Over the summer I had occasion to reflect on and formulate my very own theories of action for leadership. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority related in some way to communication and the art of working with others. My five favorites are:
- Care must be at the core of everything we do.
- Asking the right questions trumps having all the answers.
- Listening to people is an investment that takes time, energy and patience. And it is worth every minute.
- Show it, say it, mean it, own it.
- Details matter.
I believe strongly that all of these are important and overlap significantly.
Enter my first encounter with a book called The Thin Book of Trust by Charles Feltman. These sixty-three pages of remarkably precise and clear prose cut to the chase of the what and how of trust in the workplace. Reading this literally thin book felt like finally meeting a long lost relative in person.
So all these years that I’ve been trying to spread the gospel of active listening, using open questions and pausing to reflect, much of my message is really about enhancing one’s means of building trust. Feltman offers four distinctions of trust: Sincerity, Reliability, Competence and Care. He uses examples which are familiar and authentic. Each vignette resonates and brings a refreshing clarity to terms which we frequently (and often mistakenly) assume to be understood in our various relationships, not only at work. The text is punctuated by carefully crafted questions designed to stimulate the reader’s thinking on each topic in turn.
While I have read many, many self-help and business tomes over the last decade, I have rarely felt so fundamentally helped by one text. For the work that interests me most, this little gem of insight will become one of my new favorites to pass along. Don’t let this one get away. You will not be disappointed. Trust me.
Charles Feltman, The Thin Book of Trust, An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work. Bend, OR: Thin Book Publishing Co. 2009.