The 10 Laws of Trust

Building the Bonds That Make a Business Great

The 10 Laws of Trust

Author: Joel Peterson
Pub Date: May 2016
Print Edition: $15.95
Print ISBN: 9780814437452
Page Count: 128
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814437469

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I lack the paranoia gene. Despite the prescriptions in any number of manuals on management advice dating to Machiavelli, I’m naturally inclined to trust other people: I expect others to be trustworthy and I’m predisposed to trust that people will do what they say they’ll do.

My life is a testament to the power of trust – as board chairman, teacher, real-estate entrepreneur, growth-capital investor, father of seven, and spouse of 44 years. My parents trusted me; my wife believed I’d figure things out long before I actually had; my early partners granted me independence based on little more than instinct. These high-trust relationships changed my life and allowed me to achieve far more than my natural abilities would have predicted. And I’ve accomplished much more by trusting others than I’d ever have achieved through wariness.

Indeed, I’ve learned that to trust means taking a leap of faith – a necessary part of giving over control to another. Through sad experience, I’m now better at selecting whom to trust and at insisting on establishing a culture in which trust can flourish. I’ve come to appreciate that it’s a dynamic process, with rules that must be maintained, with results that must be authenticated, and with breaches that may need repair. But I’m no Pollyanna – I recognize that one cannot eliminate the possibility of peril. Trust inescapably contemplates risk.

So, why trust? Because it works, most of the time. Not only do people accomplish more in a collaborative spirit when seeking win-win outcomes than when setting up the paraphernalia of paranoia, but they’re simply much happier when dealing in a world of harmony and cooperation.

When it comes to building great companies, a leader’s job isn’t to make it to the top of the mountain alone. Instead, the task is to help others reach peaks they want to climb but might not be able to without the help of a leader. I’ve found that reaching for the highest summits typically leaves little time for mistrust or exhaustive reliance on compliance manuals. Entrepreneurs may be criticized for having insufficient controls in place, or trusting partners too readily. Maybe so in some instances. But the cost of the alternative can be much higher: Ever-present suspicion, double-riveted legal agreements, caution and caginess in interpersonal dealings – the touchstones of mistrust – can slow things down, drive away the most trustworthy people, and inhibit innovation. High-trust ventures, on the other hand, require team members, like climbers attempting a technical ascent, to be belayed, dependent on each other to reach the summit together. Experiencing that kind of trust is truly exhilarating.

The goals of this book are to: 1) examine what trust is, 2) present methods for harnessing it, and 3) consider how to restore trust or recover from its breach. After half a century of living a life devoted to leadership, I hope the 10 Laws of Trust that follow will help readers to build organizations with higher trust, as well as to become happier, more optimistic and more successful themselves.

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