If you make a promise deliver on the promise.
The circle of trust is a concept that I have developed, and continue to refine in my work. It is the
central focus in our team building retreats.:
We also employ the circle of trust during our leadership workshops. It is the central focus of
both team communication as well as team collaboration.
Circle of Trust
In a previous article, we described the four components of the circle of trust. Those are:
- Listen to Understand
- Share from Experience
- Deliver on the Promise
While all four are important aspects and are necessary components to developing trust. The last
one, may be the most important. Deliver on the Promise, means that you should make deadlines,
and honor commitments. It is as simple as doing what you say you will do, when you said you
would do it. There is an old adage that top sales people live by and this is to underpromise and
over deliver. I am not a fan of the first part of that, to underpromise to me sets the bar too low. In
poker or golf terms it would be the same as sandbagging. In the business world, I have been
around managers who set their budgets based on this adage, setting artificially low revenue
numbers and high expense numbers in order to blow away the budget. To me this is poor
management. How can the leadership run a business, make crucial planning decisions on a
budget that has been sandbagged?
Don’t be a Sandbagger
What I am talking about is setting realistic expectations and then going out and making those
commitments. I am taking about all kinds of commitments. Simple ones like starting (or
finishing) a meeting on time, or making a call at the time you said you would. I am also talking
about the complex commitments. One word of caution is to never commit to things that are out
of your control. That means to never promise that somebody else will do something by some
For instance, when one department in an organization promises a client some task to be
completed by another department. That makes no sense. To avoid this risk, simply tell the
customer you will get back to them with the commitment, then make sure you do. You have no
control over the accounting department or anyone else. You do have control of what you
promise. Your responsibility is to live up to the commitments you make. If you do commit for
someone else, and they miss the deadline, it will be you that is held responsible by the client.
Your reputation is at risk. Insure that you are able to deliver on the promise or don’t make it.
Credibility is Crucial: Deliver on the Promise
Back to the circle of trust, let’s say you start with respecting others, listen to understand and only
speak from experience. If you fail to deliver on the promise, everything you have done to build
trust has been undermined. That is why I believe this forth component is the most critical. That is
not to say the other three are not important, they are. It is just that your credibility rests on the
forth element, deliver on the promise. Without credibility, you will never establish trust.