A Formula for Strategic Relationships

Trust is the foundation of successful business (and personal) relationships. When trust is present, information flows more readily, people are more receptive to new ideas and everyone receives more honest feedback.

While trust is an emotional response, there are formulae to create and maintain trust. I like the one offered by Charles H. Green, co-author of “The Trusted Adviser.”

(Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy)/Self-orientation

Credibility: We build credibility with our credentials, professional experience, presence, business judgement and financial acumen. We also demonstrate credibility by answering questions directly and succinctly offering our opinions and insights.

Reliability: We build reliability when people know they can count on us to make and keep commitments, respond promptly and show consistency in our actions and attitudes.

Intimacy: The authors use this term to mean connectedness, empathy and discretion. Intimacy engenders relationships where people share what is most important to them. Candor with respect grows intimacy.

Self-orientation: Being in the denominator, self-orientation works in reverse. To build trust, people need to believe that you are motivated by the best interests of the organization and people. That means being unselfish. It also means being calm, not preoccupied or self-secure. These qualities help you be perceived as objective, without a personal agenda.

Trust is, however, a binary dynamic. The first is trustworthiness, the one being trusted. The other dynamic is the person doing the trusting and taking the risks. It may be obvious that others take risk in trusting us. It may be less obvious that we have to show that we trust them as well.

What are the dynamics of your strategic relationships?

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