In my previous article, I wrote that alliance success begins with having an alliance culture in your organisation, but what’s trust got to do with it? The short answer is everything!

Trust influences everything. Trust is essential in establishing successful relationships, after all that is what alliances are; relationships between organisations that are delivered successfully by the people involved and their personal relationships. This takes us to at least two levels of relationships and two levels of trust because it is difficult (if not impossible), to maintain a successful relationship with someone you mistrust. 

Trust should be considered an asset, it is an essential element of your company’s culture. A culture full of trust will enable a thriving organisation consisting of thriving alliances & partnerships. According to David Horsager in his book “The Trust Edge,” lack of trust is your biggest expense. It is your most precious resource but also the most fragile. When trust increases, results also increase while costs decrease. 

Trust looks like a simple concept, but it is not an easy one. There are many aspects to building and maintaining trust. As the saying goes, trust arrives on foot and leaves on horseback. In other words, building trust can be a time-consuming process, yet it can also be shattered in an instant through a breach of trust. Active intentional work is required to build, maintain and manage trust.

Erin Meyer points out in “The Culture Map”* that trust isn’t built, maintained and managed the same way everywhere in the world. She brings trust and culture together, on a scale varying from recognising task-based trust to relationship-based trust. Task-based trust “is built through business-related activities. Work relationships are built and dropped easily, based on the practicality of the situation.” Relationship-based trust, on the other side of the spectrum, “is built through sharing meals, evening drinks and visits to the coffee machine. Work relationships build-up slowly over the long-term.” Task-based trust can be found more in western countries, while when the scale leans to relation-based trust we see more of the “warmer” cultures on the list. Depending on where your company and your partner fall on this scale, you might need to adjust your approach to building trust with your partner.

In every case, trust begins with ourselves as our behaviour defines how trustworthy we are. Charles H. Green describes it in the trust equation. This equation makes trust measurable and is based on four variables, credibility, reliability, intimacy and self-interest. In the equation, the sum of credibility, reliability and intimacy is divided by self-interest. The more we focus on ourselves, the lower our trust quotient will be and a low trust quotient is similar to low trustworthiness.

Trust is the cornerstone for every successful relationship and therefore also for your alliance & partnership success. Start your trust-building journey with your own behaviour and be aware of those cultural differences!

What Have I Been Reading: The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything”* by Stephen M.R. Covey

Why Is It Relevant? Besides the aforementioned books, The SPEED of Trust is a great book to read, almost a classic that will help you to dive deeply into your understanding of building and maintaining trust.