The ROCC of Trust is Specific
Written By TotalTrust
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Too many articles recently talk about how someone is trustworthy because they “just know.” One reason we have been conducting research on trustworthy leaders and teams for 25+ years is that we really wanted to know how exactly leaders and teams build trust. What works; what doesn’t.  This can help us act more trustworthy ourselves as well as quickly observe who is or is not acting trustworthy with us.

One way we know we can trust someone is when they keep their promises. When they respond to our email; answer our phone call; show up on time, or follow-through on a commitment, we know we can trust someone. If you are not sure if you CAN trust someone, ask them for something and see if they follow-through. One of my students this fall was disappointed in his friends on his project team because they did not follow through as he asked them to and as they promised. When he asked why, they told him that it was a small project and didn’t really require their full effort. He was embarrassed when he shared this with me, but wanted me to know that he took the assignment seriously and was upset that his friends let him (and me) down. I reminded him that it was a lesson to us both: if people cannot commit and follow through on the little things, how do we know that they will do so on the big things?

We usually know quickly if someone is open and honest with us. Sooner, rather than later, half-truths are evident and lies are exposed. If you want to build trust with others, share information, be open to their ideas and not just yours. Don’t lie and deceive others, but tell them as much of the truth as you are allowed.


Do your job to the best of your ability.  This may sound simple, but your colleagues look for you to do your job well so that they can do theirs well, too.  This includes putting forth your best effort, aiming to be the best at what you do, and always striving to be better at your job.  When you strive for excellence, it inspires trust and confidence in you and your abilities.


So many employees say that they want a manager that cares about them.  Many diminish this and think it is not as important as the other parts of the ROC, but this last aspect of trust is critical.  People will go above and beyond if they think that you have their best interests at heart.  They will stay late, come in early, do extra work, travel on weekends, work on holidays, and put up with grumpy customers if you “have their back” and show that you care.  This can include listening when they need it, helping out when they are overwhelmed, or just asking how they are when it looks like they might be having a hard day.


Based on our strengths, we all build trust starting with a different aspect of trust: Aneil is an extravert, so he prefers openness (no surprise!) and competence. Karen, on the other hand, is an introvert, so she starts with reliability and compassion. Both of us end up at the ROCC, but start from different places.