Trust and us

Trust, Credibility and Leadership

Narinder Sharma

Trust is an everyday word, we all know and use it numerous times, but how much do we understand & practice it? And why is it essential to re-establish trust?

TRUST /trʌst/

firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
Synonyms: confidence · belief · faith · freedom from suspicion/doubt.

Put in simple words – Trust can be defined as the confidence you have in someone.

It’s a surprisingly simple yet a tricky topic. People have slightly different interpretations, notions and understandings of trust. To illustrate my point, consider an average ordinary day without trust. Wouldn’t it be difficult to leave your home, let alone buy something from a stranger online or put your money in the bank? Imagine boarding a plane without trust in its ability to stay aloft. Or jumping onto public/shared transport without trusting the drive. From a credit card purchase on eBay to flying somewhere for a holiday, our complex, interconnected world largely depends on trust at every turn and corner.

And the irony is almost everywhere we turn, trust is on the decline. Pick up a newspaper, and you’ll immediately be confronted by headlines about fading trust in banks, corporations and relationships. In fact, a research study has shown that only as few as 51 per cent of employees trust senior management and believe them as a credible source of information. It is no secret that – “Trust seldom comes instantly!” To earn trust, it needs to be built bottom-up – a simple yet neglected concept.

Trust affects everything. 

How does it affect us so much? Stephen M. R. Covey, in his book “Speed of Trust” explains this as an economic equation. When employees trust the organisation, this trust results brings benefits for all. When employees trust each other, they communicate better, which increases efficiency and results in company growth.

Trust always affects two measurable outcomes—speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed goes down, and cost goes up

Trust is one of the most potent forms of motivation and inspiration, bringing out the best in people. A high level of trust elevates almost every dimension of an organisation:

  • Increased value
  • Accelerated growth
  • Enhanced innovation
  • Improved collaboration
  • Stronger partnering
  • Better execution
  • Heightened loyalty

On the other hand, low (or lack of) trust results in wasted time, talent, creativity, energy and money. It poisons company cultures, derails strategies and sabotages initiatives, relationships and careers. These organisation usually suffers from:

  • Redundancy – unnecessary duplication, excessive organisational hierarchy, overlapping structures and layers of management.
  • Bureaucracy – is reflected in excessive paperwork, red tape, controls and approval layers.
  • Politics – divide culture, withholding information, hidden agendas, manipulating meetings after meetings.
  • Disengagement – People put in just enough effort to avoid getting fired

Leaders must be trustworthy, and they can lose that trust by breaking the rules they are supposed to enforce.

Trust Pyramid

According to the trust triangle – listening to understand, having straight talk and making commitments are the basis of trust and respect. Customers and Employees are the most significant assets of any successful organisation, and those who fail to engage with them perish & forgotten. It is increasingly vital that Banks & Institutions ensure stability, fair practice and transparency. These core the linchpins of the system of institutional trust system.

Today where internet & information technology plays a vital role in what and how we digest the news, build our perceptions and attune our feelings. Recognising the significance of distributed (peer-to-peer) trust and engagement is crucial for successful organisations. Trust or lack of it can easily sway the polarity of the situation.

Banks have gathered a lot of media attention lately, and much of it is not for good reasons. No wonder customers are becoming increasingly sceptical about banks & institutions nowadays. However, it is also essential to understand new technologies don’t just undermine institutional trust by revealing dark secrets. They can also distort the truth too. Take social media, for example poorly researched, sensationalist or merely false claims also spread like wildfire through social media channels. Fake news articles are frequently shared by people who haven’t even read them, let alone double-check the content only because the headline reflects their worldview. Put together, it amounts to a ferocious assault on the credibility of established banks & institutions.

The problem from the latter’s perspective is that rebuilding trust is exceptionally difficult. Once bitten, twice shy – Once misdeeds have been exposed. The very nature of trust is undergoing a dramatic shift in contemporary society. Moving away from a top-down relationship with established institutions and towards a new horizontal & distributed trust with peers. Admittedly, we need to act, act fast and act now.

Working together to rebuild trust

(Re)Establishing Trust

Trust and credibility are critical factors for making an organisation successful. This brings us to the Law of Solid Ground, which states that leaders must work on a solid foundation of trust. They need to demonstrate trustworthiness, reliability, honesty, fairness and transparency.

Some believe that lost trust can never be replaced and restored, so it is best never to break trust in the first place. While it is harder to overcome a loss of trust based on a violation than competence, it is entirely possible to restore trust and even enhance it. When handled correctly, violated customer trust can be both restored and improved.

Great leaders give stewardship – responsibilities with trust that engage genuine ownership, accountability and Integrity, bring out people’s greatest resourcefulness, and foster an environment that extends trust and generates more high trust.

Let’s join together and work together to achieve greater, better things.

Reference & Credits: Covey, S. (2018). Speed of Trust Transformation Process™ | Leadership Training and Organizational Culture Change | FranklinCovey. Available at: [Accessed 20 Jun. 2018].