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

An unexpected benefit of “leading by example”

Sometimes (possibly MOST of the time) the best way to lead is by example… for many reasons. Last Saturday, I took a few hours out of my schedule to do just that – and I was pleasantly surprised by what happened.

We’re actively working on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as one way that our corporate values can be demonstrated in the community. Our approach is not new or novel – we hope to “get employees actively involved in the community to provide help in tangible ways”. We’ve had several successful “events” including a gift of sewing machines to local ladies to help them earn additional income, and participation in a charity 10k run.

Saturday, I did something that I hadn’t yet done in Bangalore. I went to the park. Normally, my Saturdays are about “getting stuff done” during the day and spending some time with my lovely wife in the evening. I look forward to Saturdays because I get to “catch up” on things – and my schedule is very flexible… but I’ve never gone to the park.

This Saturday was different. I went to Cole’s Park to meet with friends from Pro-Vision Asia, an NGO that is dedicated to helping people who are physically or mentally challenged. Pro-Vision Asia had invited me and my colleagues from Moog to come to the park for a “play day” with children from the local neighborhood. We were to help lead some simple games and activities for the children. I also looked forward to meeting some new friends on the Pro-Vision Asia staff.

My friends Mehra, Mahesh, and Moonaswami from Pro-Vision Asia









When I arrived at the park, the children were already happily singing songs with Nancy, and two other Pro-Vision Asia leaders. Later, the children (and many of their mothers) heard a simple lesson on hygiene – how to keep from spreading flu and cold germs… and then we helped the children in small groups with a craft. It was great fun to help the kids and to see them just enjoying the simple craft – gluing colorful circles onto their “paper plate fish” – and just being kids. They were having fun with kids their age and creating something colorful – a high point in their weeks (which often alternate between big challenges and the mundane). Their enthusiasm was contagious.

Their enthusiasm is contagious…

I’m so glad that I went to the park on Saturday. I was privileged to do something for someone else. I went with no expectations – thinking that I should do this to “lead by example” – and hoping that I might help in some small way. However, from my small contribution, just spending an hour or two with the kids, I also received something. I came away with a smile – and some new friends. What a gift!


I re-learned something that we all know (but seem to forget)…

“When we give, not expecting anything in return, we are often surprised at the wonderful gifts that come our way.”

Leaders make everyone around them better…

Every one of us have the ability to lead in some way. It doesn’t matter if you lead a team or you just lead yourself. You have an effect on us, your colleagues, in the way you interact with us and the expectations that you have for us to succeed. You and I – all of us – have the opportunity to do our part – to help our colleagues succeed. That’s what great leaders do. They make everyone around them “better”. In his book “True North”, Bill George said “Authentic leaders not only inspire those around them, they empower them to step up and lead.”

Today, I’d encourage you to look for opportunities to help the rest of us to be better. As you do that, several things will happen: 1) You’ll open up new opportunities for positive communication and building trust, 2) You’ll find yourself seeing new possibilities for your colleagues – and for yourself, and 3) You will be helping your workplace to become an even better place to work.

How will you lead today?

Answering your questions about Aerospace as a career

Wednesday, I was privileged to host a Times of India live chat session on Aerospace Careers. The audience (1856 people attended) posed some great questions that explored not only the Aerospace business but also the impact that global economic and political climates have on the industry. We also discussed how to prepare for an Aerospace career and the positive outlook for careers in Aerospace and Defense in India.
There were some particularly good questions that touched on company culture, talent acquisition, and retention. The transcript of all these great questions is posted on the Times of India site. I hope you’ll enjoy the chat topics, as I did.

– Dave