What if you could measure trust? If you could put a number on the degree of trust in a relationship, perhaps you could then see the areas you could adjust and improve. It seems to me that would be a valuable insight for leaders and managers everywhere.

Consultants Maister, Green and Galford in The Trusted Advisor use the four components of trust to provide a concrete measurement tool they call the “Trust Equation”:

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy
Self-Orientation

Let’s measure one of your work relationships. Choose a subordinate or team member—someone you deal with on a regular basis.

  1. Give each factor at the top of the equation—credibility, reliability and intimacy—a rating from 1 (low) to 10 (high). Ask yourself:
  • How much credibility do you have with this person?
  • How much reliability is there between you?
  • How close, open and honest are you with each other?

Add up the three numbers.

  1. Next, rate your degree of self-orientation (how much of yourself you insert into your conversations) from 1 to 10. Factor in the following criteria:
  • Are you basically self-oriented, focused on what you think and want from the relationship?
  • If you’re a direct supervisor, do you focus primarily on your expectations and desired results? If so, consider yourself highly self-oriented.
  • If your leadership style is coaching-oriented, your self-involvement is lower, as you encourage others to come up with solutions.
  1. Determine your total score by dividing the first (top) number by the second (bottom) number. According to the authors, a score of about “5” equates to a trustworthy relationship, while a score of about “1.25” would demonstrate low trust.

You can lower your level of self-orientation by increasing self-awareness. The more you understand your quirks and weaknesses, the better you can rein in your ego and focus on others.

Leaders who fail to gain subordinates’ trust will always struggle to be influential and inspirational. Focus on the four key components of trust, and measure your overall trustworthiness. Your score will clarify the action steps you must take to increase trust.

I’d love to hear from you about this after you’ve tried it. You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.