Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Key to Speed is Trust

In his August 2012 blog post ASQ CEO Paul Borawski probes the issue of feelings in building a culture of quality noting that feelings drive loyalty and success. Paul asks what personal attributes you look for when hiring someone into your organization. While developing my response this month I serendipitously came across the following Lou Holtz quote in my Franklin Planner®, "Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it".  I recently hired two individuals into my organization. I place a great deal of emphasis and weight on the applicant's attitude. Competencies being equal, additional skills can be taught.

Simon Sinek ("Golden Circles") tells us that the lymbic brain is responsible for human emotions and feelings, like trust and loyalty; the lymbic brain is also responsible for all human behavior and controls our decision-making. Talent, passion, ethics and integrity are personal traits that I look for in the interview process.

Speaking of trust... trust must be earned and is absolutely required in order to build empowered, engaged employees and high performing teams. Trust is built on a foundation of mutual respect and dignity. Based on research spanning 10 million employees and 10 million customers around the globe, Gallup shows that organizations employing HumanSigma® management principles have outperformed their five largest competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth. In fact, companies that built this critical mass of employee engagement grew earnings per share (EPS) at 2.6 times the rate of companies that did not. HumanSigma changes how leaders view their work, their employees, and their customers.

So, if feelings - and trust - are so critical to building a culture of quality, how do leaders create a culture of accountability? In his book, The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey writes, "... in our flat world economy, the ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time. And the ability to exercise Smart Trust is a vital part of that competency".
The authentic leader is able to effectively communicate the organization's values and principles, possesses strong influencing and story-telling skills, and consistently and constantly models the desired behaviors. Systems and structures such as measurement, recognition and reward are implemented and institutionalized to shape mental models and motivate even greater performance. Joseph Grenny, author of Influencer, says that "true leadership is intentional influence". Influencing is about changing behavior. Motivation is a function of beliefs and personal mental models. The key to successfully effect change is to first identify whether the individual is morally asleep - unconscious of the implications of their behavior, morally deficient, or simply lacks the necessary ability.

Finally, what feelings do I associate with a quality culture? Joy in work. Pride in results. Sense of ownership and personal accountability. Freedom to choose one's own path. Respect from peers, colleagues, suppliers, customers, management and leadership.

If you're working to build a culture of quality in your organization, what attitudes do you believe support the success of a culture of quality? Are the personal attributes universal, or do they differ around the world?


  1. I agree, trust is a key ingredient. And what is required is a deep trust, not some feel good trust. It requires both belief you won't try and rip me off but also that you have the work ethic, abilities and systems to succeed. Trust isn't just that I like you, but I trust relying on you to deliver.

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