By David Horsager
Everything of value is built on trust, from financial systems to relationships.
Trust has always been foundational to genuine success of any kind. However, it has not been labeled as such. People seldom talk about trust as a competency to learn and practice. That is changing. Almost overnight, trust found its way into the public limelight specifically because it has been so hard to find. From massive fraud in business to scandals in politics and athletics, the headlines point to a persistent problem of modern life and business–we’re lacking in trust. Meanwhile, the world is “flattening” in many respects. Cultures are meeting and expanding in ways that weren’t possible even a decade ago. But globalization isn’t a free ride. Joining the mega-mergers and open markets are new suspicions and misunderstandings. We can reach across borders, but we don’t know how to be trusted by the people we find on the other side. In the 21st century, trust has become the world’s most precious resource.
Trust has the ability to accelerate or destroy any business, organization, or relationship. The lower the trust, the more time everything takes, the more everything costs, and the lower the loyalty of everyone involved. However, greater trust brings superior innovation, creativity, freedom, morale, and productivity.
A Lack of Trust Is Your Biggest Expense
In one of the largest and most extensive surveys of its kind, Watson Wyatt studied 12,750 U.S. workers in all major industries and work levels. According to the study, “Companies with high trust levels generated total returns to shareholders at almost three times that of companies with low levels of trust.”Whether you are a student or a CEO, a teacher or a parent, a politician or a nurse, trust multiplies influence and impact. A lack of trust is your biggest expense. Before we get too far, let’s define The Trust Edge.
Before I started my graduate research based on trust, I had been searching for the uniqueness of top leaders and organizations. Top leaders were defined as ones who were not only successful financially, but also made a significant positive influence in the lives of those they served over a period of time. Top leaders left individuals and organizations measurably better than they found them. What made these people and organizations unique? They all had one common trait—trust. I found that trust is not a soft skill. It is a measurable competency that brings dramatic results. It can be built into an organization’s strategy, goals, and culture.
The Trust Edge
When I was studying, I found that some top organizations and leaders clearly had a competitive edge over others. Those leaders or organizations that could weather storms, charge higher prices, maintain respect with customers and clients, and foster long-term growth were special. The greatest leaders and organizations of all time have had the same competitive edge. They were the most trusted. The Trust Edge is the competitive advantage gained when others confidently believe in you!
If you visit the Roman ruins or the synagogue in Capernaum, you will see that many parts of the structures have crumbled, but the pillars still stand. The pillars are the foundation for holding something up. They are strong, solid, and lasting. In the years I’ve spent studying the underlying connection between success and trust, I’ve identified eight key areas that are best described as Pillars. They are the bedrock that creates The Trust Edge. These pillars are applicable for anyone interested in establishing a foundation for genuine success.
Trust Impacts You
No matter your role, trust affects your influence and success. It affects every level of business, from Fortune 500 leaders to a family owned general store. It affects teaching outcomes and political votes. Those who are trusted are effective. When you focus on increasing your Trust Edge, you will enjoy greater success and impact. When you change yourself, you have the best chance of impacting your organization, family, relationships, and even your world.
David Horsager is a business strategist, professor, keynote speaker, and author of the new book “THE TRUST EDGE: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line” (Summerside Press, September 2011). His roster of past and present clients includes FedEx, Wells Fargo, American Express, ING, the Department of Homeland Security, Medtronic, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the Minnesota Vikings, Covidien, and John Deere Credit. For more information, visit http://www.davidhorsager.com/or