Which comes first – ‘Trust’ or ‘Trustworthy’?

I’m fortunate to work at Moog, an organization that identified TRUST as a foundational value more than 60 years ago. At the time, men like Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. (of MIT fame) and others focused on measuring productivity and improving profitability by INCREASED CONTROL of individuals in the work place. In stark contrast to the “command and control” approach that was in vogue, Bill Moog and his executive team built a culture of trust and mutual respect that has stood the test of time. The emphasis on trust at Moog, and the corresponding freedom (DECREASED CONTROL of individuals) that followed in the workplace, resulted in a company culture of trust that is a competitive advantage. Moog’s robust aerospace processes and the freedom to speak freely have been a cornerstone of our success – and an encouragement for people to trust and to be trustworthy. It’s not surprising that, decades later, Stephen Covey’s article “Thirteen Behaviors of a High Trust Leader” noted that “demonstrating trust in people actually encourages them to act in a trustworthy manner”. 


#13 – Demonstrate a propensity to trust. 

Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust.  Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.  Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, and character/competence of the people involved.  But have a propensity to trust.  Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.

“People ask me how I’ve had the interest and zeal to hang in there and do what I’ve done.  I say, ‘Because my father treated me with very stern discipline:  he trusted me.’  I’m stuck, I’ve got to see the trust through.  He trusted me.  I trust other people.  And they did the job.”

     – Robert Galvin, Jr., Former CEO, Motorola

“The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.”

     – Henry Stimson, U.S. Statesman

“I have found that by trusting people until they prove themselves unworthy of that trust, a lot more happens.”

     – Jim Burke, former CEO, Johnson & Johnson

These men are voicing strong support for a principle that I have also held for many years. But there are others who make an argument for more control versus more trust. Our experience at Moog is a clear example that demonstrating trust actually encourages us all to act in a trustworthy manner.

Do you have similar experiences that you’d like to share?. I’d love to hear from you.

– Dave

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