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The Decision to Trust: How Leaders Create High-Trust Organizations Hardcover – October 25, 2011
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Amazon.com Exclusive Q&A with Dr. Robert F. Hurley, author of The Decision to Trust
Why is trust increasingly important? What value does it bring?
Speed, agility, and commitment are crucial to winning in today’s markets, and none of these are possible without trust. When we do not trust, cooperation and exchange become slower and more problematic. Unfortunately, the risk and uncertainty inherent in today's dynamic environments make trust both more important and more difficult. Those firms that understand how to create trust in these challenging times—like Google, Ernst & Young, and Zappos—will have a major advantage.
What's unique about your research on trust?
My research on trust is the first to look at trust from a decision-making perspective designed to provide leaders with an ability to influence our decisions about who we trust or distrust. I’ve identified ten factors that we know will lead people to trust: risk tolerance, adjustment, power, situational security, similarities, alignment of interests, benevolent concern, capability, predictability and integrity, and communication. This allows us to understand how to change specific perceptions of trustworthiness and enhance our ability to trust and be trusted.
What is it that most of us get wrong about trust?
Most of us take dangerous shortcuts when we decide to trust. We think because someone is benevolent or a member of the "tribe" (e.g., same social, ethnic group, or religion), that they can be trusted. Bernie Madoff exploited many of these trust errors very well. When we fail to consider the factors that lead people to trust, we run the risk of poor trust decisions and the pain of betrayal.
How can we judge our own inclination to trust?
People vary in their disposition or capacity to trust, to make themselves vulnerable to others. Three major factors that affect the capacity to trust are your risk tolerance, level of adjustment, and degree of power. People who are risk tolerant are less cautious and more likely to trust. Similarly, people who are well adjusted (confident and comfortable with themselves) are less obsessed about others' possible failure and therefore more comfortable with vulnerability. Finally, people who feel they have some power in a situation tend to trust more because they have some recourse to recover from or penalize betrayal.
How can we make an effective decision about whether to trust someone or not?
You need to make sure the degree of trust you offer matches the degree of trustworthiness in the other party. How aligned are your interests with the other party? How similar are the parties' values, how predictable is the behavior, and how transparent in communicating is the trustee? There is always risk, but you'll increase the odds of safe trust if you consider trustworthiness in a comprehensive manner before leaping to a decision. You can use these decision-to-trust factors in managing trust between people, in teams, across groups, in an organization, and even across cultural groups globally.
How can an organization embed trust into its fabric, and what's an example?
There are six basic factors that must be embedded in an organization's system in order to become a high-trust company: similarities, alignment of interests, benevolent concern, capability or competence, predictability and integrity, and open communication. The more critical question is how does a leader do this? I offer a model that breaks the organizational system down into its two major components: management infrastructure (strategy, leadership, culture, structure, selection, systems) and core business processes (product and service design, product and service production, and product and service delivery). I show how the six factors can be embedded in the organization in a way that is congruent and reinforcing throughout the entire system. For example, Procter & Gamble has won many awards and has avoided major scandals because it embeds trustworthiness throughout the organizational system. Most trust failures occur because one aspect of the system is trustworthy but another is incongruent and not trustworthy;Toyota's values and ethics training were stellar, but the global recall system was flawed due to overcentralization.
Why do most leaders fail to build trust across their teams?
Mostly because they spend too much time building cohesion within the team and not enough time establishing trust between teams. Trust must follow interdependence in how customer value is created, not organization charts and formal reporting lines. Excessive silos impede a great deal of innovation and value creation in organizations today.
What are the first steps any of us can start taking tomorrow to make better trust decisions?
First, consider the other party's real interests. What does he or she want to gain in the relationship and what drives his or her behavior? If this is aligned with your interests, trust is more advisable. If your interests conflict, consider other aspects of trust. How benevolent and caring about others is the trustee, meaning, will he take all the spoils or will he (as a matter of practice or character) leave some for others or, better yet, let others take theirs first. Finally, is the trustee predictable and will he communicate all news, good and bad, with openness and transparency? If yes, trust is probably advisable.
“Robert Hurley's remarkable book, The Decision to Trust, provides brilliant, original insights on how leaders build trust in themselves and in their organizations. In leadership today, nothing is more important than regaining the trust we have lost in recent years. Trust is the essential ingredient to building authentic organizations that sustain peak performance.”
—Bill George, professor, Harvard Business School; former chair & CEO, Medtronic; and author, True North
“The Decision to Trust presents a comprehensive and engaging analysis on the elements of trust. Dr. Hurley's framework ranges from heightening personal awareness to extending organizational effectiveness and is extremely relevant for organizations and teams that endeavor to maximize their brand capital across our interconnected world.”
—James S. Turley, chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young
“Credibility is the foundation of leadership, and trust is the most important factor in determining whether or not you have it. That makes The Decision to Trust a very timely must-read for every leader. Robert Hurley offers compelling data, real-world examples, and practical advice on how we can more intelligently and compassionately build trust between individuals and across groups and organizations. He also offers hope. While the challenges are great, The Decision to Trust is a book that will better equip you to successfully meet them.”
—Jim Kouzes, coauthor, The Leadership Challenge and Credibility, and The Dean's Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University
“The Decision to Trust is essential for all leaders looking to build better organizations and to take their companies to the next level. With a robust and comprehensive model for building trust, this book provides the tools you need to make your team extraordinary.”
