TrustTrust is like oil.  Its the stuff that makes relationships in and with IT work.  Without trust and credibility, IT goverance, project management, conflict resolution, career progression, etc. can happen, but are slower and have many issues.  Consider this. “With high trust, success comes faster, better and at a lower cost” says David Neeleman, Founder of JetBlue.  In IT organizations that are struggling, trust and credibility are the  most important habits for IT leaders (and staff) to build, improve and maintain.

Trust is difficult to build, remains fragile and can be lost.  Every struggling IT professional and/or organization has major problems in this area.  Some believe once trust is lost it can not be regained, but from my experience this is not true.  The best sources I used regarding trust and credibility are from Stephen R. Covey and his son Stephen M.R. Covey, and much of this blog is based on their work and my experiences using and mastering their concepts.

Trust is not just a touchy, feely concept.  It (interpersonal trust) is an attitude or state of mind that has been cultivated between people.  Consider this definition of trust from the Covey’s:

TRUST = One’s Character + One’s Competency

Trust between people is a combination of a person’s:

  •  Character – What you say/do, How you say/do, and  Why you say/do
  •  Competency -  What you can do, What you do, and What results you deliver

So why is competency required to build trust?  I thought you just needed to be a ‘good person’ – high character.  Let’s look at a doctor/patient relationship.  As a patient needing open heart surgery, would you trust a doctor that had good bed side manners and high personal integrity, but was in their first year as a cardiologist, and had never performed open heart surgery?  Partially, but if I was the patient, I want someone more accomplished (competent) to do the surgery.

People build trust by building ‘trust wealth’ in what the Covey’s call an ‘Emotional Bank Account’ (EBA).  As with any bank account, people can add to the account with deposits and reduce the account with withdrawals.  Here are just a few examples of deposits and withdrawals IT professionals make.


  • Deposits – Think Straight, Talk Straight; Listens to Understand; Manages Expectations; Work to Right Wrongs; Put Employees First, Then Customers, Then Stockholders; Promote Win/Win Decisions; Accountable for Mistakes
  • Withdrawals -  Show Disrespect; Listen to Respond; Not Trusting; Talk Behind People’s Backs; Avoid Conflict; Talks the Talk, Does Not Walk the Walk; Being Intolerant/Inflexible; Blame Others


  • Deposits – Keep Commitments by Under Promising and Over Delivering; Manage Risks; Solve Root Cause of  Problems; Promote Continuous Improvements; Admits When Wrong/Do Not Know; Manages Things and Leads People
  • Withdrawals -  Sell Poor Ideas; Does Not Understand the Business; Does Not Measure Success; Is Reactive versus Proactive; Does Not Align with Business; Poor Track Record

So how can you, somewhat objectively, measure your EBA with colleagues? I use the Trust Quotient:

TQ = EBA Deposits / (EBA Withdrawals * 2.5)

That’s right – withdrawals are more expensive than a single deposit.  You need 2 to 2.5 deposits to make up for a single withdrawal.


Do you have stories/experiences with trust in IT??


PS Check out HBR blog on Trust –


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