“Self-trust is the first secret of success…the essence of heroism.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Stephen Covey (Stephen R. Covey’s son) illustrates the 5 Waves of Trust model in his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything through a wave metaphor for how trust operates in our professional and personal lives. Trust is important in our relationships, our organizations and our world. The trust model presented in this book aligns with Servant Leadership as it is an inside-out approach to harness trust with ourselves and then extend that trust to others. Indeed, Servant Leaders know that to be successful, one must lead from within.
Servant Leaders understand that self-trust is the foundational principle to building credibility. Covey argues that there are four core elements that help to increase credibility; two of the core elements are related to competence and the other two are related to character. Let us look at these four core elements in detail.
The 4 Cores
Core 1: Integrity (Character)
Integrity is related to honesty. While honesty is important, integrity is about integratedness or congruency. Being congruent, in balance, with yourself inside and out is a key element of integrity. Congruence is not compliance. Servant leaders realize that leaders who are congruent act in harmony with their values and beliefs. They walk the walk and talk the talk. There is a synergy that exists and these leaders listen, operate and respond from a higher level of consciousness. More than that, integrity involve humility. A humble person is concerned about what is right, rather than being right. They act on good ideas and are not worried about having the first idea, and they recognize good work rather than being recognized for good work. We must not confuse this type of inner consciousness with being weak or reticent. In fact, leading from this place allows Servant Leaders to stand firm in principle, negotiate fiercely, drive a good bargain, and express themselves in firm and clear ways. Finally, humble leaders always remember that they stand on the shoulders of those who gone before them, and they respect and honor this fact.
Core 2: Intent (Character)
Intent is related to one’s plan or purpose. One’s intentions is directly related motive, agenda, and behavior. Servant Leaders know that motives that inspire the greatest trust is caring. Caring about people, purposes, the quality of your leadership, and caring about the world is paramount. Leaders that care understand the declaring your intent and expressing your agenda and motives can be very powerful and meaningful. This is especially true if your behavior or decisions are being questioned or misrepresented by others. Declaring your intent is valuable when establishing trust in new relationships.
Core 3: Capabilities (Competence)
Servant Leaders are capable of establishing, growing, extending, and restoring trust through the way they use their talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge and style. Capabilities are the means by which Servant Leaders produce results and perform with excellence. Moreover, capability is vital to one’s credibility- both personally and organizationally. Capable people are credible. They inspire trust. It’s just that simple. It would be disastrous if a Servant Leader had all three of the other core elements and lacked capability.
Core 4: Results (Competence)
Craig Weatherup, former CEO of Pepsico said, “You can’t create a high-trust culture unless people perform.” Results are directly tied to a Servant Leader’s credibility. Results have the ability to help a leader establish and maintain trust. Results bring a type pf clout that says you are a producer and a performer. Nothing proves Servant Leadership better than great results! But we must be careful in pushing for results, and forget that integrity is equally important. Leaders who live with values and integrity but achieve low results can be trained, coached, and moved to another role. But, the harder pill to swallow is if a leader produces high results but lives by poor values.
Servant Leaders are clear that employees and followers notice the 4 Cores in your daily work and personal life. They understand that credibility is crucial, and understanding and living by the 4 Cores brings conscious competence that, in the end, enhances trust in the people and the organization.