According to Edelman’s 2018 Global Trust Barometer Report, at just 45%, the level of trust in Australian business is the lowest it’s been since 2012.

But what is trust; why is it so important to business and whose responsibility is it to cultivate?

The importance of trust

The Oxford English dictionary defines trust as: The firm belief in the reliability, truth, and ability of someone or something.

Trust is therefore a key driver of loyalty. If your customers, employees or investors do not trust in you or your organisation – that is, they do not firmly believe that you are reliable, that you are truthful or that you are capable of delivering on your promises – they will not stick around for very long.

Just think about your friendship circle or your professional network. We seek to surround ourselves with people we trust. If that trust is broken, the relationship becomes damaged, sometimes beyond repair.

The same is true for organisations, which is why in today’s distrustful world, building – or rebuilding – a reputation of trust should to be a strategic priority for all organisations. 

Who is responsible for cultivating trust?

The Edelman Barometer Report suggests the job of building this reputation of trust lies at the top, with 69% citing it as the number one priority for CEOs.

Now, that’s not to say the entire reputation of a company rests on the shoulders of its CEO or senior leaders. Reputation comes from the sum of experience across the whole organisation. However, research has also shown that 50% of a company’s reputation can be attributed to the reputation of its CEO. And 60% of a company’s market value is in turn driven by it’s corporate reputation. You just have to look at Elon Musk and Telsa to see this in action.

How can you cultivate trust?

One of the top drivers of a leader’s reputation is their ability to establish and maintain trust by being consistently truthful and delivering on promises.

So, whether you are a CEO, a Managing Director or General Manager, a Vice-President or Director or team leader – make building trust a priority by following these three golden rules:

  • Always tell the truth – be open, honest and authentic in your words, actions and behaviours
  • Always keep your word – if you say you are going to do something, do it.
  • Always be accountable – we’re all human and sometimes things go wrong or get delayed. If they do, act quickly to accept responsibility and own the consequences.

If you hold yourself to the highest standards of integrity you will start to cultivate a reputation of trust amongst your stakeholders and earn their loyalty as a result.