The Culture Factor of Trust

Learning something unique from the participants who attend my seminars is the best part of the work I do. I get to see and experience the world through their eyes. In my recent seminar in Chapala, Mexico we explored the Three Pillars of Trust. This is a powerful module in which we unlock the anatomy of Trust and translate it into practical and pragmatic behavior.

Here is a learning that surfaced in our discussions.  Managers in Mexico shared with me that from their perspective, Latin America is more communal and family oriented than the United States. Therefore, it’s harder for people to trust each other. It sounds counter intuitive but here is how they explain this phenomenon. The US culture promotes independence and individualism where it is clear that each person is in what they do for their own good.  The greater the independence the more critical it is to develop trustful terms of engagement. Developing a culture of trust is in the highest self interest of the individual to be able to transact business and to enable collaboration.

The Latin American culture is not ready to support such independence. The family value structure is strong and the communal bond has great prominence. The inverse (or shadow) side of this is that people are more likely to second guess, distrust and try to manage each other. “The people in logistics try to tell the finance people how to do their job; the finance people try to tell supply chain people how to do their job; supply chain tries to tell marketing how to do their job; marketing tries to tell logistics how to do their job…” and on it goes, instead of trusting that everybody knows their job best and are doing their utmost.

Further, inefficiency, wasted time, bad service, blame and confusion are often the consistent byproducts of lack of trust. As decisions are often being challenged and have to be explained or justified, the workload for all is doubled, more obstacles are placed between deciding and taking action and it takes twice as long to arrive at the desired outcome.

What is the insight about the culture factor of trust? The higher you climb on the development spiral of society and culture the greater the independence and with it the level of trust.

What culture do you work in? Is it trusting or lacking trust? There is no greater multiplier for teamwork effectiveness and speed than a high level of trust. Building a culture of trust in your organization is the transformational key to your competitive advantage and success.

© Aviv Shahar

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