RSS Building Trust

For the last 11 years, Edelman PR has published its annual Trust Barometer, a global study that gauges people’s trust in institutions and industries. In America, the so-called “trust barometer” is sinking. The study found that 46 percent of Americans trust business, an 8-point drop from last year; 27 percent trust media, an 11-point decline, and 40 percent trust government, down 6 percent from a year before. 

 Edelman CEO Richard Edelman wrote, “The result is an even more profound shift in the expectation of companies to operate with increased transparency and in a manner that delivers profit while improving society.” Check out the report.

What this reports says to me is that many of the messages that organizational leaders disseminate are viewed as self-serving or possibly even self-indulgent.  In order for organizations to enhance their long-term credibility and begin to improve these disturbing trust trends, leaders from all walks of life must significantly improve both their focus and their message. 

Consider for a moment the lack of trust in government today.  The trust deficit has been brought on by the perception of political gridlock in Washington D.C. Like all organizations, there are individuals in positions of leadership who must focus their attention on the larger picture. They must engage their team members with a vision that allows for individual achievement, yet produces results that a majority of people feel best fulfill their own wants and needs.   To me, the lack of trust in government is not due to individual politicians, but rather the political leaders who all too often focus on ideology rather than tangible results.  In this example a change in focus on the greater good by government leaders is a prerequisite to improving the level of trust in government. 

Now consider the declining trust in business.  It has been brought on by years of business scandal, most recently exemplified by the financial meltdown on Wall Street.  We ran into problems because individuals in positions of trust were allowing unsound business practices to occur, and where individual incentives were created that encouraged these unsound practices.  What bothers me most about the meltdown on Wall Street was the non-transparent communication from the so-called leaders to their various constituents. These folks refused to  accept accountability for their inappropriate business practices.  Business leaders, whether or not they are in the middle of a crisis, must be forthcoming with accurate and timely information in order to manage the expectations of their constituents.  They must be accessible, honest and open to criticism so as to be deemed trustworthy.  

Focusing on the greater good and effectively communicating with your constituents – be they voters, employees or clients - are the hallmark characteristics of strong and trustworthy leaders.    If you are a leader currently or aspire to be in a position of leadership in the future, it’s time to create your own legacy of trust by embracing a persona of transparency.   Learn from the mistakes of the past so that we can create a more trustworthy society in the future.

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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