The Trust Tax
When I had the opportunity to read Stephen MR Covey’s brilliant book, The Speed of Trust, a couple of years ago one particular quote really stood out to me-
Every organization earns a trust dividend or pays a trust tax
I thought the book in total, discussing the basis and levels of trust and the elements involved should be required reading in every business school and leadership program internationally, but that statement really stood out for me.
As an executive and management consultant for over 35 years I have been trying to instill that message in organizations where I was part of the management infrastructure and to my clients.
An article I had a chance to read from the Harvard Business Review shared some information that I found abhorrently fascinating- The Edelman Trust Barometer which has surveyed tens of thousands of people in over 28 countries reported that for the first time in its 17- year history the average trust level in all four of the institutions measured (Government Officials, Business/CEO’s, NGO’s and Media) was below 50%.
Government came in last, closely followed by media, but 48% of respondents did not trust business leaders to do the right thing.
A great quote from a book I read earlier this year, Barbarians to Bureaucrats, had a pretty compelling reason why this is such an issue.
-the decline in corporate culture precedes – and is the primary causal factor in the decline of a business, and that decline is the result of the behavior and spirit of its leaders.
In this day and age of consumerism and social media the accountability to earn and sustain trust rests with management at all levels and platitudes and generic mission and value statements isn’t going to get it done.
The advantages of employee and customer engagement are clear and compelling and two key points-
• You will never have sustained customer engagement without employee engagement.
• The foundation of engagement is trust. You have to do the work.
Angela Duckworth in her book Grit, talks about how cultures form-
…Culture has the power to shape our identity. Over time and under the right circumstances, the norms and values of the group to which we belong become our own. We internalize them. We carry them with us. The way we do things around here and why become the way I do things and why!
Some of my favorite leadership authors including Patrick Lencioni, Simon Sinek, and others all talk about creating a healthy culture and its criticality to sustained organizational success. They also share that the foundation for every healthy culture is trust!
Research from Josh Bersin concluded that in descending order the most important things to Millennials are culture and values, career opportunities, and confidence in leadership!
Why is that important? Because Millennials are now the largest demographic in the workforce and that is only going to get larger over the next five to seven years!
The Edelman Trust Barometer just concluded we got an F in three out of four categories!
I haven’t talked to a lot of organizations lately that have declared victory in terms of organizational performance and employee engagement.
Well, you can’t build a tower with a faulty foundation and when employees don’t trust leadership that is faulty!
Jamie Dimon, CEO of Morgan Chase shared some tips on how he selects senior leaders for his organization-
The first are attributes, Capability, character, and how they treat people. The next are two simple, but compelling questions:
• Would I let them run the business without me?
• Would I let my children work for them?
How many of us ask those questions as part of our hiring process?
How many of us are building the concept that earning and sustaining identity based trust is a journey and an expectation for leadership candidates in our own organization?
Trust isn’t an entitlement!
Leadership in this area is going to need to come from the business sector. Government came in dead last in the trust race and based on the last election and actions since then I wouldn’t count on our elected leaders for guidance or improvement.
How long can we pay this kind of tax?