trustIt’s a bad time for trust in business. Research demonstrates that nearly half the workforce has lost faith in senior managers, and only about a quarter of employees are developing trust to their CEOs.

The Cost of Low Trust

The reason that trust is so important is because a lack of it, takes away from the bottom line. It’s not an intangible “nice to have” benefit. It’s a genuine business imperative. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners reports that businesses in America lose 6% of their revenue – thanks to fraud. It costs the United States over $1 trillion dollars to check compliance with regulations each year – that’s a tax on the whole nation due to a lack of trust.

If your organization isn’t built around trust – you’re essentially taxing every relationship and transaction within your business. A lack of trust increases project completion times, drags out decision making, and delivers poor communication.

So How Do You Build Trust?

You build trust through leadership. In fact the primary goal of a leader is to enable their team to trust. This comes through two facets; competence and character. That means you need competence – a solid skill set, a proven track record of delivering results and to be demonstrably capable. And you need real character, which means acting with integrity and honesty, having clear (and beneficial) motives and the right intent for your people.

This is obvious – we can’t trust someone who behaves with integrity but never delivers. In the same way we can’t trust someone who over achieves but does so dishonestly.

Great leaders put an emphasis on creating trust, in fact they make it a clear and explicit objective. They choose to measure levels of trust and to work on improving it. They communicate their objective clearly to their own management, and express the reasoning in business terms. They create a baseline, and then demonstrate improvement in the course of time.

Behaviours of Leaders Who Enable Trust

  • Respect – It all starts with respect for the people around you, if you don’t respect someone – they cannot trust you.
  • Committed to Straightforward and Transparent Working – No secrets, no hiding things. If you want a team to trust you, they have to see the way things will move forward.
  • Loyalty – You have to be prepared to stand by your people in the bad times. People trust people who are there when the going gets rough.
  • Deliver Tangible Results – You have to deliver the things you’ll say you’ll deliver. People trust you when you do.
  • Personally Accountable – The ability to take responsibility for your actions, and to make amends when things go wrong, is vital to the people around you.
  • Constantly Improving – It’s not good enough to try and be better, you have to get better. People trust you if they can see you’re a little better today than yesterday.
  • Listen and Clarify – People trust you if they can talk to you and you can show you understand their feelings.
  • Give Trust – Most importantly of all, you have to give trust to receive it.

Great leaders facilitate trust at all levels of an organization. They understand that trust is not an “airy fairy” concept but one with real bottom line benefits. They measure trust and promote successes in increasing trust – and they highlight the advantages it brings.