Trust on the Rise

June 28, 2010 Leave a comment

|Photo by joi||

Our colleagues at Interaction Associates have done some wonderful work on the importance of trust in the workplace and what leaders can do to cultivate this, especially under uncertain circumstances the likes of which seem to be omnipresent these days.  More recently, former IBMer Irving Wladawsky-Berger has taken this conversation to a new level in a post that looks at trust as “the most important operational resource in our society.”  In our increasingly complex, interconnected, and distributed world, he says, one’s reputation as an individual or institution is foundational to what we might call success.  This observation contributes to his sense that we are in the midst of a values-based generational transition as potentially profound as the sixties.

Without rehashing the entire post here (I encourage you to read it in its entirety by going to this link), I want to point out some of the more interesting parts and ask what folk engaged in the social sectors and social change work think

  • Wladawsky-Berger refers to studies showing a profound difference between current CEO and student attitudes (and values) regarding globalization and sustainability.  Students tend to see these two as intertwined themes and there is little question in their minds that as global citizens we have responsibility to others in the world, and that this bigger view must be part of organizational operations.
  • The very nature of work is undergoing profound changes, with the disaggregation of organizational functions and the enlistment of various casts of characters for discrete projects.  We are entering the age of the endeavor over the enterprise.
  • Given this more open, ad hoc, and integrated world, trust and reputation become of utmost importance.  “Reputational capital” is built through a combination of demonstrated competence, an adherence to shared social values, and an ability to emotionally connect with others.

So what is your take?  Is trust a currency in your work?  Has its importance shifted?  How do you share and grow it?

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  • Gibran says:

    This totally resonates for me, I think it is what makes networks work – trust allows us to “vouch” for each other and that allows the network to grow, the more you are trusted the more you can vouch for those you trust. I think that this idea of the endeavor is also helpful, it speaks to purpose, so trust is no longer just about my buddies and good ol’ boys, but about people who have the capacity and the sense of purpose to make great things happen. I have friends I care a lot about who might not be the people I vouch for in the context of an endeavor, I will move trust around among people whom I trust to have a shared sense of purpose and the capacity to make great things happen.

  • Curtis says:

    Gibran, I also like how Wladawsky-Berger breaks “trust capital” down into (1) demonstrated competence, (2) adherence to shared social values, and (3) the ability to connect with others emotionally. It brings some more concreteness to the way that we build trust with others.

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