The Organizational Strategist

June 20, 2010

Bridging gaps by building trust


From job seeking to influencing stakeholders to making presentations to closing consulting deals, a key component is building trust. In each of these pursuits, the audience, reviewer, or participant will be judging fit with the objective(s) in mind. He or she judges fit by comparing what is needed to achieve the objective. A resume is a tool to convey expertise. An interview is a means to judge orientation, direction, ability and potentially many other traits. Presentations are meant to inform or persuade. Influencing stakeholders can involve other types or persuasion, bargaining, politicking and conversing. Closing deals with consultants involves taking risks to allow others to participate in activities and operations. These undertakings hinge upon the trust built up in the emerging or ongoing relationship(s).

-Demonstrating Capability and Orientation-

Trust boils down to two primary factors. Those factors are capability and orientation. Capability, as I am defining it for this use, is the ability, competence level or other gauge on how well one can achieve a desired outcome. Orientation, as I am using it here, is the fit with the preferred direction, culture, expectation or outlook.



The more capable a person is, the more they can be trusted to achieve. The more in line a person’s orientation is with the objective, the more the person can be trusted to understand which options to pursue. The combination of the two makes for trust.

In the absence of one dimension, then a person is not as trustworthy. For instance, if someone were to be very capable, yet not oriented to the objective, the person should not be trusted. If you are looking to create a website for a political party, you likely would not want to go to a website creator that is an outspoken follower of the opposing party, no matter how a technically proficient the person may be. Alternatively, if someone had the best intentions and is in tune with the objective yet is unable to achieve, you would not likely trust that person. This could be a friend who wants to help you move your delicate and fragile artwork and furniture to your brand new house, yet that friend is a compete klutz; you probably would not want that friend’s help.

Quickly building trust with clients, coworkers, managers, friends, and acquaintances is an invaluable ability. If one is able to do that, then opportunities can be realized, partnerships formed, jobs landed, or audiences won over. Strategic implementations involve people and change. Communicating the questions regarding the who, what, where, when and why of change heavily depends on building trust. Without trust, the stakeholders involved will be more hesitant to change. The more trust is present among the people involved, the more they should be able to work together effectively.

Sample ways to demonstrate capability:

  • Show proof of previous results (resume, awards, medals, shiny desk ornaments, etc)
  • Display credentials (certificates, licenses, diplomas, etc)
  • Talk through previous experiences citing specific details that indicate your involvement
  • Mock up processes, diagrams, solutions and so forth (ex: using a whiteboard)

Sample ways to demonstrate orientation:

  • Conversation on relevant talking points
  • Walking the talk (actions can speak louder than words)
  • Show empathy, sympathy and understanding
  • Relate to your situation in your own words
  • Exhibit your choices in tough situations or similar situations to those at hand


Trust is an enormous subject to cover. It is a foundational element of relationships. To be an effective strategist, being able to build trust is absolutely vital as most any strategy, whether it be organization wide or on a personal basis, involves people working together. As a strategist, know your experiences and abilities to be able to demonstrate your capability to succeed. As a strategist, know the paths you have taken and plan to take in the future so that you can demonstrate the orientation you take to achieve. As a strategist, be able to assemble bridges of communication and action by building trust.

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