Doug Conant, Center for Higher Ambition Leadership board member and chair of the Center’s Higher Ambition Leadership Institute, recently co-authored a compelling article for Harvard Business Review with Stephen M.R. Covey on the topic of trust. Their evidence-based argument is that trust building is not a nice-to-have “soft” skill but rather a core competency for leaders–one tied directly to bottom-line performance.
The Business Case for Trust
Among the evidence cited by Conant and Covey:
The Great Place to Work Institute partners with Fortune to produce the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in which trust comprises two-thirds of the criteria, since their research shows that “trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces.” These companies beat “the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three.”
Similarly, an advocacy group, Trust Across America, tracks the performance of America’s most trustworthy public companies and has found that the most trustworthy companies have outperformed the S&P 500. Furthermore, a 2015 study by Interaction Associates shows that high-trust companies “are more than 2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organizations” than low-trust companies.
That’s evidence compelling enough to turn the head of even the toughest executive.
How to Build Trust
Conant shared three key trust-building practices he developed over his career at Nabisco and Campbell Soup Company:
- Declare Intent: Make your agenda and motivation clear;
- Demonstrate Respect: Show that you recognize the contributions of others in tangible ways;
- Deliver Results: Provide indisputable evidence that you can do what you promise.
Consistently and intentionally engaging in these three practices can build enduring trust in you and the organization. The results will be seen in engagement and commitment from workers that translate into improved performance.
We could not agree more with Covey’s statement that, “most organizational performance issues are actually trust issues in disguise.” Trust is central to both the aspiration and achievement of a company’s Higher Ambition. Read the full article for more details on Conant and Covey’s approach to building a high-trust, high-performance culture.