Trust is an intangible thing.  You can’t measure it.  However, you know when you have it and when you don’t.  The value of trust is indescribable.  When you have trust, things work well but when we don’t have trust, people struggle,  the organization suffers.

When there is a gap between what is expected and what actually happens, the question is, what do you put into that gap?   What you place into that gap explains the culture of your organization.  You can place ‘trust’ into that gap or ‘assume the worst.’  To build trust into your organization, you need to place ‘trust’ into that gap.

Example: Someone is late for a meeting.  As the leader, what do you assume?  Do you think the best or do you think the worst?  A good leader places trust into that gap and this leads to trust being placed into the organization.

A poor leader would assume the worst in that moment.  They think, “They are late because they are lazy, disorganized, disrespectful, etc.”  A poor leader is someone who keeps a list of what someone does wrong.  They look for the gaps.  They’re method of management is to focus on the gaps, the problems.  How do they solve problems?  They create more policies.  People in this environment feel micromanaged and slowly over time become angry because of feeling mistreated.

Patrick Lencioni explains the Fundamental Attribution Error: When someone else creates that gap, we assume the worst.  They are lazy, a poor planner, disorganized, etc.  But when I am late, it’s for a good reason, it’s okay.  When you yell at your kid, you’re a mean parent.  When I yell at my kid, my kids deserved it.

What we need to do is to give people the same benefit that we give ourselves.  Everyone around us.

When there is trust placed into that gap, a couple things happen.  When there is a problem, we get together to solve it.  We don’t point fingers, we find the answers.  When a leader sees a gap, they talk to those the lead because they assume there is information they don’t have.  How do people respond when you believe the best in them?  Inspired.  They feel trusted.  They will go out of their way to be better.

When there is no trust, that means the leader assumes the worst and the people they lead feel that.  They feel micromanaged.  They are not inspired to be there best and excel.  Why would they?  Whatever they do, the leader will assume the worst.  This leads to hard feelings.  A suffocating environment.  A tit-for-tat culture.  You have to find ways to motivate people.

Okay, the big question you are dying to ask:  What do you do when the same person continues to create that gap?  You have another discussion.  Something needs to change quickly.

The next time someone creates a gap between what you expect and what happens, what will you put into that gap?  Remember, what you place into that gap will explain the culture of your organization.

Source: Interview with Andy Stanley