Trust is the foundation of all cooperative enterprise;
and integrity is the basis of all trust.
Alliance managers see integrity as the ability and commitment to honor one’s word,
especially during times of adversity and often regardless of personal cost. For Gerry Dehkes, an alliance champion at Lucent, “Integrity includes setting expectations and consistently meeting them. Doing both is important. Making sure that your counterparts will know (and be able to trust) that you will act in a certain way in a given situation.
Then meet or beat that expectation consistently. This extends beyond the individual to the rest of the people in the alliance partners organizations. Or better, in an old
Minnesota expression; ‘Under-promise. Over-deliver.’ View problems or barriers, especially early on, as opportunities to show your trustworthiness, meeting the expectations you've set with your partners. These have strong impact beyond the decision of the moment. They engender trust that later on you will indeed act that way, thus inviting reciprocal actions.”
Alliance champions are the principals who set the tone for building the trust that forms
the foundation for the chemistry and culture of the trans-organizational interaction.
Every experienced alliance leader will comment on how trust is an essential ingredient of cooperation. Without it the venture will crumble, disputes will go unresolved, and passion will wane. Outsiders tend to describe trust as great chemistry, others see it as honesty. But champions tend to know that the trust they create, often internationally across wide cultural chasms, is based more on integrity than any other factor.
When trust collapses, communication is either halted or turns to threats, blaming, and
accusations, and at the same time decision making becomes focused on protection and
defense, not on innovation and creativity. Forward progress slows to a snail’s pace, or
worse, reverses. The champion who builds trust has a powerful advantage, because when analyzed in detail, that trust is shown to be simultaneously the glue that holds teams together during times of crisis and the grease that smoothes over rough interactions when cultures clash.
Brian Ferrar, alliance champion at Compaq recognizes how this bonding impacts the
relationship between champions: “An alliance manager and his counterpart at the partner company are often closer than each may be to many of their co-workers because of the trust it takes to form the alliance.” However, this bonding across organizational boundaries can be quite disconcerting to many insiders who see this as a serious breach of loyalty.
How does the alliance champion build this trust?
Some lessons from the field exemplify how such trust is created (see below):
TOP TRUST DESTROYERS:
Act Inconsistently in what they say and do 69%
Seek Personal Gain above Shared Gain 41%
Withhold Information 34%
Lie or Tell Half Truths 33%
Be Closed Minded 29%
Be Disrespectful to Employees 28%
Withhold Support 16%
Break Promises 14%
Betray Confidences 13%
TOP TRUST CREATORS:
Maintain Integrity 58%
Openly Communicate Vision & Values 51%
Show Respect as Equal Partners 47%
Focus on Shared Goals not Personal Agendas 38%
Do the Right Thing Regardless of Personal Risk 36%
Listen with an Open Mind 33%
Demonstrate Caring Compassion 22%
Maintain Confidences 15%
*Source: Manchester Consulting, 1997 – survey of executives at 215 companies
Building trust starts and is maintained at the highest leadership positions.
If leaders do not forge the bond of trust, it is highly unlikely to be found within the middle echelons.
Coincidentally, there is a very high correlation between trust, relationships, and control.
As trust and relationships increase, the needs for command and control diminish, replaced by coordinative interaction. This matters to leaders as they face today’s compression of time and increase in speed, which force faster decision making, and today’s complex interrelationships which force slower decision making. Knowing how to manage this dilemma and balance these forces requires adroitness and a deep level of trust.
Is the creation of high trust worth the effort?
Successful alliances provide very strong evidence that high trust is the catalyst of very high performance, greater innovation, creativity, synergy, expansion of possibilities, enhanced problem resolution, faster action and implementation, lower litigation costs, and lower transaction costs. These all result in dramatically improved financial performance. Corporations cannot afford to forsake the champion’s role in developing trust across organizational boundaries.