Friday, March 14, 2014

Competence and the Trust Meter



“I Don’t Trust You!!!!!”

  The other day in class I told my cadets that they could hear that from their superiors and/or subordinates when they arrive at their first unit after being commissioned as Army Officers.  My message to them was trust is earned, and until they demonstrate their competence, they will not be fully trusted as leaders.


I then introduced the concept of the "Trust Meter" and how competence is a critical component of trust. In his book, The Speed of Trust ,Stephen Covey writes "Trust is a function of two things: Character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive, your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, your results, your track record. And both are vital."


I explained that when new leaders arrive at a unit; the trust meter is hovering right around "empty."  Unless they have previously established reputations and relationships then there is no basis for trust. Leaders have to do something every single day that moves them closer to being "full" on the meter. Over time and through shared experiences, they will demonstrate their competence and effectiveness.

Leadership Counts!!!

NOTE: The idea to use the "Trust Meter" concept in class and write this post came after hearing COL John O’Grady’s remarks on trust and competence during a Leader Professional Development (LPD) session LTC Pete Kilner and I facilitated for his brigade. Read more here

Jonathan Silk is a Major in the U.S. Army. He has served as a Cavalry Scout platoon leader , and has commanded both a Tank Company and an Infantry Company. He is currently an Academic Instructor and serving as the Operations Officer for the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development andOrganizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was a recipient of the calendar year 2009 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.

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