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I know it will happen. I’m certain. It’s nothing to do with trust.


Trust requires uncertainty. I trust that you will help me, because you have always done so, but I’m not absolutely sure that you will next time. I hope. I’m a bit uncertain, maybe. But I trust you.


Trust is one of these acquired management concepts we mess about with. Here we have a few things that I suggest we need to know about trust:


  1. Trust is not linear. It’s one of the least linear things we have in organizations. It may take extraordinary efforts to reach a level of trust with an individual, group, a system, a company and, then, a relatively minor breach could get the whole thing down. It’s unfair. Non-linearity is always unfair. Small things create big things. Big things create small things. It’s messy, like life itself, the mother of all non-linear realities.


  1. Trust is inevitably linked to promises. You keep your promises, my trust will grow almost inevitably. You said you would do something for me, or for everybody, and you do, all the time, or most of the time, trust will grow. ‘Keeping promises’ is a very recurrent theme in our Viral Change™ programmes as a behavioural currency that needs to scale up. ‘Keeping promises’ touches so many other things that, as a behavioural unit, is a little bit of a magic bullet.


  1. Trust and vulnerability are sisters. If I made myself vulnerable by acknowledging a mistake, by saying that I don’t know, by declaring my lack of control, trust grows. I’m making myself more human, more accessible. But also I’m inviting you to do the same, I’m telling you that you can also tell me that you made a mistake, that you don’t know, or that you are in a messy type of thinking, and I will not hold it against you. You will not be penalised; you will not be labelled as weak or a muddled thinker. That is an intrinsic problem with performance management systems in organizations. We proclaim that it’s safe to make mistakes, but usually we don’t reward this. Despite the wonderful music coming from leadership, who has perhaps learned to say the right thing but not necessarily practise it.


The trouble with the latter is that we have mistaken that kind of vulnerability with exposure of our entire self for external consumption. The industry of expressing, sharing, venting, putting it on the table, feelings and emotions, very often done for the sake of it because it’s the politically correct thing to do, has not created more trust. It has created massive exhibitionism.


Instagramming our soul does not necessarily make us better human beings, inducers of trust or promoters of freedom. Most soul exhibitionism, which has gathered pandemic proportions with the selfie culture, depletes our inner self on behalf of flawed ideas of openness, honesty or transparency. We have become so transparent that anything can get through us like a penetrating sunbeam. The solidity of our soul has melted it in the air.  The late John O’Donohue expressed it beautifully when pairing ‘the sacred and the secret’. There is not much sacred left these days.


It always surprises me that people who are very proud of ‘controlling their boundaries’, seem to be the most prone to Instagramming about the quality of their cereals over breakfast, and Facebooking to the world with party pictures that regrettably they never delete.


I am digressing here, but when people tweet pictures of themselves on their own, with a beautiful sunset, holding a glass of wine, with the assertion ‘here I am with my solitude, enjoying beauty on my own, look at me, how profound and spiritual my being is’, I always wonder who takes those shots . Angels? But this is a conversation for another day.


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The Myths of Management


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