Guest Blog by Barbara Kimmel
#1 Trustworthy leadership – A culture of trust cannot exist with an untrustworthy leader. Trustworthy behavior must start at the top and flow down through every person in an organization. Trust should not be confused with compliance. Being “legal” is not synonymous with being trustworthy.
#2 Transformation – Productivity and exceptional execution begin when the CEO and leadership team synthesize a set of values and goals that are shared, accepted, and adopted by all stakeholders.
#3 Tools – There are many trust tools leaders can use to build trust with their stakeholders, running the gamut from metrics and assessments to online surveys.
#4 Treatment – The Golden Rule says to “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Leaders who extend trust to stakeholders are more likely to have it returned. Trust fundamentally works by a series of reciprocating actions between the “trustor” and the trusted.
#5 Teamwork – Teamwork leads to better decisions and outcomes. High-performing teams create trust, and trust creates high-performing teams. Breaking down silos, and in particular exhibiting trustworthy behavior, should be on every leader’s priority list.
#6 Talk – Your stakeholders need to know what steps you are taking to build a trustworthy organization. Quarterly numbers are no longer the be-all and end-all. Evidence is mounting that a trustworthy culture and “good numbers” go hand in hand. Long-term, trustworthy behavior is more profitable than short-term changes that don’t last.
#7 Truth – Truth-telling is at the core of trust. Any leader who wants to build a trustworthy organization must have an extremely comfortable relationship with the truth. No company is perfect, and it’s not necessary to air all the dirty laundry – just don’t lie about it or intentionally mislead. In times of crisis, a habit of truth-telling yields good returns. The absence of such habits can be disastrous.
#8 Time – Building a trustworthy culture does not happen overnight. It takes time, maybe even years (but not decades). The leader who invests the time to educate himself or herself about how to build trust with teams and stakeholders, and then develops a plan, communicates and implements it, will be rewarded with greater stakeholder trust. When a slip-up occurs, those who “banked” trust will recover faster.
#9 Transparency – Transparency involves visibility and accessibility of information, especially with business practices. Any leader who thinks he or she can hide behind a veil of secrecy need only spend a few minutes on social media reading what their stakeholders are saying. In today’s world, transparency is no longer the risk. Opacity is the risk. Transparency helps build trust.
#10 Thoughtful – Not all stakeholders need to know the company’s trade secrets, or what the CEO had for dinner. But if your company is serious about increasing trustworthiness, consider engaging all your stakeholders in rich, thoughtful conversations, not as constituencies to be maneuvered, managed, or massaged. View them as vital contributors to a better organization and welcome them to the conversation. To be a thoughtful company with a thoughtful strategy, trust the stakeholders to be thoughtful.
This material is excerpted and edited with permission from an essay titled “The Business Case for Trust” by Barbara Brooks Kimmel and Charles H. Green, which is included in an upcoming book, Trust Inc.: Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset(November 2013). Contributors include Stephen M. R. Covey, Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, and Bob and Gregg Vanourek.
Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an award-winning communications executive and the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World. In 2012, Good Business International named Barbara one of 25 Women Who are Changing the World.
This is a guest blog for Triple Crown Leadership, an international award-winning book by Bob and Gregg Vanourek. Twitter: @TripleCrownLead