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Published:February 24th, 2008 15:00 EST
Trust  = Credibility,Reliability and Intimacy, divided by self-interest

Trust = Credibility,Reliability and Intimacy, divided by self-interest

By Axel Meierhoefer (Mentor/Columnist)

In the constant attempt to deepen knowledge and understanding of coaching, helping other people, and fulfill the motto of AMC of providing the 'Keys to Success', I have recently read the book "COACHING AND FEEDBACK FOR PERFORMANCE", which is part of the a series of books titled "leading from the center". It's published by Duke Corporate Education. 
 
One area I am often running into as coaching becomes more used and better understood is the question of internal versus external coaching. The group of authors who created the Duke book try to make a clear claim for the benefits of coaching from the inside, actually going as far as suggesting that every leader and manager should be a coach for his team members. 
 
I agree with some of the arguments made and the methods suggested, but still strongly believe that an external coach is a much better change agent for the company or organization that hires him or her (or me). 
 
When looking through the book at the arguments for and against internal versus external coaching, I ran across the "Trust Equation". I am sure everybody reading this article is probably in agreement that trust is the fundamental and most important issue in coaching, period. What was interesting when reading the book was that the authors actually point to the creators of the Trust Equation to show the importance of trust in the coaching relationship without ever realizing that by highlighting it they provided the best argument not to have the internal manager or leader become a coach. 
 
The equation is shown below. If you look at the parts and the explanations you will see that the driving factor is actually the level of self-orientation. The lower that level is, the higher the level of trust will be. The big, even huge, benefit of the external coach is that he or she is not part of the internal politics, wrangling, history, posturing and all the other internal fights and issues every organization experiences. That allows the external coach to have very little to almost no self-interest, other then providing good service to help the coachee. 
 
With that factor going towards zero, T = TRUST can become almost infinitely high. Thank you very much to the promoters of internal coaching from Duke Corporate Education for providing such a great argument for external coaches. I knew we did something right. I guess it goes to show that you can find friends in the strangest places. 
 
Here is the equation followed by explanations for each component. In words it says: "Trust is the sum of Credibility,Reliability and Intimacy, divided by self-interest. This means that that trust can become almost infinitely high when self-interest is very low, like with an external coach. Just imagine you had no self-interest when coaching. With that value being zero, trust would really be without limit. 

 

      C + R + I  
T= _________

            S

C = Credibility 
 
Credibility has to do with the words we speak. In a sentence, we might say, "I can trust what she says about intellectual property; she is very credible on the subject. 
 
R = Reliability 
 
By contrast, reliability has to do with actions. We might say, for example, "If he says he'll deliver the product tomorrow, I trust him, because he's dependable." 
 
I + Intimacy 
 
Intimacy refers to the safety or security that we feel when entrusting someone with something. We might say, "I can trust her with that information; she's never violated my confidentiality before, and she would never embarrass me." 
 
S + Self-orientation 
 
Self-orientation refers to the focus of the person in question: in particular, whether the person's focus is primarily on himself or herself, or on the other person. Increasing the value of the factors in the numerator increases the value of trust. Increasing the value of the denominator*that is, self-orientation*decreases the value of trust.  

 

Axel Meierhoefer is a published author, educator, coach, consultant, and the founder of Axel Meierhoefer Consulting LLC (AMC LLC). His motto is" Helping others help themselves achieve success". If you like to take a free test assessment to discover where you stand on the path to success or you like to get a consultation to prepare coaching, you can learn more about Axel at http://www.meierhoefer.net/blog or send an email to AM@Meierhoefer.net