What you’re about to read is from my new book, Leading With Vulnerability. It’s actually one of the sections that had to get edited out due to length but I still wanted to share it with you since it’s so important to our understanding of trust and leadership.

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Human relationships are complicated but at the very foundation of a good relationship is trust. It’s a powerful force that can bridge divides, unlock the potential of others, lead to amazing discoveries, and transform teams, organizations, and societies. Yet at the same time, when trust doesn’t exist, chaos reigns.

Employees won’t share their ideas or support each other, they will hoard information, engage in backstabbing and office politics, they won’t do their best to serve customers, and the culture becomes toxic. You wouldn’t want to be in a relationship where you don’t trust your parter so why would you want to work for an organization where you don’t your peers and your leaders? You wouldn’t.

Do you trust others? Do you think others trust you?

Many of us our cynical when it comes to trusting others but is this cynicism warranted? To answer that we turn to the field of psychology and trust games.

The Trust Game

In 2010 Dr. Detlef Fetchenhauer of the University of Cologne and Dr. David Dunning (who I interviewed for my latest book) from the University of Michigan dove head first into the area of human behavior and trust. Their findings were startling to say the least.

Let’s say I give you $10 and I present you with a choice, you can either keep the money or give it to someone else. If you give it to someone else, that $10 now becomes $40. The person who you gave the money to will now have a choice as well:, they can either keep that $40 or they can split it with you and now you will each have $20. Would you give the money to the other person and trust that they will then split the larger pot with you?

These types of trust games have been used for several years in psychology and economics and it’s these types of trust games that Dr.’s Fetchenhauer, Dunning, and many others, have been experimenting with for many years. All of these experiments show the same conclusion which says a lot about how we trust others and how others trust us.

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