The Real Crisis Is Trust

backpacker reaches up to helping hand
By David Horsager, CSP

4 minutes

8 ways to build it up

We are in a crisis. World Economic Forum leaders recently declared that our biggest crisis is not financial, but a lack of trust and confidence. Few people truly understand the bottom-line implications of this crisis, but it affects every relationship and every organization.

Without trust, leaders lose teams and salespeople lose sales. Without trust, credit unions lose productivity, retention of good people, reputation, morale and revenue. The lower the trust, the more time everything takes, the more everything costs and the lower the loyalty of everyone involved. However, with greater trust comes greater innovation, creativity, impact, freedom and morale—and a bigger bottom line.

Trust is not just a “soft skill.” It is the fundamental key to all lasting success. Though it may appear intangible, it is actually a measurable competency that can deliver real results in our personal and professional lives.

Protect This Precious Resource

Based on my graduate research and over a decade of leadership consulting, it has become clear that trust is the world’s most precious resource. No matter your position in life—parent, credit union director or soccer coach—your ability to inspire trust has a direct impact on your influence and success.

In my research, I identified eight pillars that are key to building and supporting trust:

Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous. Clarity requires honesty. With honesty comes the need to share your vision, your purpose and your expectations. Once people have a good understanding of what you stand for, where you want to go and the role they play in your vision, it is easier to trust in your leadership.

Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves. Show that you can look beyond your own needs and wants. Trust and the ability to show empathy go hand in hand. There is a reason why we still hear, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Character: People notice those who do what’s right over what’s easy. It is a complex word, but for our purposes, let us consider the two main components to be integrity and morality. With integrity, you are being consistent with your thoughts, words and actions. Add that to a strong moral compass, a sense of right and wrong, and you are giving people someone they can trust.

Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant and capable. Knowing how to do your job well matters. Whether it is the dentist giving you a root canal or the mechanic replacing your transmission, you want to know they are competent and capable of doing their jobs. The same applies to you. If you want people to trust you, make competency a priority.

Commitment: People believe in those who stand through adversity. In this instance, actions definitely speak louder than words. So if you say something matters to you, be prepared to show

it to the people whose trust you want. It can mean demonstrating tenacity and stubbornness and making it clear you will see things through to the end.

Connection: People want to follow, buy from and be around friends. It’s easier to trust a friend than a stranger, so look for ways to engage with people and build relationships. You can start by learning to ask great questions. Use these questions to connect with people, to find the common ground you share. We find it easier to trust when we sense that we connect in some area. 

Contribution: People immediately respond to results. By giving of yourself and your talents, you are investing in others. And if you are serious about making a difference, you need to invest in the actions that will make your vision a reality. People trust those who actually do as opposed to just talking about doing.

Consistency: People love to see the little things done consistently. While all the pillars are important for building trust, failing to be consistent can undermine your efforts. Think of consistency like a savings account. Put a little in each day, and over time, it will pay you back in safety and security. Remember: It is unlikely that you will get one big chance to be trusted. Instead, you will have thousands of small ones. Like the savings account, when you respond consistently, you will see the results build up over time.

Right now we have an opportunity to be agents of change. We cannot regain trust in business if we do not trust each other, and it starts with you. It is through individuals that we can rebuild trust in our communities and our institutions. Have the courage to act on what you know to be true: that trust is the foundation of all genuine and lasting success.

David Horsager, CSP , is the CEO of Trust Edge Leadership Institute, national bestselling author of The Trust Edge, inventor of the Enterprise Trust Index™ and director of one of the nation’s foremost trust studies: The Trust Outlook™. Horsager will present “The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders and Organizations Drive Business Results through Trust” at Directors Conference, Dec. 10-13, 2017, Marco Island, Fla.

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