The Idea: We are suffering from a lack of trust. According to Edelman Research, trust has never been more fractured. “The world is moving apart in trust. In previous years, market-level trust has moved largely in lockstep, but for the first time ever there is now a distinct split between extreme trust gainers and losers. No market saw steeper declines than the United States, with a 37-point aggregate drop in trust across all institutions.”
Forty-percent of Americans find brands and companies less truthful today than 20 years ago, according to research by McCann. Ironically, 84 percent believe brands have the power to make the world a better place. Edelman Research states “The majority of Millennials (60 percent) are belief-driven buyers, as are more than half of Gen Z (53 percent) and Gen X (51 percent).” People want to believe brands and organizations will make a difference, yet they are rarely hopeful.
In Stephen M.R. Covey’s book The Speed of Trust, he shares, “Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust – distrust – is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them – of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. We have all had experiences that validate the difference between relationships that are built on trust and those that are not. These experiences clearly tell us the difference is not small; it is dramatic.”
Covey goes further, “Trust always affects two outcomes–speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed will also go down and costs will go up. When trust goes up, speed will also go up and costs will go down.” What does this tell you about your business?
Trust is the cement that holds relationships, families, and organizations together. When you don’t have enough trust, you must rely on control. Control will work for a limited time but has an expiration date.
My research shows three leadership flaws that hinder organizational trust. Any of these feel familiar?
- Leaders often manipulate others, distort facts, set unclear expectations, and spin the truth. Most people see through this, breaking confidence within the team.
- Leaders often pretend to care about team members. But you can’t fake heart; this connection matters for long-term organizational effectiveness. The best teams have created the bond of faithfulness to each other.
- Leaders often fail to apologize quickly for miscues or operate with lack of transparency. This leaves them vulnerable. We must lay our cards on the table and encourage on-going feedback to earn “share of heart” with others. How are you at immediately owning a mistake?
Are you known for being on time, on budget, and dependable? Trust is scarce. Organizations and leaders must first hold themselves accountable, and then others. If results are not coming in, the leader must personally own it. When leaders model this level of accountability, they demonstrate to everyone that they can be trusted.