Trust is not Binary

I read this post in Dan Rockwell’s Leadership Freak blog and it aggravated me.  

I agree with Bob that trust is given, not earned, but distrust is often earned.  Trust isn’t merely given, it is needed.  I have to trust.  I can’t function without it.  It’s a matter of how much.  Do I trust you enough?

Problem is, trust has no unit.  There is no measure.  So it feels binary, because the line is enough.  But different situations require different measures of trust. 

Then there are aspects of the person we are trusting… Judgment, motives, loyalty, tenacity, courage, capacity.

Are we really trusting, or exercising discernment?  Do we rely on relationship or history?  I’d it about loyalty or confidence?

Dan was talking to leaders, so focusing on one kind of relationship.  But also thinking of the opposite relationship…. Do we trust our leaders?  Their motives, practices, ideas…  Their capacity.

When I boil this down, trust becomes almost exclusively about motives and loyalty.

Everything else is about capacity and history.  Capacity is like trust, in that we don’t have units.  There is no measure… When we sense somebody has the right capacity, we feel confidence in there ability.

Except for stratified systems theory, that posits timespan of discretion as the measure of capacity.  We implicitly measure capacity.  When we say, “He isn’t big enough for that role.”. We are talking about capacity.

When someone with the right capacity is in a role, trust is easy and confidence is natural.

If you want to learn about measuring human capacity, start with books by Tom Foster or Elliott Jacques.

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