HBR. on Trust…

The Three Elements of Trust

By understanding the behaviors that underlie trust, leaders are better able to elevate the level of trust that others feel toward them. Here are the three elements.

Positive Relationships. Trust is in part based on the extent to which a leader is able to create positive relationships with other people and groups. To instill trust a leader must:

Stay in touch on the issues and concerns of others.

Balance results with concern for others.

Generate cooperation between others.

Resolve conflict with others.

Give honest feedback in a helpful way.

Good Judgement/Expertise. Another factor in whether people trust a leader is the extent to which a leader is well-informed and knowledgeable. They must understand the technical aspects of the work as well as have a depth of experience. This means:

They use good judgement when making decisions.

Others trust their ideas and opinions.

Others seek after their opinions.

Their knowledge and expertise make an important contribution to achieving results.

Can anticipate and respond quickly to problems.

Consistency. The final element of trust is the extent to which leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do. People rate a leader high in trust if they:

Are a role model and set a good example.

Walk the talk.

Honor commitments and keep promises.

Follow through on commitments.

Are willing to go above and beyond what needs to be done.

We wanted to understand how these three elements interacted to create the likelihood that people would trust a leader. We created three indices for each element and since we had such a large dataset, we experimented with how performance on each of the dimensions impacted the overall trust score. In our study we found that if a leader scored at or above the 60th percentile on all three factors, their overall trust score was at the 80th percentile.

We compared high scores (above 60th percentile) and low scores (below the 40th percentile) to examine the impact these had on the three elements that enabled trust. Note that these levels are not extremely high or low. Basically, they are 10 percentile points above and below the norm. This is important because it means that being just above average on these skills can have a profound positive effect and, conversely, just being below average can destroy trust.

We also found that level of trust is highly correlated with how people rate a leader’s overall leadership effectiveness. It has the strongest impact on the direct reports’ and peer overall ratings. The manager’s ratings and the engagement ratings were not as highly correlated, but all the differences are statistically significant.

Do You Need All Three Elements of Trust?

We were also curious to know if leaders needed to be skilled in all three elements to generate a high level of trust and whether any one element had the most significant impact on the trust rating. To gauge this, we created an experiment where we separated leaders into high and low levels on each of the three pillars and then measured the level of trust.

Intuitively we thought that consistency would be the most important element. Saying one thing and doing another seems like it would hurt trust the most. While our analysis showed that inconsistency does have a negative impact (trust went down 17 points), it was relationships that had the most substantial impact. When relationships were low and both judgment and consistency were high, trust went down 33 points. This may be because many leaders are seen as occasionally inconsistent. We all intend to do things that don’t get done, but once a relationship is damaged or if it was never formed in the first place, it’s difficult for people to trust.

We often tell people that they don’t need to be perfect to be an excellent leader but when it comes to trust, all three of these elements need to be above average. Remember that, in our analysis, we set the bar fairly low: at the 60th percentile. This is not a brilliant level of performance, barely above average.

We have regularly found in our research that if a leader has a preference for a particular skill, they are more likely to perform better at it. Think about which of these elements of trust you have a stronger preference for – and which you prefer least. Because you need to be above average on each, it is probably worth your time to focus on improving the latter.

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Why You Should Work Less and Spend More Time on Hobbies

Gaetano DiNardi

February 07, 2019

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Tara Moore/Getty Images

As professionals around the world feel increasingly pressed for time, they’re giving up on things that matter to them. A recent HBR article noted that in surveys, most people “could name several activities, such as pursuing a hobby, that they’d like to have time for.”

This is more significant than it may sound, because it isn’t just individuals who are missing out. When people don’t have time for hobbies, businesses pay a price. Hobbies can make workers substantially better at their jobs. I know this from personal experience. I’ve always loved playing the guitar and composing. But just like workers everywhere, I can fall into the trap of feeling that I have no time to engage in it. As head of demand generation for Nextiva, I have enough on my plate to keep me busy around the clock. I can easily fall into the trap of the “72-hour workweek,” which takes into account time people spend connected to work on our phones outside of official work hours.

When I crash, there’s always the temptation to do something sedentary and mindless. It’s little surprise that watching TV is by far the most popular use of leisure time in the U.S. and tops the list elsewhere as well, including Germany and England.

But by spending time on music, I boost some of my most important workplace skills.

Creativity. To stand out and compete in today’s crowded and constantly changing business environment, organizations need new, innovative ideas that will rise above the noise. I’m tasked with constantly looking for new ways to attract attention from potential buyers. But coming up with a fully original idea can be difficult when your mind is filled with targets, metrics, and deadlines.

A creative hobby pulls you out of all that. Whether you’re a musician, artist, writer, or cook, you often start with a blank canvas in your mind. You simply think: What will I create that will evoke the emotion I’m going for?

It’s no surprise that by giving yourself this mental space, and focusing on feelings, you can reawaken your creativity. Neuroscientists have found that rational thought and emotions involve different parts of the brain. For the floodgates of creativity to open, both must be in play.

Perspective. One of the trickiest tasks in the creative process is thinking through how someone else would experience your idea. But in doing creative hobbies, people think that way all the time. A potter imagines how the recipient of a vase would respond to it. A mystery novelist considers whether an unsuspecting reader will be surprised by a plot twist.

When I take a break from work to go make music, I reconnect with that perspective. I keep thinking about how someone hearing my song for the first time might respond. I do all I can to see (or hear) the world through someone else’s eyes (or ears). Then, when I resume the work project, I take that mentality with me.

Confidence. When I face a tough challenge at work and feel stymied, I can start to question whether I’ll ever figure out a successful solution. It’s easy to lose creative confidence. But after an hour of shredding on the guitar, hitting notes perfectly, I’m feeling good. I can tell that my brain was craving that kind of satisfaction. And when I face that work project again, I bring the confidence with me.

It turns out people like me have been studied. In one study, researchers found that “creative activity was positively associated with recovery experiences (i.e., mastery, control, and relaxation) and performance‐related outcomes (i.e., job creativity and extra‐role behaviors).” In fact, they wrote, “Creative activity while away from work may be a leisure activity that provides employees essential resources to perform at a high level.”

So to my fellow professionals, I highly recommend taking some time to keep up your creative hobby. It doesn’t have to be long. A study found that spending 45 minutes making art helps boost someone’s confidence and ability to complete tasks.

I also suggest you encourage your business to celebrate employees’ hobbies. Zappos puts employee artwork up on its walls and encourages people to decorate their desks in whatever ways they wish. Some businesses hold talent shows. Even employees who may not have these kinds of talents should be encouraged to do something that feels creative and fun. Some CEOs spend time on their own hobbies, setting the right example.

And when you find a little time for a creative hobby break, make it guilt free. After all, when you do this, everyone stands to gain.

Gaetano DiNardi is the Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva.