Trust vanishes. In an unexpected way, distrust prepares the comeback of trust. Distrust sets the correction required, and business leaders can be the example.

Gain Trust: A Place to Begin

A Trust Depression exists. A saving element is the view of business. In the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, 3 out of 4 respondents “agree a company can take actions to both increase profits and improve economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.” For those who do not believe “the system” is working for them, 58 percent say they trust business the most.

For business leaders, an opportunity exists to be a big player in restoring trust. Will we take the opportunity? Will we embrace the responsibility?

What business leaders need to do is to distrust. By distrusting, better plans develop. It sounds unnatural, but give it a moment to think through.


Businesses: The Brink of Distrust

“Yet business finds itself on the brink of distrust, and perhaps most concerning for business is the perceived role the public sees it playing in stoking their fears.” Businesses have their feet at the trust ledge. In the 2017 Trust Barometer, the concerns:

  • 60 percent worries about losing their jobs due to the impacts of globalization
  • 60 percent worry about the lack of training or skills
  • 58 percent fear immigrants who work for less
  • 55 percent fear jobs moving to cheaper markets and 54 percent fear automation

The challenge. While people have faith in business as a positive force, the concerns about the business impact are deep. Navigating between trust and fear and change and status quo is challenging and stifling. Changes are inevitable yet wrong moves crater trust.

Distrust to Trust: A Path Forward

What business leaders need to do is to distrust. By distrusting, better plans develodistrust yourself to gain trustp. It sounds unnatural, but give it a moment to think through.

Begin to distrust your convictions

Most business leaders have strong convictions. Strong convictions built strong careers. Strong convictions also make old solutions seem applicable to new problems and challenges.

To distrust our convictions means we must question our assumptions. We must engage new information and think through what it means for our products, services, and offerings. Intertwined is what it will do for our team members, partners, and stakeholders.

With better information and analysis, we need to craft new plans that include how to help employees, customers, and partners make the change with us. Nothing will be easy for all involved, but it will be better when we think through our plans for all involved. Woven in these actions, trust recovers because our efforts show it.

Begin to distrust you are the best leader you can be

As leaders age, they believe they have the skills, knowledge, and talent to push them to the finish line. However, just as the environment in which the business has changed, how we lead has changed, too.

Leaders need to distrust that they are the best they can be and begin to learn new leadership skills and enhance existing ones. No leader is too young or too old to learn a new skill or capability. Our leadership demands it, and our teams require it.

When people see business leaders change, their trust strengthens. Not only are the workers supposed to change but the leaders need to as well.

No matter how successful our leadership has been, we need to break certain habits and create new ones.

Begin to distrust that the status quo will protect others

Business leaders work in a realm that is comfortable. Change can happen “out there” but not “in here.” The status quo rarely protects anyone.

Distrusting status quo is healthy as cracks are uncovered. Distrusting status quo is not change for change sake. It is change for better outcomes.

We cannot afford to stand still or turn back to another time and place. Moving forward is the better option. When moving forward becomes the better option, it is by:

  • Solving problems in thoughtful and collaborative ways
  • Communicating why the change is needed and how we will help
  • Focusing on the long term while supporting the short-term transitions

Distrust your urge for inaction. Act upon what is right and necessary to educate more fully and collaborate more diversely.

Begin to distrust that economic and social change will be positive for others (eventually)

Economic and social changes happen often. Some may embrace it all the time and at all costs. An essential point is that there are costs to economic and social change. Some will be left behind, and others will work to thwart change.

We cannot view economic and social changes as all positive. Reality says otherwise. Instead, we need to understand what the pains will be, as best we can, and develop a care plan to assist in the transitions.

What lacks in many social and economic changes is clear communication. We want to lay low until it all blows over, and it never blows over quickly. We need to step up and communicate what to expect through the changes and how certain plans are working to help others through the changes.

We need to work together through the change. In doing so, trust holds us accountable.

Distrust Enables Trust

A healthy distrust of what we always have known enables a new trust to arise. As leaders, we get stuck in our own little worlds. We need to disrupt ourselves, just as others are disrupted in any change. Outdated ways rarely inspire trust. We can learn from history, but we must apply history to lead in more transparent and inclusive ways.

Distrust is to leadership what disrupt is to innovation. Distrust our obsolete thoughts and solutions to restore trust in change and betterment.

Achieving the mission of growth in trust will empower more people in more places toward a more positive future.

 What will you distrust to regain and strengthen trust?