Trust is critical, not only in building a robust company culture and strong leadership, but it’s also instrumental in addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Trust should be viewed as a foundational piece of your organization in that everything that you’ve built on it will erode if it’s missing. Trust is also essential for every professional interchange whether you are a start-up or your organization has been around for generations. But as easily defined as you might believe trust to be, it involves more than a dictionary definition.

Definition of Trust

Having a firm belief in the reliability, truth, and integrity in an organization and its leaders leads us – as employees, clients, vendors, and consumers – to trust that organization. Although untrustworthy businesses have been known to do well, once trust issues have been revealed, it can cause fissures in a business’ foundation. The organization’s leaders then need to decide how to handle that erosion. Incidents can attempt to be swept under the proverbial rug or a revamp of procedures can happen. How the disintegration of trust is addressed speaks to the company culture and the strength of leadership.

Workers who trust their leaders are motivated to not only do well, but also to work to help their company succeed, too. Although trust is not necessarily a tangible asset, its relatively ambiguous nature can nevertheless have tremendous impact in the organization.

In other words, trust is measurable. People understand trust, whether they can accurately define it or not. They know they can trust certain products to give them what they want (freshness, money back guarantee, dependability) just as they know which companies to stay away from because of a lack of trust (deceptive marketing, manufacturing inferior products, unsafe business practices).

Trust as an Asset

Trust is like air in that it’s not noticed, but if trust is missing or mishandled, it gets attention. We expect trust to simply be there and are wickedly disappointed when it’s not. And trust doesn’t live alone; it lives with other attributes. Unfortunately, in many cases, leadership only addresses trust issues if there is a major faux pas.

When leadership has invested the time and effort to build trust, the company’s culture stands as a message in integrity. To leverage trust more effectively, leaders must build and facilitate trusted relationships. Consistency (in truthfulness, honesty, integrity, etc.) is an integral component to determine the trustworthiness of a business and its management. Just as with company culture, only being honorable part of the time or in some instances just won’t cut it. Through frank and thorough audits of company challenges and an implementation of effective solutions, trust can create/rebuild a solid foundation on which a business can gain/reclaim solid ground.

Reputation of Trust

Establishing a reputation of being trustworthy in your organization is key to developing the company culture that will ultimately allow your business to thrive. Aligning Your Business with a Positive Culture details some of the steps leadership can take to implement trust through a healthy company culture. In the near future, we’ll take a look at a couple case studies in trust to examine how businesses have handled trust issues – and how they didn’t. Respecting others enough to create an environment that proves your company and its leaders can be trusted is a fundamental factor in successful businesses. Trust me.

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