Organizational Distrust Is Rampant: Why Leaders Should Be Worried

*As originally seen on

Distrust is rampant. It’s worldwide. It’s pervasive across all types of organizations in the business world. Even though the trust of CEOs is at an all-time low, we can help heal the distrust that may exist in your organization and boost your trust-factor among your tribe.

Are you ready?


You Can’t Buy Trust

Organizations can’t ‘buy’ the trust of their team, but they can create and foster it through increasing engagement and avoiding common pitfalls.

A tribe that continuously activates the reward network — smart tribe — is more productive and effective.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - Pain and Pleasure

via UCLA

A tribe that continuously activates the pain network suffers from three common leadership pitfalls:

• Pitfall #1: Asking for feedback yet not acting on it

• Pitfall #2: Unemotional or not compelling mission, vision values

• Pitfall #3: Ineffective delegation

When we activate the reward network, an organization inspires intrinsic motivation in their tribe. This intrinsic motivation creates an environment where your talent wants to rise up, be accountable, honor the organization’s mission, vision, values and deliver consistent results.

Thanks to Seth Godin, here is a clearly laid out map to ensure you’re building trust most effectively. While this applies to marketing your brand, you are not only marketing your brand to your customers, but you are marketing your brand to your potential and existing talent within your tribe. Potential talent interacts with your brand far before the interview ever takes place. Once hired, talent will continue to interact with your brand ongoing.

Here are  Seth’s nine factors/aspects of building a powerful brand that inspires trust:

• Word Of Mouth: If I’ve heard good things about you, I am more inclined to trust you.

• Direct Interaction: Have you already interacted with me?

• Tone Of Voice: Does the tone build the relationship and foster Safety, Belonging, Mattering?

• Offer: What’s in it for me to listen to what you have to say? Do I gain more if I listen with an engaged and sympathetic ear?

• Size Of Leap: What are you asking me to do? How big is it?

• Tribal Affiliation: Are you one of us? Am I one of you?

• Perception Of Transparency: When I can understand your intention, I’m more inclined to trust you.

• Longevity: How long have you been showing up? How do you consistently treat your tribe?

• Mass Acceptance: When I hear about you from other tribe members, what are they saying? Is what they are saying, positive or negative, based in truth (perceived or real)?


Trust Drives Talent

Accountability is deeply tied to promises and trust. Safety, belonging, and mattering are quickly damaged when accountability is dropped. In previous blogs, I have discussed how as leaders, it’s key when administering consequences to determine if accountability is being dropped because the person is in their Critter State and is stuck, or if they are intentionally uncooperative.

In my experience, trust is broken in three levels: capability, commitment and character. The same applies to how trust is broken and egos are triggered from the perception of your tribe.

• Capability: Is the organization truly capable of doing what was promised? Capability breaches of trust are the easiest to fix if a company moves swiftly and is transparent.

• Commitment: Is the organization committed to following through on what was promised? Commitment breaches can be tricky. When an organization repeatedly drops commitments, we must find out what the underlying cause is. This can be achieved through leaders working with an executive coach and discovering/determining what they truly want to achieve using the Outcome Frame. This can also be achieved by listening to the feedback from the tribe.

• Character: If an organization keeps making promises and breaking them, who are they, really? An empowered and engaged tribe wants to be part of an organization they can count on. Character breaches are the hardest to fix since the tribe now doubts what the organization totally stands for.

Breaches in capability, commitment and character can take months or even years of demonstrating consistency to win back trust. The organizations that I’ve worked with typically see positive results begin within 6-18 months, depending on the level of Critter State among their team and the severity of the breach.

Trust Drives ROI

According to Paul J. Zak, founding director for the Center of Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, “In its 2016 global CEO survey, PwC reported that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth. But most have done little to increase trust, mainly because they aren’t sure where to start.”

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report:

• 74% less stress

• 106% more energy at work

• 50% higher productivity

• 13% fewer sick days

• 76% more engagement

• 29% more satisfaction with their lives

• 40% less burnout

Two practices to increase trust:

1. Look at Seth’s nine criteria above and scale yourself 1-5 (5 being the highest)and this will show you where you need to work.

2. Consider your organization’s capability, commitment, and character. How are you doing?

Wisdom from Rules for Renegades – More on your GSD Degree (Get Stuff DONE!)

Frequent Flying with the Fab Four

The key to your GSD is to avoid being overly pushy, which turns people off and makes them back away from helping you. I’ll admit that it’s been a lifelong challenge for me to learn when to back off if I’m coming on too strong and to appreciate that other people sometimes enjoy a stroll instead of a sprint. I rein myself in by frequently using the four most important phrases in business and life:

·         “Please”
·         “Thank you”
·         “I’m sorry”
·         “I don’t know”

I can’t tell you how often I’ve decided against hiring someone, agreeing to be a mentor, or taking on a client because he or she can’t say these four simple things. The first two require basic manners. When you say “please” you’re reminding yourself and acknowledging to others that nobody owes you anything and their help to you is a gift. When you say, “thank you” you’re taking the time to acknowledge that effort and gift. Both phrases require a quality of awareness that transcends simple manners. They’re the essence of good business and good living.

Christine Comaford, Business Accelerator
CEO of Mighty Ventures, Inc.
Author of NY Times Best Seller, Rules for Renegades

Wisdom from Rules for Renegades – More on your GSD Degree (Get Stuff DONE!)

As an intrapreneur you’ll need your GSD available all the time, and often it involves acting like an owner of the business. Harold, a procurement manager at a manufacturing company, wanted real-time quotes from suppliers in order to reduce costs, avoid overpaying, and improve operational efficiency. He repeatedly cost-justified the company’s need for this system, and eventually management considered it by hiring a pricey consulting firm to do a four-month assessment! Harold was mortified—four months to render an opinion? He convinced his boss to let him do an experiment, which would require a few hours a day from his team for a few weeks. The initial progress was so positive that his boss gave him more time, and in three months his team had built a real-time quote system. Management realized their error, increased their faith in the expertise of their staff, and let the consultants go. GSDs in hand, Harold’s team has saved the company over $300 million to date.

Got your own GSD Degree story? Send it to me as a comment and get featured in an upcoming blog.

Christine Comaford