“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust! Then you can worry about the rest” (Seth Godin)
Bottom line, no matter how much data we have, no matter how we spin the story, we will be completely ineffective if we are not trusted.
And trust is not just about delivering what you say on time, or trusting your technical capabilities. Trust is an inherently emotional construct. To be effective, we must understand this and be intentional in developing trust.
Those who are not trusted will not succeed – no matter how good they are
I was once a category manager working with the top sales people in the company. I hired an analyst that had a fantastic background in sales. Unfortunately, he started by telling our sales team what they were doing wrong. He never established the trust that was needed to be heard. He became completely ineffective — and we had to make a change.
Over the years, I have had to let others go as well; some layoffs and some otherwise. In all cases, they were good researchers. In all cases, they had destroyed trust with their clients, their team, or both.
Trust is so important; we can’t just let it happen. So how do we do it?
Earn the right to be right
David Maister has written a fantastic book on the topic The Trusted Advisor. Maister coined the phrase “Earn the right to be right.” You may be right, but if you have not earned the right, it does not matter. You won’t be heard.
To earn the right to be right you need to first demonstrate that you are truly interested in helping; that you have the other person’s best interest at heart; that it’s not about you. But having that perspective is not enough. The client needs to know you have that perspective.
Maister also says “…the motive that generates the greatest trust is genuine caring.”
Are you truly trying to help the other person, or are you trying to demonstrate what a good analyst you are? Do you truly want the client to be successful; or do you simply want to move on to the next project? Are you more interested in your client advancing; or in you advancing?
But having this perspective is not enough. The client needs to believe it too. They need to know that you are truly on their side. It is then that we will have earned the right to be right. Then we can be much more effective and have a much more rewarding and successful relationship with that client. It is at that point when our voice will be truly heard.
After all, as Theodore Roosevelt once said “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Another fantastic resource is The Trusted Advisor Field Book by Green and Howe.
Next time I will talk a little more about building trust and offer some specific things we might do to earn it.
As always, feel free to comment. I’m interested in what you have to say.