Truthiness and Trust in Your Organization:  Third in a Series on Trust


Today’s “word of the day” is: Truthiness. Can you say truthiness? The definition of truthiness is the quality of stating concepts or ideas one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts. So why am I offering up a vocabulary lesson to you today? Keep reading and I think you will see the relevance of this “new” word. If you, your team, and/or your organization do not have, have never had, and do not anticipate ever having any issues with trust, then you are excused from class today, can stop reading now, and can go to recess.

So, now let’s get serious for a moment. Can trust be built on a foundation of truthiness—i.e., what we want to be true vs. what the facts say is true? What can you as a leader start doing to build or rebuild a strong foundation of trust on your team or in your organization? The simple and obvious answer is: tell the truth--the truth based on facts, not what you want to be true! Regardless of whether the trust chasm in your organization is the Grand Canyon or a small ravine, the same basic principles apply in how you as a leader can create a corporate culture and climate of trust. It all starts with you, so let’s start there.

Answer these questions: True or False

“I believe that I have integrity—that I tell the truth most, if not all, the time”

“I am someone others can, and do, trust”

You probably answered “True” to both questions. If you answered false, it’s like admitting you have some kind of a character flaw. Nobody wants to admit they have a character flaw! Now ask yourself, how would others answer those same two questions about you—true, false, maybe, sometimes, it depends, etc? What would they base their answer on? Would they tell you the truth about your truth telling? This is getting complicated!

In order for others to trust you and for you to create a climate of trust on your team and in your organization, you must first trust yourself. Are you on your list of people that you trust? Like Covey, I believe that trust is a function of character and therefore is something that is at the core of who you are and how you live your life. I believe that somewhere along the line you made a choice as to whether or not you would live a life of integrity. This was a choice you probably made pretty early in your life—so at this point in your life, it’s pretty deeply engrained. You may be quite happy and content with the choices you have made. But as is true of all choices, you can make new ones and amend old ones.

Here are seven things you can choose to start doing right now to build your own personal self-trust and subsequently increase your integrity with others, whether they be colleagues, bosses, family, or friends.

  1. Start by making being open, honest, candid, and authentic in each and every interaction you have with others (boss, peer, direct report, family member, or friend) a daily goal.

  2. Make and keep commitments to yourself. It is difficult to keep commitments to others if you can’t keep them to yourself. Walk your talk.

  3. Pay attention to your own intentions and behavior and whether or not they are consistent. Enhancing your own personal self-awareness by paying attention is a prerequisite for making changes within yourself. For example, if you want to become a person known for integrity and positive intentions, you must start by being willing to look inward at your motives and intentions.

  4. Notice those times that there may be gaps between your behavior and your intentions—when you are not acting congruently with your values. If and when that does happen, make a note of the impact that it has on you and others—write it down and learn from it.

  5. Live each day in accordance with your personal values. Make sure that on your list of your personal values that integrity is near the top. For me it’s always helpful to keep that list of personal values in front of me every day.

  6. This may not be for everyone, but if you are into journaling, start paying attention to your personal acts of integrity and write them down.

  7. And finally, remember this: when you wish or believe something to be true, but it’s not consistent with the facts, you are merely deceiving yourself and probably not fooling anyone else. That is “truthiness” in action!

Let me know how these seven suggestions work for you.

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