The One Key To Competitive Advantage That Everyone Can Affect

Jan 13, 2017 1 Min Read


With a workday that creeps closer and closer toward the 24-hour mark (figuratively speaking, of course, but it sure feels literal at times), the demand of the day creates unwanted pressure and stress to get things done. People must work across multiple time zones without meeting their team members in person. The reliance on email, teleconferencing and phone calls are less than ideal for building trust and rapport, but necessary nonetheless.

In the “hurry up” culture of today, trust becomes the by-product of process rather than the driver of, but without trust there are no relationships, and without relationships there’s no business. Building trust is key to building competitive advantage.

People do business with others that they like, know and trust. When you seek subject matter expertise you look for two things: one, the competence to get the job done and two, the positive intention (character) to do it right. Subject matter expertise is important, but it’s superficial. What I mean by superficial is, when you dig down deep and really ask yourself what you’re looking for, it comes down to “who has the competence and the character to get the job done?” Relationships drive business and business fuels relationships – at the core of that is trust.

Trust is a competitive advantage for individuals, teams and businesses. And the best part is, trust is something that everyone can affect (influence) and effect (control). Here are three more ways trust fuels competitive advantage:

1. Trust fuels your brand
The reputation you build for yourself is determined by how you choose to show up. Happy or sad, angry or elated, grumpy or enthusiastic, how you show up for the moment – in any moment – is a choice, and the consistency with which you do so builds your brand and your reputation. Your brand is what others trust and is what compels them to pursue you – or not.

2. Trust fuels inquiry
Along similar lines of trusting one’s brand is fuelling one’s curiosity to learn more about that brand. When you trust another’s competence, for instance, the implicit question is, “How are they trustworthy?” You want to know what makes that person competent enough to trust, you want to know the person’s experience, achievements and testimonials, and that requires inquiry. Trust fuels positive curiosity. Curiosity is the root of innovation and innovation fuels competitive advantage.

3. Trust fuels leadership effectiveness
Every leader (well, the good ones) wants to build trust with his or her people. The best way to build trust is to extend it. Here are a couple of ways to do so:

  • Share information. If you’re operating under the assumption that knowledge is power, you’re behind the globally-connected-collaboration-power-curve of today. While being knowledgeable is certainly powerful, sharing knowledge is the true source of power because it enables others to communicate, make decisions and act, thereby freeing you to focus on what you – and only you – can affect. Knowledge informs decision making, and the faster decisions are made the sooner you see results. Of course, the results may not be ideal but, as the saying goes: if you’re going to fail, fail fast.
  • Align behaviour with intention. As a leader, people watch your every move. They also watch every move you don’t make as well as every word you don’t say, because what you don’t say is equally important as what you say and how you say it. When people align your words with your actions and they see there’s consistency in this alignment, that’s when your trust report card skyrockets to the upper echelons of the A+ range.

Trust is the only competitive advantage that every employee and every leader at every level can affect. Affect yours today.

Jeff is a former Navy SEAL who helps business teams find clarity in chaos. He is a contributor at Forbes and, speaks at the Harry Walker Agency, and recently authored Navigating Chaos: How To Find Certainty In Uncertain Situations. This article first appeared on Forbes. To get in touch with Jeff, e-mail us at or visit

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Prethiba is passionate about impacting people through the written word. She believes that our lives are solely written by us, and thus the power to change for the better lies with us.

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