Build trust for a competitive advantage

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In my presentations to leaders, I address the question many are thinking, “Yeah, but what’s in it for me?”

My answer: it’s an incredible opportunity.

Both individually and organizationally.  I have never witnessed such widespread mistrust across all dimensions of modern life.  From Wall Street to Main Street, government, sports, politics, etc., the levels of trust are at an all-time low. And it’s hurting the economy. A 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “How a Trust Deficit is Hurting the Economy,” describes the economic impact of low trust:

  • “Trust is an essential lubricant for economic activity. It makes investors, employers, policy makers and consumers willing to take part in transactions with each other, which in turn drives spending, investing and growth.”
  • “‘Virtually every commercial transaction has within itself an element of trust,’ the Nobel-prize winning economist Kenneth Arrow wrote in a 1972 paper.”
  • “Surveys by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and Gallup show:
    • only a third of Americans trust banks..this gauge of trust continued to fall even after the financial crisis ended
    • about one in six [Americans] trust the stock market or large corporations
    • only 25% of Americans have much confidence in newspapers
    • only 21% trusted television news or organized labor
    • Congress got a vote of confidence from just 13% of the population.”
  • “Trust in all these institutions has been in long-term decline, which worsened heading into the recession that began in December 2007. A September Gallup poll showed that only half of Americans trusted the government to solve domestic problems.”
  • “Mistrust affects the relationship between government and business in other ways. When regulators don’t trust the businesses they oversee, they regulate them more. While this is arguably necessary, it can also be an impediment to economic activity. Increased scrutiny goes beyond the banks at the center of the financial crisis. Dominic Barton, a McKinsey & Co. managing director, says executives he knows in the food industry are spending 30% more time meeting with regulators today than they did a few years ago.”

What would it mean if you and your company were viewed as “most trustworthy?”

First, you and your company will be sought out  to solve the biggest challenges, to seize the most important opportunities, to lead the crucial project on which much depends.

Second, as a leader, everyone will want to be on your team.  People will come out of the woodwork when they hear you are putting together a team to lead the turnaround, to implement the next big thing, to bend the profitability curve.

There is a huge power of attraction to high-trust individuals and organizations.

It’s that simple and that hard. That’s why so few are viewed as trustworthy.

Why should you do this work? Because trust is rewarded.

Seize a competitive advantage — be a high-trust leader!