School of Business Affairs - October -2017 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | OCTOBER 2017 17 Most of us relate a high-trust relationship with a posi- tive, collaborative working environment. Colleagues enjoy working together, can achieve greater results, and have an overall brighter outlook about their jobs. Conversely, in a low-trust relationship, the individuals do not function well together, do not communicate effec- tively, and will not be able to achieve the same level of positive results for the department or organization. Even if your organization is not functioning as a well-oiled high- trust organization right now, it can be transformed over time. As leaders, we need to see the value of trusting rela- tionships and take the time to work within our area of control to build trust with all stakeholders. That is not a simple task, but it will lead to a high-level return on the investment of time and effort. Characteristics of High-Trust Leaders To build a high-trust relationship, leaders must dem- onstrate a high level of credibility. If others see us as individuals with integrity who are capable of completing the job and achieving results, we will be able to develop a level of trust that leads to positive outcomes. We must believe in ourselves and ensure that our daily actions display the characteristics that Covey associates with a high-trust leader: • Be straightforward—tell the truth with no hidden agenda. • Demonstrate respect—practice the Golden Rule. • Create transparency—do things in the open when possible. • Right wrongs—go the extra mile to make restitution. • Show loyalty—give credit to others and don’t talk behind someone’s back. • Deliver results—perform well. • Improve yourself—be a lifelong learner. • Confront reality—meet challenges head-on. • Clarify expectations—focus on a shared vision of suc- cess up front. • Practice accountability—take responsibility and expect others to do the same. • Listen first—don’t give advice without knowing the facts; listen to nonverbal communication well. • Keep commitments—make only those commitments that you can keep. • Extend trust—extend trust to those who earn it. We may not be able to say that we practice all of those actions daily, but demonstrating a commitment to being a high-trust leader and developing high-trust relationships will lead to a much more productive work- ing environment. Translating Trust into Cost We have all heard the old adage “Time is money.” Covey uses this concept to look at the quantitative (monetary) part of trust. When trust is low, the speed with which an organization produces results is low, and that translates to a higher cost. When trust is high, the organization is functioning at a high level of speed and that effectiveness results in a lower cost. Another way to look at this is in the monetary terms of taxes and dividends. Covey explains that a trust tax is an action that causes the organization to function ineffectively and costs the organization money. Examples of trust taxes include redundancy, bureaucracy, politics, disengagement, turn- over, and fraud. The existence of any of these “taxes” in an organization slows productivity and ultimately leads to an inefficient organization, costing stakeholders more money. A trust dividend describes the attributes of high- functioning organizations. Examples of trust dividends include increased stakeholder value, accelerated growth, enhanced innovation, improved collaboration, strong partnering, better execution, and heightened loyalty among staff members. Clearly, increasing the amount of trust dividends and decreasing the amount of trust taxes in an organization are invaluable to growth. How is your organization balancing the taxes and dividends related to trust? What are the economic implications of not building high-trust relationships? Leadership Here and Now In The Speed of Trust , Covey asserts, “The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust with all stake- holders—customers, business partners, investors, and coworkers—is the key leadership competency of the new global economy.” Even if your organization is not functioning as a well-oiled high-trust organization right now, it can be transformed over time. Even if trust has been broken in the past—within the district or within the community—it can be restored. It just takes time and commitment. References Covey, S. M. R. 2006. The speed of trust: The one thing that changes everything . New York: Free Press. Helliwell, J., and H. Huang. 2011. Well-being and trust in the workplace. Journal of Happiness Studies 12 (5): 747–67. Sandra M. Edling, MBA, PRSBA, is assistant director, Office of Business Services, Montgomery County Intermediate Unit #23, Norristown, Pennsylvania. Email: