Character and Competence

I often ask business professionals to define trust. Many describe how trust looks and feels, - it is an emotional bond after all. With trust comes confidence. Confidence in oneself and the other person. Confidence is developed from one's character and competence. Character includes ethics, integrity, and intentions. Competence includes capabilities, skills, execution and results.

A scenario was posed a few weeks ago at a forum that I attended. A large group of business professionals were asked how to best handle a top performing sales producer who was an absolute terror - a real jerk with whom to work. In spite of the increasing focus on ethics in our society, I was surprised to hear how many people would tolerate the behaviors in order to realize the short-term results. What they really don't recognize is the toxic nature of the person and how that attitude is a cancer to the company culture that eventually will cost a dear price. Short-term thinking, action and results are a fool's game. If clients refuse to tolerate such behavior, so should you.

The other side of trust, competence, is equally essential and often overlooked. You might like a person believe him sincere, even honest, but you won't trust that person fully if he or she either lacks appropriate skills or fails to achieve desired results.

Trust has real and measurable consequences. Consider the time and steps thatorganizations take to compensate for their lack of trust. When quantified, these costs demonstrate the economic impact. The ROI of high degrees of trust can be similarly demonstrated making for a compelling business case. The best leaders with whom I've worked focus on creating and sustaining trust as an organizational objective. It too is measured, improved and communicated across the enterprise.It is both the right thing to do and it produces the best outcomes for clients and the company.

Building a culture of trust and credibility begins with individual commitment one person at a time that later builds into a collective community and a company culture. In a commoditized world, character and competence are real differentiators for any individual and business regardless of industry. Reputation reflects credibility and trustworthiness, and it precedes any potential engagements. Leaders with high credibility and reputation establish trust quickly - accelerating innovation, sales cycles, implementation and so on .

Character and competence form the basis for trust. Being the best in each builds the confidence that earns trust, enabling growth and a measured economic impact to the business.