great leader, successful salesperson, an effective team member… just about any role in an organization (or life) is building a strong foundation of trust. There are several ways to look at building trust but one of my favorites is to look at it through the lens of: Source Credibility.
Source credibility is basically when you trust someone so much that you don’t even question their intention or honesty. For example, I’m sure that everyone reading this column has someone in their life that if the phone rang right now and they said, “I need you here right away,” you would just hang up the phone and go immediately – that is someone with extremely high source credibility in your life. To help you understand this idea even more deeply here is an equation that describes the core elements of source credibility.
C + R + I
In this equation this C stands for competency, you must be very good at what you do, highly skilled, what I like to call Towering Competence. The R stands for “reliability,” people have to know that if you give your word you’re always going to keep it, they can count on you; you always deliver what you promise. The I stands for “intimacy” which focuses on “tie strength,” this means how strong is our relationship, do we know each other outside of business, have we known each other a long time, do we talk to each other about important/personal things, do we have a strong and close relationship. And the SO in the equation stands for “self-orientation,” in other words how much is the relationship all about me, me, me.
If you filled it in with numbers you would want it to be 10+10+10 divided by 1. Meaning that you want to show a very high level of competence, 100% reliability, have a very strong personal relationship and throughout the entire relationship you are focused on the other person, helping and assisting them. When you build this kind of relationship people know that they can trust you because you’re really good at what you do, you keep your promises, they know you well and they know that you always act with THEIR best interests at heart. Now, think about this idea as relates to a leader, or salesperson, or anyone else you work with, when they have high source credibility with you; then you are going to extend them a tremendous amount of trust. So the challenge in building that level of trust is in increasing your competence every day, demonstrating high levels of reliability over time and finding ways to increase the tie strength and intimacy of your relationship, while always working hard to help the other person and do what is only in their best interest.
One more thing on trust, the best way to build trust is to extend it first. For many people this is a very hard concept to grasp, it is their belief that “I will only give someone trust after they have earned it,” however if you wait until the other person clearly shows you that you can trust them, it can take a very long time. Effective leaders extend trust first and then take it back if warranted, but they always lead with trust so that they can build a stronger bond and create more trust immediately.