20 years ago, the plant was a wreck, forgotten witness of the soviet era. Now, the local employees produce state of the art bio-technological products and the nearby research center, established 10 years later in connection with the University, has become the spearhead of its parent company, a North American family business, world leader in its industry. The local manager - she started back then as a purchasing clerk- is welcoming the guests coming from all parts of the world to Tallinn, Estonia where we are celebrating this joyful anniversary.
“Looking back”, says the CEO addressing the audience, “and trying to explain our incredible journey since we bought this plant two decades ago, I think that your success, our common success, comes mainly from this network of Trust patiently built over the years. After all, business is just about building a trust network: our customers trust us, we trust each other to do the job, we trust our suppliers to deliver their part, we trust our research partners, the universities, and they trust us. We are all trust makers, trust weavers. Over the years you have built this fantastic network of trust...that’s the real and full value of our company."
As I was listening to the CEO's speech, I could not help thinking that if he was brilliantly explaining the effect of Trust making, he was not unveiling the Trust making process itself and its obvious but overlooked secret, which may take a lifetime of trials and errors to figure out.
We all know that Trust is the bond which secures the conditions for co-creating great value: Trust triggers cooperation which in turn will combine competences and goodwill inside and outside the company to deliver unique customer value.
We also know that Trust will improve the probability of getting the expected result as it works as a risk reducer: while check and controls reduce uncertainty within complex processes, Trust reduces uncertainty between People: uncertainty spurred by continuous and unexpected change, by multiple internal and external interactions, by the mix of functions and cultures.
By reducing uncertainty, Trust is reducing fear and opens the joy of creating distinctive value.
But we often skip the "secret" source of Trust: mutual Respect.
Respect starts with acknowledging, sharing, including and nourishing each others' intentions and actions in a common project: there is no respect without full inclusion of all partners.
Inclusion. I feel that I am included when my drive for personal achievement is considered in the collective project, when I am not just a pawn being used by a dominating power. I feel that I have been included when, looking back, I can see what this network of Trust has helped me accomplish: dreams, ambitions, hopes.
But these dynamics are fragile.
Lacking respect means that you deny inclusion. Lacking respect develops mistrust, defiance, contempt; fear takes over the joy of creation, opening the vacuum of destructive production.
Respect is the real secret,
Trust its great by-product.
If you want to be a Trust Maker...
....as the CEO of this story.....start by leading with Respect!*
* a great book just published on this issue: Lead with Respect by Michael Ballé