—Keith McFarland, author, The Breakthrough Company and Bounce
“Perhaps at no time in our history has trust become such a valued and scarce commodity. It is an essential element of every leader's moral compass and a necessity for business growth and international leadership. Robert Hurley has given us a perspective that is clear, actionable, and can help restore this bedrock of all productive relationships.”
—General Anthony C. Zinni, Marine Corps, retired; chairman, BAE Systems; and author, Leading the Charge
“This book provides an invaluable perspective on what organizational trust really is all about, and how it can be influenced by individuals, teams and leadership systems. Dr. Hurley's research is both comprehensive and compelling. More importantly, it offers the reader practical guidelines and tools.”
—Jon R. Katzenbach, coauthor, Leading Outside the Lines, and senior vice president, Booz & Company
“For executives and managers who aspire to create high-trust organizations, Robert Hurley's The Decision to Trust is the book to read. The framework he proposes is eminently sensible and powerful. The Decision to Trust will help leaders reap the myriad benefits of trust within their own organizations.”
—Roderick M. Kramer, William R. Kimball Professor of Organizational Behavior, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
“Nothing much happens within an organization unless there is a foundation of trust between its members. Robert Hurley makes building that fundamental trust very actionable. For a leader who is attempting to build a team, this model is invaluable. We've seen a lot of books on trust, but none come close to examining the issue of trust in working relationships with the rigor that Dr. Hurley has provided.”
—Doug Lennick and Fred Kiel, PhD, authors of Moral Intelligence
“This well-researched book provides valuable information for individuals, as well as for leaders of organizations, on how they can increase the trust that others have of them.”
—Morton Deutsch, E.L. Thorndike Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Director Emeritus of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR), Teachers College, Columbia University
“Dr. Hurley's deep experience in research and in the trenches of organizational practice allows him to offer some powerful ideas on how to manage trust. The Decision to Trust is full of useful insights and should be required reading for leaders and anyone seeking to earn and keep others' trust.”
—Chester Cadieux, chairman and CEO, Quiktrip Corporation, retired
“In these times, when working with organizational executives, the issue that constantly tops the list is trust—that is, the lack thereof. Mistrust is pervasive, cutting across all kinds of organizations, and is highly stable, whereas trust is delicate and can be destroyed in a nanosecond. Trust, therefore, can never be taken for granted, as Hurley makes abundantly clear in this excellent book. His invaluable contribution has been to provide a model (a) for how to understand the nature of trust and (b) what the key criteria are in deciding about whether to trust in the first place. Hurley has addressed one of the most important issues in human relationships today.”
—W. Warner Burke, PhD, Edward Lee Thorndike Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University
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Hurley's analysis helps understanding the importance of trustworthiness in any organization. The pragmatic approach of DTM offers a range of tangible tools to apply in assessing and developing trust, ultimately enabling the reader to make a difference in building sound business relationships.
o Make better decisions about who and what to trust
o Allocate trust-building energy by appreciating how others make trust decisions
o Identify the root cause of trust issues
o Offer concrete interventions and reforms that enhance trust
o Identify in which situations trust can and can't be developed
o Establish and enhance trust at different levels and to varying extent
It should be emphasized that, with appropriate modifications, the DTM has almost unlimited applications. Its potential value is incalculable. Hurley suggests six (6) reasons for the decline of trust (Pages 16-21) and then explains how it manifests itself at different levels: individual (i.e. people don't trust each other), structural (i.e. departments don't trust other departments), and cultural (i.e. distrust pervades throughout the given enterprise). "In high-trust collectives, people and groups are invited to move beyond their narrow self-interests and commit to common goals. They aren't excessively distracted by the need to protect themselves from others' self-promoting agendas." It is worth noting that trust is the primary measure by which The Great Place to Work® Institute selects the annual list of "100 Best Companies to Work For" published by Fortune magazine.
In Chapter 2, Hurley identifies and discusses what he characterizes as
"Ten Essential Elements of Trust." There are three trustor factors (i.e. risk tolerance, psychological adjustment, and relative power) that are the result of "a complex mix of personality culture, and experience and account for the fact that building trust takes more time and effort than it does for others." There are seven situational factors (i.e. security, similarities, alignment of interests, benevolent concern, capability, predictability and integrity, and communication" that trustees can most effectively address and influence in order to gain the trust the confident reliance - of trustors."
In most (if not all) workplaces, everything of value begins with trust and goes nowhere without it. Hurley explains both how and why by citing dozens of real-world situations throughout his lively narrative. We all know that trust is earned over time and must be nourished by behavior worthy of it but trust can be lost in an instant. Hence the importance of the Decision to Trust Model (DTM) that offers two substantial benefits: It provides a structure and methodology by which to make better trust decisions, and, it creates a context, a frame-of-reference within which to determine the nature and impact of those decisions. Readers will also appreciate the Trust Diagnosis Worksheet" in Appendix B as well as Hurley's review of "Some Trust Interventions to Build Trust" in Appendix C that include strategies to (1) address orientation to trustee, (2) facilitate appropriate risk in relationships, (3) prevent coercion, and (4) redistribute power at the interpersonal and group levels.