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The Currency of Trust in the Workplace

The Currency of Trust in the Workplace

There is an urgency in today’s world that defies the notion of patience as a virtue. Instead, it’s a missed opportunity. When so much is available with just a few clicks, the window between when we want something and when we get it has gotten exponentially smaller. This heightened accessibility creates massive efficiencies, but it comes with the expectation of instant gratification. The latter is a challenge for today’s workforce, who seeks new titles, compensation, and exposure to influential projects before they’ve genuinely earned it. Trust is what brings sustainable advancement within reach. While it requires an investment of precious time in a very fast world, successful careers demonstrate the return is high.

Cultivating trust calls us to be vulnerable in an environment that expects a certain level of polish. How can you be taken seriously as a professional or leader if you’re honest about your mistakes and failures? Because accountability reveals more integrity than self-preservation. It demonstrates a willingness to put the organization before yourself, to have tough conversations, to ask for help, and to receive constructive criticism. In the process, you’ll encourage others to do the same.

[Related: Why We Don't Admit We're Wrong]

Building trust doesn't take time because it’s complicated; it takes time because you need to establish a reliable pattern of behavior. Fortunately, you’re already equipped with all the tools you’ll need. Simple actions like paying attention, working hard, meaning what you say, and then repeating that process over again and again can affirm your dependability. This approach may afford minimal glamour and require maximum patience, but it carries a great deal of weight over time.

Genuine trust is both a long-term investment and a package deal. Once earned, you’re bound by certain unspoken expectations to proceed with care. That can take many shapes depending on the relationship and the circumstances. In the workplace, it can often manifest as discretion, kindness, candor, perspective, or follow through. It’s only fair to offer up these acts of service in exchange for something so valuable.

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If your colleagues can depend on you to act honorably, you’ve earned far more than trust. You’ve created advocates and gained access to new connections, critical brainpower, their best work, and their loyalty. On a global level, innovation and purpose can flourish in this environment, elevating individuals and organizations alike. It’s a mighty foundation on which to build a career and an equally powerful opportunity to help institutionalize humanity.

All of this amounts to a cost benefit analysis of trust. Being a trustworthy person is a choice, and there is risk involved on both sides. Without a foundation of trust, you are gambling with collaboration, personal growth, and a functional support system. Even the most intelligent and determined professionals would stumble without these in place. Still, to foster trust is to invite vulnerability and that tests our tolerance for transparency. The rewards, however, are undeniable. With patience and humility, we can develop connections that will transform our careers. And it will be well worth the wait.

[Related: How Childlike Transparency Should Guide Your Leadership Style]


Jennifer Johnson Scalzi is the founder and CEO of Calibrate Legal. She created Calibrate Legal after having countless conversations with law firm leaders about the obstacles they face in proving their contribution to their firm’s bottom line. Jennifer wanted to develop platforms and tools that would help those who have previously been labeled “non-lawyers” to redefine themselves as Revenue Enablers. When their mindset changes, the trajectory of their firms will change as well

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