Sunday, December 23, 2007

Building Community - Trust Begets Trust

I am very fond of any catch phrase that allows me to easily remember or convey a principle. I apply catch phrases in technology, leadership, or even home life. Here are some of my favorites in my technology space, i.e., business intelligence and data warehousing:
  • Touch a table, take a table.
  • Nulls are evil.
  • Let the ETL do the heavy lifting.
At home, there is a separate set of catch phrases that I use with my teenagers. For example:
  • Make good decisions
  • Learn a lot
  • No Bs, No Keys
These catch phrases are great because once they are explained and used, they serve as easy reminders and statements of guiding principles for a team or a family. You gotta love a great catch phrase.

In my leadership vernacular, one of my favorite catch phrases comes from Tom Peters, "It begets it". I've referenced it before and I have usually applied this phrase to smiles and thanks, as in, Smiles begets smiles. This refers to the notion that as a leader, if you smile, your team members will smile back.

I was studying the The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner looking for new insight on building community and fostering collaboration across teams and was ecstatic when I found the perfect catch phrase focusing on trust, "Trust begets trust."

The research of Kouzes and Posner exalts the role of trust as a foundation for leadership and collaboration. In speaking of trust they convey,

It's the central issue in human relationship within and outside organizations. Without trust you cannot lead. Without trust you cannot get extraordinary thinks done. Individuals who are unable to trust others fail to become leaders.

The work of Kouzes and Posner clearly suggests that trust is a two way street, you need other to trust in you just as much as you need to trust others. So how do you develop trust within your team.

You can start easily with "Trust begets trust." You need to demonstrate that you are open to influence and value other peoples alternative viewpoints. Trust is built when you make yourself vulnerable. You simply need to demonstrate trust in others before asking for trust from others. And finally, listen, listen, listen in order to demonstrate your respect for others and their ideas.

Thanks to Kouzes and Posner, I have taken these simple trust concepts and have now associated them with the phrase, "Trust begets trust."

I'd love to hear other catch phrases from you that effectively allow you to package a leadership principle or concepts. Please comment.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

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