What a geyser can teach you about trust

Andrea Howe
Category : Weekly tips December 1, 2014

This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

Have you ever been to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S.?

If you have, you might have encountered Old Faithful, a geyser that gets its name because it regularly shoots steam and water to great heights. In fact, with a margin of error of 10 minutes, Old Faithful will erupt either every 65 or every 91 minutes, depending on the length of the previous eruption. It’s been doing this since 1870.

While most of us who endeavor to lead with trust would probably prefer not to be associated with a “geyser” (myself included), there’s something we can all learn from this phenomenon of nature.

Old Faithful is the poster child for reliability, one of four variables of The Trust Equation. Reliability has to do with actions and is rooted in consistency and predictability. Translated from the context of a national park into the context of business, this means:

  • You set expectations up front and report on them regularly.
  • You are rigorous about using good business practices, such as meeting agenda and notes.
  • You make lots of small promises and consistently follow through.
  • People can count on you to be the same person at all times, and the same to all people.
  • These things may come naturally to you, as they do for Old Faithful. Or if you’re like me, they take persistent effort.

    Make it Real

    This week, try out a new reliability practice—however small it might be—and test it out. Create a different way of reporting on status; go for an increase in efficiency. Include expectation-setting in your meetings as an overt agenda item. Re-commit to publishing meeting agenda and notes. What do you notice about the reactions you get? The results? What do you notice about the impact on you, personally?

    Learn More

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    Andrea Howe

    Andrea Howe

    As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).

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(1) Comment

Emanuela Panebianco
10 months ago · Reply

Awesome.

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