I am honored to share with you a guest post from Frank Sonnenberg. It is adapted from his wonderful new book, Managing with a Conscience: How to Improve Performance Through Integrity, Trust, and Commitment (2nd edition). Frank is a marketing strategist and top marketing author who has written four books and published over 300 articles.
Trust is the fabric that binds us together, creating an orderly, civilized society from chaos and anarchy.
If we can’t trust our husband or our wife, if we can’t trust our children, if we can’t trust our boss or our colleagues, if we can’t trust our preacher or our senator, then we have nothing on which to build a stable way of life. Trust is not an abstract, theoretical, idealistic goal forever beyond our reach. Trust—or a lack of it—is inherent in every action that we take and affects everything that we do.
Trust is the cement that binds relationships, keeping spouses together, business deals intact, and political systems stable. Without trust, marriages fail, voters become apathetic, and organizations flounder. Without trust, no company can ever hope for excellence.
There has, however, been a deep, fundamental change in the way we view the world today, and, as a result, trust is no longer fashionable. Few adults can remember a world without cynicism. Where “death do us part” once had meaning, today one of two new marriages ends in divorce and countless others exist in name only. Politicians who were once solid members of the community are dropping out of campaigns due to scandals and irregularities. Employees who once believed in devoting their entire working lives to one organization have seen so many colleagues tossed out in restructurings and outsourcings that those who remain are often left emotionally uninvolved in their jobs.
The trust deficit is a sea change from the time when a person’s word was his bond, when employees worked for one company until they retired, when business deals were made on the basis of “I know your father” or “We’ve worked with your company before.”
These were all ways of saying we recognize your values, understand how much your reputation means to you, and know how you conduct business. These values resulted in increased business, stronger customer loyalty, better employee morale, reduced turnover, and higher profit margins.
If businesses are to thrive in the global marketplace, trust must be more than something that is talked about; it must be at the core of everything that is done. Organizations cannot be jungles where only the fittest survive, living in a state of battle readiness in order to meet the grueling tests of everyday corporate life.
In organizations, trust is like love in a marriage: it bonds people together and makes them strong and effective.
Trust in a relationship increases security, reduces inhibitions and defensiveness, and frees people to share feelings and dreams. Trust empowers you to put your deepest fears in the palms of your colleagues’ hands, knowing that they will be treated with care. Trust enables you to be yourself and maintain your own values without worrying about acceptance. Trust makes colleagues willing to spend time together and make sacrifices for one another. Trust is an expression of faith that makes it easy for colleagues to have confidence in one another’s ability to perform well and to know that they will be there if needed. Trust means that promises made will be kept, and it also means that if a promise is not kept, it was probably for good cause. And finally, trust means that a relationship will last not because it is good business, but because the relationship itself is valued.
What can each of us do to ensure trust is “fashionable” once again?
IndustryWeek named the first edition of Managing with a Conscience one of the Top Ten Business Books of the Year. Trust Across America named Sonnenberg one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders of 2010. In 2011, Social Media Marketing Magazine (SMM) selected Sonnenberg as one of the top marketing authors in the world on Twitter (@FSonnenberg, @A_Conscience). To learn more about Frank visit his blog: http://www.franksonnenbergonline.com “Our mission is to spur conversation about the urgent need to reawaken personal values and personal responsibility.” © 2011 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.