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The Moment of Truth

"I don't go out of my way to earn my employees' trust," a banking colleague once told me. "But whenever the moment of truth arrives, I think they know I'll do the right thing." To illustrate the flaws in that mindset, I shared the following banking analogy with him.

Banks occasionally receive large cash deposits just before closing time, when it's too late to count the cash. When that happens, banks will often give a good customer provisional credit; that is, they'll credit the customer's account with the amount listed on the deposit slip and then count the money on the following day. Of course, banks reward that level of trust only to customers with a demonstrated history of accurate deposits.

Your employees grant trust the same way. Every time you do something that demonstrates adherence to your organization's values, each employee who either witnesses or hears about it will subconsciously give you a deposit in an imaginary "trust fund." Employees give you provisional credit for those deposits until you prove worthy of their trust. So, if you wait for a moment of truth to come along to show your commitment to the organization's values, your chances of earning employee trust are limited, and building up a permanent balance in your trust fund will take years. The real time for action is now.

Leadership is not about the moment of truth. It's about every moment. You must demonstrate your organization's values continuously and proactively in order to secure your employees' trust.

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