October 7, 2022
Podcast from

Use The Trust Equation - To Grow

We can all grow in trust. If we use trust equation — the factors that make up trust — we can break down barriers to trust. Join Howard and Carter as they discuss some very specific scenarios about how to evaluate the trustworthiness of others and grow in trust as leaders.

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Audio Transcript

Trust is essential for all of life, especially business, and there is an equation for trust: trust = integrity x competency / risk.

When evaluating someone’s trustworthiness, does it really matter whether they are lacking in integrity or competency — since the result is the same?

What are some cases in the workplace where the relevancy and truth of this equation are most clear?

How do we grow in our integrity and competence, and how can we help others grow as well?

Should Christians extend trust differently than people who are not Christian?

This equation, trust = integrity x competency / risk, comes from the chair of the marketing program at Emory, Jagdish Sheth, in a book called Clients For Life. Over the years, this equation has helped me trust people more, and helped me become more trustworthy.

The first question — whether it matters if the cause is integrity or competency — really does matter. For example, we are quick to trust the integrity of a child, but they are wholly incompetent.

In business lack of integrity is a deal killer. If integrity is off, it's hard to work on competence. And, if integrity is zero, the whole thing is zero, and the same is true if competence is zero. However, everyone has some competence, and if someone has integrity, it is more likely that they can grow in their competence.

A critically important thing to know is that a problem can present itself as an integrity problem and actually be a competence issue. We see this often in work. For example, when you are working on a project with someone and they continually cannot deliver it is easy to assume they lack integrity, but when you ask them why they cannot deliver, you may discover that they did not get good instruction. Maybe they have never done this before or they don’t know how to ask good questions.

This can play out at the highest levels of leadership. For example, an executive leader could default to using different messaging to different stakeholder groups. The variations in messaging could lead the stakeholder groups to sense that the leader is lacking in integrity when the cause could actually be that he is incompetent in consistently communicating a message across stakeholder groups. The mission and vision should be clear across groups and if it is not, there might be a competency problem.

Christians should approach trust differently from people who are not Christian because if you follow Jesus, all your sin and mistakes are covered. With whatever happens, it's going to be ok. If you know this and act like it, your integrity will be different.

A Christian knows their integrity is not perfect — not even close. And, because of this recognition, we should be able to extend more grace to people when their competency or integrity is lacking.

Followers of Jesus should approach every situation knowing they are not perfect and believing the best about the other person — that the situation can get better.

Our focus should also be on improving our competency and integrity, and helping others grow as well.

When we encounter integrity and competency issues, we must confront the other person. Have a conversation about what the problem is. If they cannot make it to work on time, maybe suggest getting an alarm clock — a really loud one. Once the competence issue of not waking up on time is eliminated as a cause, it may be appropriate to consider whether there is an integrity issue.

When people are asked to define integrity, they point to whether the person does what they say they will do. Do their actions match their words? The standard and model of integrity is Jesus Christ. In John 10:11 we read, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Integrity cost Jesus everything. It cost the Father His Son. It cost the Son His life. He was beaten, mocked, and was delivered over to death — even death on a cross.

This is what Jesus’ integrity teaches us: you cannot have integrity and have it not cost you something. Integrity is sometimes going to cost you money, pride, influence, etc. And, if you lose those things, you will discover it was never about money to begin with.

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Howard Graham
Howard Graham
Executive Director

Audio Transcript

Trust is essential for all of life, especially business, and there is an equation for trust: trust = integrity x competency / risk.

When evaluating someone’s trustworthiness, does it really matter whether they are lacking in integrity or competency — since the result is the same?

What are some cases in the workplace where the relevancy and truth of this equation are most clear?

How do we grow in our integrity and competence, and how can we help others grow as well?

Should Christians extend trust differently than people who are not Christian?

This equation, trust = integrity x competency / risk, comes from the chair of the marketing program at Emory, Jagdish Sheth, in a book called Clients For Life. Over the years, this equation has helped me trust people more, and helped me become more trustworthy.

The first question — whether it matters if the cause is integrity or competency — really does matter. For example, we are quick to trust the integrity of a child, but they are wholly incompetent.

In business lack of integrity is a deal killer. If integrity is off, it's hard to work on competence. And, if integrity is zero, the whole thing is zero, and the same is true if competence is zero. However, everyone has some competence, and if someone has integrity, it is more likely that they can grow in their competence.

A critically important thing to know is that a problem can present itself as an integrity problem and actually be a competence issue. We see this often in work. For example, when you are working on a project with someone and they continually cannot deliver it is easy to assume they lack integrity, but when you ask them why they cannot deliver, you may discover that they did not get good instruction. Maybe they have never done this before or they don’t know how to ask good questions.

This can play out at the highest levels of leadership. For example, an executive leader could default to using different messaging to different stakeholder groups. The variations in messaging could lead the stakeholder groups to sense that the leader is lacking in integrity when the cause could actually be that he is incompetent in consistently communicating a message across stakeholder groups. The mission and vision should be clear across groups and if it is not, there might be a competency problem.

Christians should approach trust differently from people who are not Christian because if you follow Jesus, all your sin and mistakes are covered. With whatever happens, it's going to be ok. If you know this and act like it, your integrity will be different.

A Christian knows their integrity is not perfect — not even close. And, because of this recognition, we should be able to extend more grace to people when their competency or integrity is lacking.

Followers of Jesus should approach every situation knowing they are not perfect and believing the best about the other person — that the situation can get better.

Our focus should also be on improving our competency and integrity, and helping others grow as well.

When we encounter integrity and competency issues, we must confront the other person. Have a conversation about what the problem is. If they cannot make it to work on time, maybe suggest getting an alarm clock — a really loud one. Once the competence issue of not waking up on time is eliminated as a cause, it may be appropriate to consider whether there is an integrity issue.

When people are asked to define integrity, they point to whether the person does what they say they will do. Do their actions match their words? The standard and model of integrity is Jesus Christ. In John 10:11 we read, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Integrity cost Jesus everything. It cost the Father His Son. It cost the Son His life. He was beaten, mocked, and was delivered over to death — even death on a cross.

This is what Jesus’ integrity teaches us: you cannot have integrity and have it not cost you something. Integrity is sometimes going to cost you money, pride, influence, etc. And, if you lose those things, you will discover it was never about money to begin with.

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