Trust or No Trust

There were two Realtors in Starbucks the other day, engaged in a deep discussion around a fence that was not exactly on the property line of the home being sold.  Coffee shops aren’t really the best strategic place to get into an invigorating discussion because nothing is really private.  The agent who was helping some folks buy the home stated that the fence was not correctly placed on the property line and needed to get moved, and that it was illegal to sell a house this way.  The agent selling the home said it wasn’t illegal, it just had to be disclosed to the buyer.  The buyer’s agent said no, the law clearly states that you can’t sell a home if the fence is in the wrong spot.  The other agent disagreed and they went back and forth over what the law said and who was right.  Shouldn’t they have instead, worked out the details on the fence, closed the deal, and each put $10,000 in the bank?  No, they would rather be right than rich.

The human nature need to be right is almost as strong a sensation as gravity or love, and it defeats teamwork by eroding trust.  It can take over, and like a computer virus, take our whole human operating system in the wrong direction by corrupting data and interfering with good decisions.  People feel they should be trusted for always being right, yet it is in the driving need to be right, that they in fact aren’t trusted.  We see this in the business environment all the time.  Individuals would rather be right, than have the team achieve it’s strategic goals.  Executives delay critical communications to the company because their list of corporate values is right and they aren’t buying off on the options.   Managers often prove they are right in written policies which stifle engagement and sour teams.  People save memo’s and emails so at the perfect time they can pull them out and prove they are right.

If effective teams are built on trust, and sound trust is of the highest value that another person can recognize in us, then doesn’t that in itself make us right.