In episode 80, we welcome as our guest Sim Sitkin, a Professor at Duke University in Durham, N.C. He explores the intricate dynamics between trust and distrust, highlighting their distinct natures and the challenges involved in navigating these complex emotional states. He uncovers the nuances of how trust can vary incrementally across different domains, and contrasts this with the pervasive and often unyielding nature of distrust.
He provides perspective on the vital role of values in shaping trust relationships. Through Sitkin’s study involving a Dutch court, we learn how value incongruence between groups can lead to a breakdown in communication and trust, explaining the processes of rebuilding trust, and focusing on shared values and perspectives. Sitkin also touches on the role well-crafted control systems play in cultivating trust, drawing parallels from Ideo’s approach, which harmonizes such systems with company ethos to reinforce trust. Furthermore, he provides insight into his forthcoming research, which seeks to consolidate the fields of trust and distrust into a unified theory.
He emphasizes that competence alone is insufficient for trust to flourish, leaders must demonstrate benevolence and an understanding of their team’s perspectives and values. He discusses the “tipping point” of trust, a critical juncture where accumulated missteps can erode trust beyond a simple fix, stressing the importance of early recognition and intervention to prevent distrust from becoming entrenched.
Additionally, we touch on the impacts of immediate actions versus systemic changes on trust, the critical role of understanding in building trust, and the importance of relational leadership behaviors. Finally, we wrap up our conversation with a look towards the future. Sim Sitkin, alongside colleagues, is pioneering a general field theory to integrate research on distrust, trust, and generalized trust, aiming to illuminate the future landscape of trust in our rapidly evolving world.