Trust has always been an integral part of the human experience.
When we think about trust, we can all associate intuitively with its benefits and a number of the valuable feelings and results the experience of deep trust can deliver.
Trust can bring us joy, dependability, comfort, economic benefit, productivity and effectiveness.
So the value of trust, while it is often recognised, is often underestimated.
So, what’s changed?
We are in the age of the customer and empowerment, of scrutiny, complexity and accountability.
Trust has never been more critical and never been more challenging to build, protect and maintain.
And, despite the rise of global research and community acceptance of the importance of trust, the ability to manage it well has escaped many.
In a leadership context the impact of trust can have be significant in several dimensions of corporate performance.
And there is much the leader can do to positively impact the perceptions, the behaviour and the performance of those who are following.
Further, the level of trust people have in an institution or a system can materially shape the approach they take within that system including whether and the extent to which they follow leaders.
Trust in leaders can also have a strong impact on certainty and confidence and, therefore on alignment as well as individual and collective performance.
Trust is felt – it is experienced and often in the moment. It is a state of mind and can lead to trusting action.
Trust is complex.
Trust can be filled with confusion, misunderstanding and paradox.
Trust is nuanced. We may, for example have a level of distrust in the intentions of senior management of a major bank yet have a high degree of trust that our savings in an account there are safe.
Trust can be both rational and emotional.
Trust in the organisation can be a function of the level of trust in the people inside that organisation, for example, the CEO or the Directors both of which are experiencing unprecedented scrutiny in our communities.
And the role of personal and corporate communication is central to shaping a narrative and to engaging stakeholders in a manner which supports the creation and preservation of trust.
At an organisational level, there are many ways to shape and to evidence reliability or trust. These include culture and organisational values and practice including diversity, environmental responsibility, and leadership behaviour.
So trust must be taken seriously. It’s inherent fragility must be protected. And its state must be systematically built and maintained.