Recently I was working with a hospital C-Suite team to provide them with 360 degree feedback, from their leaders, peers, direct reports and key matrix relationships. As we worked to craft the questions that would elicit the most valuable information, much of it came down to character. Clearly to get to a C-Suite position, you need a certain level of education, skill set and degree of competence. Once at that level, it’s really more about how you get work done through others. What are your relationships like? We developed questions that asked about trust, integrity, accountability, and reliability.

Trust is foundational for most relationships. Is there mutual trust between the parties? How do you show up as a leader? Do you trust your direct reports? Do you set clear goals and give your people the opportunity to figure out how to create and execute on their plans to attain success? Or do you feel that they’ll do much better if you provide a step by step plan for them to follow? While your intentions may be quite noble, those reporting to you may feel your actions indicate lack of trust toward them. Lao Tzu said, “He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.”

On a coaching call today, my client was preparing to tackle an exciting new project. She wanted to create a spreadsheet of people she might want to involve. As she brainstormed what was most important in adding someone to the team the top two criteria were: 1. a specific certification and 2. her trust in the person. Trust is a combination of factors in my experience. We start most relationships with a moderate level of trust and it goes up or down based on our interactions over time. What does it take to build trust? Integrity, reliability, and accountability build or destroy trustworthiness. Missing deadlines, failing to respond to others in a timely way, and gossip can destroy trust.  Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” What are you doing to build strong, trusting relationships with others? How would you score if we ran a 360 feedback survey on your trustworthiness and character?