High Impact Meetings are easy to spot.

They always have the following conditions:

  1. Significant impacts on individuals (Internal)
  2. Significant impacts on the organization (External)

High impact meetings depend on more than great preparation and excellent meeting facilitation.  These ultra-productive meetings also depend on EQ. the quotient of emotional intelligence available to the individuals in the meeting.

What is EQ, exactly?  How does it show up?  What are the signs your organization is growing EQ, and capitalizing on it?

Here at The Meeting Guy, my research/experience with hundreds of corporate and nonprofit organizations shows that the answers to these questions is found in one word:


Trust or Bust!  Don’t let Trust Rust!  Lust for Trust!  – – –  Most of all, Trust Your Gut! 

Trust in organizations is like the human bloodstream:  Your capacity to function depends on the quality and quantity of blood flowing to the brain, heart, organs, and muscles.  Likewise, team performance depends to a large degree on the quantity and quality of the trust YOU demonstrate.

OK, that’s easy to say.  It gets a little harder when you have to answer questions like:  How much do you Trust yourself?  What is the Trust Level in your organization?  How can you know the answer to either is real?

Read what follows, to help you find answers….

There are three basic levels of trust. The first, most basic level is Deterence-Based Trust (“rules-based” trust.)  This is fundamental to relationships.  It is the base level of trust in all successful partnerships.  Deterence-Based Trust means that there are rules in place that prevent one person from taking advantage of or harming another person.  This is the realm of laws, contracts, and the statutes that govern our behavior in personal and business settings.  Organizational policies and procedures provide agreements and boundaries for how we interact and treat each other, and if we violate those rules, usually there are consequences involved.  Ouch!

The second level of trust is Knowledge-Based Trust. This is the realm of predictive responsive behavior.  In other words, this level of trust means that I’ve had enough experience with you and knowledge of your behavior that I have a pretty good idea of how you will react and behave in relationship with me. Given that we usually work and live with people we are familiar with, this level of trust guides most of our day-to-day professional relationships experience.  It is a prevalent quality inside of my residential community, for example.

The third (and in my professional opinion, the most impactful level) of trust guiding our behavior is called Identity-Based Trust. Here, we have offered intimate details about ourselves as individuals related to the organization’s mission.  You know my hopes for where I want to be on this team.  You know my dreams, goals, ambitions.  I’ve disclosed my fears about the market, and my doubts about the capacity of top leadership.  I trust you at this level because over the course of time I have increased my level of transparency and vulnerability with you and you haven’t taken advantage of me. You’ve proven yourself to be loyal, understanding, accepting.  Bottom Line:  You don’t take things personally!

Identity-Based Trust is the Golden Hinde of team performance.   In Identity-Based Trust, clearly communicated (and consented to!) agreements/boundaries foster the  highest levels of productivity, creativity, and performance in organizations. I’ve helped develop team and organizational cultures where the goal was TO FAIL!  We created games like:  “Who will take the most outrageous risk, while acting responsibly with the organization’s budget?”  We operated freely without concerns of being stabbed in the back by power-hungry colleagues looking to move higher on the corporate ladder. In this high performance culture, people simply have more fun.  There is less gossiping, less petty complaining, and far less of the destructive, dirty politics of ego and power.  We know each other’s hopes and dreams; we hold each other up when we fall; we encourage individual personal development, while the overall culture shouts “Team First!”

This is a pretty common experience for most people, right?  For example, when trust is present for me Personally, and at work, , I relax.  I smile. I CAN EMBRACE GOODNESS.  And I’ve seen over and over again, embracing goodness through Identity-Based Trust  is the gateway to the High Impact Meetings typical of top performing organizations.

I design and lead high impact meetings.  During my sessions, I’ll often challenge the team to assess their capacity to fail.  How safe is it for individuals take risks?  What value is placed on doing things differently, on searching for efficiencies?  In the workplace, if you tend towards caution, if you tend towards gathering evidence to justify your assessment of what is breaking down, you are in fact catalyzing the opposite of what you want!  This paradox is easily understood through the lens of one’s personal/relationship life. For example, if I’m fearfully “looking through the lens” of fear and jealously, and my wife is sitting on a couch with some dynamic person, and then she does that again, and then I confront her after the party and act like a hurt, jealous pre-teen…. Well you get the picture.  Not creating the kind of connection I want to have with her.  However, were I to express my commitment to Identity-Based Trust, and clearly communicate my boundaries, my needs, and any clear agreements we have…  suddenly I’m a solid contribution.  And that is healthy, and often attractive.  I’ve made a positive difference in a challenging scenario.

Thus, we find ourselves in the realm of where personal learning meets professional development.  I’ve finally begun to allow myself the space to accept that GOODNESS (Trust) has just as much relevance and validity as EVIL (lame decision-making based on wounded, unsafe egos…)  And while it may be true that neither myself, nor my clients, can change the world in isolation, when Identity-Based Trust is present and growing, everyone on the team experiences that feeling like:  “I DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!”  This frees up every individual to design the course of their workday to be ever-closer to the ultimate motivator called:  “I’M LIVING MY PURPOSE” which of course saves the organization tons of money via retention.

Your job?  Is not just to Trust, but also, to learn HOW to Trust.

Your job?  To cultivate these three types of trust with these easily remembered phrases.  Doing so may be the quickest path to making the positive impact on people and planet.  Yes, OUR planet, which needs all of us, starting yesterday, to express the power and grace of deeper inner awareness.

It’s Trust or Bust, people.  Trust of Bust.


See ya around the Board room,

David Ferrera  –  The Meeting Guy