Relationships are built on trust. But how trustworthy are we? Is there a way to find out? And can trust be measured? Those are questions that David Maister, Charles M. Green and Rob Galford explored in their book, The Trusted Advisor.

Trust may sometimes be perceived as a something a leader has or does not have. That’s partly true, but what Green has done is define trust as a being composed of four attributes: reliability, credibility, intimacy and self-Interest. The Trust Equation is:

( Reliability + Credibility + Intimacy ) / Self-Interest = Trustworthiness


The equation breaks down as follows:

C = credibility or the quality of being believed. The credentials we bring.

R = reliability or performing with a level of consistency that can be “counted on.”

I = intimacy or close familiarity; closeness. The ability to embrace emotional safety. The extent to which people can confide in us.

S-O = self-oriented or the amount of energy one focuses on her/him self.

(Maister, Green and Gaiford, 2001)

As the equation shows, anything that increases the numerators of Credibility (can we believe what you say?), Reliability (can we depend on your actions?), or Intimacy (do we feel safe sharing information with you?) can increase trust levels, while anything that increases the denominator Self-Interest (are you focused more on yourself than others?) will reduce trust. Thus, we maximize trust by increasing some combination of credibility, reliability, and intimacy, while reducing our self-interest (i.e., by focusing more on the people we’re serving, rather than ourselves).

Intimacy and Self-Interest are the two attributes impressed me most. Intimacy is about open, honest, humble, vulnerable. As a coach, you have to bring the intimacy to the atmosphere, which help reach the heart of others. Then the connection with others is easily built. Self-Interest is related with self-awareness. When being fully present, self-Interest automatically drops. When not being present, our mind is busy in thinking or imaging past or future. Are you aware of the state and thought? How long could we be in present state? How fast could we switch from self focused thinking to others focused thinking?

Trust is essential to developing relationships with individuals. Leaders who cannot inspire trust cannot lead; there will be no followership. So it is something not simply to value, but to practice. Every day!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.