Is “Trust” important in this digital, rapidly changing, global world or is it a thing to be consigned to the archives as ‘no longer fit for purpose’ ?
John Blakey, élite coaching professional, author and speaker concurs with Stephen Covey’s view that “Trust is the glue of life. It is the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships”. However, he is also concerned that our leaders think that “Trust” has been placed well down the list of management priorities in their focus for bottom-line profit.
Over the recent past we have seen many senior people in business, sport and politics loose credibility in the eyes of their public: democracy was created to provide the ‘man on the Clapham Omnibus’ an opportunity to help shape the future of their country; yet turnout in political elections over recent years in UK has been dismally poor ! Scandals around MPs expenses, broken election pledges, misuse of funds for political campaigns have had their impact. An Ipsos MORI poll in Dec 16 recorded that only 19% of the public thought politicians were telling the truth during the EU Referendum campaign, while another MORI poll conducted in Jan 16 indicated that only 21% of Britons trust politicians to tell the truth.
Sport is something that has a vast audience, even for those who don’t participate. This huge congregation hears of ‘cheats’ taking physically enhancing drugs, the antics of those at the highest levels in Football and Athletics striving to remain in power or to ‘feather their own nests’. Nor must we forget the frequency of ‘match fixing’. Should we accept this as ‘business as usual’ in Sport ?
In business we hear of leaders receiving massive bonuses in comparison to those whom they lead, underhand dealing with ‘Pension Pots’ and a general attitude of ‘get rich quick’ by many managers. The global financial crisis exposed many unscrupulous practices that had previously remained hidden !
In Society at large we see an increase in ‘dishonesty’ cases in the Justice System, and the general trend demanding ‘Rights without Responsibility’, which too suggests that a lack of “Trust” is endemic.
Not withstanding this, following massive research, John Blakey found that “Trust” within many organisations, is still regarded as very important, at least in certain specific areas: 89% think it is critical for attracting and retaining top talent, 91% regard it as critical to customer loyalty, while 88% think it critical to sustaining organisational bottom-line performance. If this is the case, why is the erosion of “Trust” frequently headline news ?
The world of the internet and social media in particular has brought people together ‘virtually’ in the most extraordinary way. As well as bringing people closer, it can provide insight on conditions in the most inaccessible and hostile places not open to normal forms of reporting and spread information instantaneously at the press of a button. However, the ease with which this incredible method of communication can accessed by both individuals and organisations mean it can be exploited for both ‘good’ and ‘evil’. It allows extremists to spread terror with great effect and to a greater audience than hitherto available to them, while the use of Twitter during the ‘Arab Spring’ generated massive gatherings and has been used for natural disaster warning and relief. Even the current President of the United States of America appears to favour Twitter over the more traditional methods of communication !
Most individuals now have easy entry to a platform providing access to massive domestic and global audiences. This coupled with the lack of any form of scrutiny or checks on the content of messages before being sent, results in the ‘normal’ rules or protocols of communication becoming obsolete; so too is the authority to enforce them !
Many of those who deploy thoughts, ideas or calls-to-action using social media do this with little understanding of the impact their message may have. Some however, do have full cognisance of the effect of their transmission. Whatever the intent of the initiator, it is clear that the result of this is that few in authority can ‘hide’ and any previous respect for authority itself is consigned to the dustbin !
Like it or not, social media makes any ‘group’ of people and the rules by which they organise themselves potentially transparent, those rules and the authority to implement them are open to immediate and unfettered challenge and often ridicule. In this brave new world, where “Trust” is still regarded as important for a group to prosper, how can this crucial emotion be fostered when it can no longer be be taken for granted ?
In business, current thinking suggests that the single bottom-line motivator of profit is underpinned by ‘Intellectual Ability’ and ‘Authority’. However, with authority no longer respected, a new set of ‘pillars’ are needed to underpin the bottom-line.
In John Blakey’s award winning book “The Trusted Executive” he suggests redefining the single bottom-line ‘Profit’ motivator to one of a “Triple Bottom-line” comprising; Results, Relationship and Reputation (or people, profit and planet) underpinned by three new pillars of Ability, Benevolence and Integrity.
This new revolutionary thinking has already been adopted by Unilever: since January 2009 Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever has had an ambitious vision to fully decouple its growth from overall environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the ‘Unilever Sustainable Living Plan’ ( https://www.unilever.co.uk/sustainable-living ). Others will follow.
Profit, contained within the “Triple Bottom-line” as Results will always remain a vital factor for business success. However, the loss of authority as the guarantor of “Trust” means that a more holistic and inclusive approach must be adopted, because “Trust” has been shown to be the catalyst for success.
Professional coaches are well aware that the prerequisite for a successful coaching relationship is “Trust”. Coaches are therefore well suited to play a pivotal role in both raising awareness of the importance of “Trust”, but also to help facilitate the adoption of this seemingly obsolete emotion in both business and more widely in society. Time is not on our side and many look only to the short term. As Coaches we have a responsibility to step up to the mark, take action and … as John puts it ‘evangelize’ on the subject !
To learn more about this sustainable way of thinking visit: http://johnblakey.co.uk/5-facts-all-leaders-need-to-know-about-trust/