First trust, then trustworthiness: yes, it’s counterintuitive

I was involved in an online chat at the Future of Work community and Avi Sujeeth posted this:

I think the trust deficit in most organizations is the largest barrier to the new way to work.  There are plenty of articles that talk to this point, like this one in the Harvard Business Review.
“Owning one’s defiance feels risky at every (st)age. Speaking up feels even more exposing and consequential, spontaneity more unfamiliar, when we’ve spent much of our careers learning to modulate our silence—and being rewarded for it.” Particularly resonated with me.
IMO that’s why success manager training focuses on starting small and telling stories.  As we seek to encourage people to self-organize, to be authentic, and to be open; I think it’ll be imperative to figure out the best ways to approach building trust.

Yes, I believe that many companies are stress factories, and people there work to keep their heads down and their mouth closed, or full of non-controversial things. It’s typical to put the burden on the individual, to say that we have to earn the trust of others before we get a chance to operate autonomously, to openly state our opinions, or take action.
But I think the reality is the opposite. As I said in the online discussion with Avi,

Actually, I think it’s the other way around: the propensity to trust others leads the others toward positive business behaviors, like higher risk taking, citizenship behavior, and task performance, and lower counterproductive behaviors (see Trust, Trustworthiness, and Trust Propensity: A Meta-Analytic Test of Their Unique Relationships With Risk Taking and Job Performance, by Jason A. Colquitt, Brent A. Scott, and Jeffery A. LePine).
So — even though it’s counterintuitive — it’s really trust, then trustworthiness.
If you are trust-averse, you look for more ‘”good reasons” constituting evidence of trustworthiness’, but I agree with other researchers that ‘trust often requires a leap beyond the expectations that ability, benevolence, and integrity can inspire’.

One aspect of the new leadership — leanership — to to stretch the trust propensity, and to rely on the impact that trust can make.