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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

Even Google Comes Up With One Word - Trust

Yes, I'm akin to googling what I need to find. But I was a little surprised last week when I ran across an article about what Google studied for years and the conclusion it derived.

The question was - what is the single quality that contributed most to Google's success?

The answer? TRUST.

Now, I'm not surprised with the answer, as for as long as I've been in public education, key reference materials have focused on trust: The Speed of Trust (Stephen Covey), Building Trust at the Speed of Change (Edward Marshall), It's a Matter of Trust (Greg Lewin), Trust Matters (Megan Tschannen-Moran)...and the list goes on.

So what specifically did Google find?

Teams were more effective when members felt psychologically safe, based on whether they could take a risk and how others on that team felt with that level of risk-taking. It went further to explain that the risk-taking was predicated on the confidence that no one on the team would embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.

Kind of reminds me of my days at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field near Mountain View, California, a mere mile or so from Google worldwide headquarters. While at Ames, I learned about the trust that teams have, particularly after the issues with Apollo 13. Trying to get astronaut Fred Haise and his team back on terra firma meant there were no dumb questions and no wrong proposals until they could be ruled out.

What builds trust?

Listen. Listen. Listen. And then listen some more. By respecting how others think and feel, the empathy factor builds and the relationships deepen.

Show empathy. Okay, that probably started with the listening, but cognitive empathy (understanding others' perspectives) is a key way to start, build and strengthen trust.

Be helpful. We all need to be strong team members. That always means helping and supporting anyone and everyone.

Be an example. You don't have to be the know it all, but be the example of ethical, positive behavior with a true team spirit. Others will deepen their trust in you if they know you walk the walk.

Be real. Authenticity is much harder for some of us to arrive at, especially if we part of certain ethnic groups, gender, or age. But being true to who you are means people can rely on you to be genuine and following up, giving your word and sticking to your values.

Google had something in their study. Lots of lessons that can be translated to our teams at work and beyond. So, where are you going to start?

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