In global organizations, establishing trust is essential. The authors of “Networked, Scaled, and Agile” explain that the secret to doing so is “conscious, purposeful, and informed effort.”

“High-trust, interpersonal working relationships are the foundation of organizations,” they write. “Trust is a motivator of discretionary effort. Trust and the social capital that comes from it is important glue that binds the organizational parts together.”

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Trust must seem like a “soft concept,” but it’s in fact the bedrock of agile and networked organization. 

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The 4 Cs of trust is a simple model that guides leaders to action that we’ve adapted from the work of Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995). It’s based on the premise that although people experience trust in different ways, there are behaviors that increase the likelihood of building trust over time:

  1. Commitment: You keep your promises. Not just once, but multiple times. In today’s competitive business environments, leaders who commit to clear outcomes and then deliver have a leg-up in building social capital and are rewarded for their efforts.
  2. Candor and consistency: You say what you mean and you respond with consistency. We’ve all witnessed someone express support for an idea in a meeting, only to later express cynicism in private. Those who speak courageously, even bluntly, and remain true to their views tend to have a positive balance in their “influence account.”
  3. Competence: You ensure that you and your team have the ability to deliver, and you have a track record of accomplishment. Nothing produces more confidence under fire than this one.
  4. Consideration: You take time to understand others’ objectives and convey, through dialogue, that you care about what keeps them up at night. In a networked organization, understanding the challenges that your colleagues are trying to manage is fundamental. Trust grows among teammates when you take the extra time to understand their interests and adjust accordingly.

Try out these behaviors to start building trust at scale.

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Michele DiMartino

Managing Director – Kates Kesler Organization Design, Accenture

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