Are you, your organization, and its leaders trusted?
Trust is critical to success. The trust:
- Customers have for the organization’s products and services, including its vision and strategies
- Customers have for the company’s representatives, such as their sales personnel, service representative, help desk, etc.
- Employees have in their organization’s leaders and their vision and strategy
- Employees have for their direct managers and supervisors
- Managers have for their employees
- Suppliers and vendors have in the organization, including representations concerning payment, handling of confidential information, bidding processes, and more
- Channel partners have in the organization and its representatives, including representations about products and services, supply commitments, and more
A new book, “The Trust Edge” by David Horsager*, is an interesting read and makes a number of points regarding the value of need for trust:
- Trust can accelerate and mistrust can destroy any business, organization, or relationship
- Greater trust brings superior innovation, creativity, freedom, morale, and productivity
- No matter what your role is, trust effects your influence and success
- Watson Wyatt studied 12,750 U.S. workers in all major industries and at all levels. According to the study, “Companies with high trust levels generated total returns to shareholders at almost three times that of companies with low levels of trust”
- Trust is a confident belief in someone or something. It is the confident belief in an entity:
- To do what is right
- To deliver what is promised
- To be the same every time, whatever the circumstances
- The trust edge is the competitive advantage gained when others confidently believe in you
- It took an average of seven months for employees to build their trust in a leader but less than half that time for them to lose it
- Fewer than two out of five employees today [Watson Wyatt survey] have trust and confidence in their senior leaders
- One of the biggest reasons for trust is the perception that people are concerned, beyond themselves, for the good of the whole
- The ability to show care, empathy, and compassion is a strong component of trust
- A Gallup report found that “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers and supervisors. People leave because they are not respected, listened to, appreciated, or cared about
My advice for individual leaders:
- Question the trust you have for your team. Do you freely trust them, giving them autonomy and decision-making powers? Or do you question every action, punish their mistakes, and retain decision-making for yourself?
- Ask whether you treat your employees the way you want your manager and your spouse to treat you
- Question whether everybody on your team trusts you. How many open up to you without fear? How free are they to share dissenting opinions? Do they tell you when you are about to make a mistake? Do you retain employees as long as or longer than your peers? Do employees from your prior positions follow you? Are they clearly happy?
My advice for board members:
- Question whether you trust each of the following individually: the CEO, the CFO, the general counsel, and other key leaders such as the head of internal audit, the chief compliance officer, and other key executives. How much confidence do you have in their integrity, transparency, commitment to the long-term success of the organization, and abilities?
- Ask whether you have sufficient collective trust in the executive leadership team to bring you the information you need when you need it, recommend strategies, and execute
- Do the executive leaders demonstrate trust both with each other and with you?
- Do you trust each other?
- What is your level of trust in your other key advisors, such as the external auditor, external counsel, and compensation advisor?
- Is the leadership team sufficiently trusted by the organization’s employees?
- Is the organization itself sufficiently trusted by customers, channel partners, agents, vendors, regulators, and others in the extended enterprise?
- Does management measure, monitor, and act to ensure trust?
My advice for the executive leadership team:
- Do you trust each other, freely sharing information and resources, making each other’s priorities your own priorities, sharing views and opinions openly and without fear, supporting each other in actions as well as words, and ensuring that everybody is working without exception to common purpose and goals?
- Do you have and demonstrate trust in the leadership of the CEO? CFO?
- Do you trust the board?
- Do you trust your employees? Are you sure? Do you demonstrate that every day?
- Do you trust those in your extended enterprise?
- Do you know whether the employees trust you? Is the level of trust sufficient? Do you act in such a way as to gain and retain their trust?
- Are you, as an organization, trusted by your customers, both current and potential? How do you know? Is the level of trust sufficient and how can it be improved?
- Is the organization sufficiently trusted by customers, channel partners, agents, vendors, regulators, and others in the extended enterprise?
- Is the organization sufficiently trusted by the community, regulators, examiners, etc?
- Do you measure and monitor trust? How will you know if it drops? What can and should you do to enhance it?
I welcome your comments on this topic. I think it is an interesting topic, going beyond a discussion of reputation. Do you agree?
*Disclosure: Representatives for the book contacted me to write a review and sent me a copy. They provided permission for the quotes (above) and a copy of the diagram I have included.
My comments are my own and I have not been compensated in any way for them.
The book has received plaudits from luminaries such as Ken Blanchard, Lou Holtz, and Harvey Mackay (author of Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive). It’s been on the Wall Street Journal’s best-seller list (as high as #2), although it is not listed at the moment.
Does it deserve such praise? Should leaders aspiring to greatness buy it?
I think it has some good content and give it a general “thumbs up”.
My recommendation is for leadership teams to use the book and its advice as the foundation for an open and frank discussion about trust in all its forms (see the first paragraph, above).
- The value of trust is described at length and is persuasive
- The book style is conversational, an easy read, and has useful summary questions at the end of every chapter
- The advice on how to gain trust includes a wide variety of activities, such as the need for clarity of vision, demonstrating trust in your people, and more
- It provides a good starting point for a discussion about how well your organization is trusted and what actions to take to increase it
The not so good:
- There is no guidance on how to assess whether you and your organization are trusted. Maybe this should be a follow-up book: identifying and discussing the red flags signaling a lack of trust by employees; within the executive team; within the board; between the board and management; of employees; and of the company by customers, vendors, channel partners, regulators, the community, and more
- The book doesn’t do enough, in my opinion, to separate the issues of whether you as an individual are trusted from whether the organization is trusted
- While the book has a wide range of tips and advice, some of it is less relevant to trust. I wish it had focused more on the top issues instead of trying to cover the entire waterfront.