vistage1Last week I had the honor of speaking on Building Trust to three different groups of chief executives in Austin, TX. These were highly engaged members of Vistage International, an organization dedicated to helping leaders of small to mid-size businesses seize opportunities, solve problems, and learn from world-class speakers. It was great to see how interested each of the attendees were in how they could personally build more trust within their companies. Plus, being based in Ohio, it was the first time in months for short sleeves!

Top leaders often get a bad rap when it comes to trust, and I must admit this is not completely undeserved. In my experience though, the problem is not that that these executives are untrustworthy. It is more that they can seem so focused on the bottom line that a key element of trust – the interpersonal relationship itself – does not get the attention it deserves. So a significant portion of my talks focused there.

First it was the Industrial Age, then came the Information Age. Now that every customer and competitor has access to all the same information, a company’s only sustainable competitive advantages are its cohesiveness and ability to leverage the insights of every employee. Without trust this does not happen; the Trust Age has begun.

Bucking conventional wisdom, I contend that trust is not a “soft” skill. Yes, it is difficult to measure… but its presence is very real and so are its consequences. Companies whose employees trust each other outperform those who don’t. They have more fun, enjoy less turnover, make better decisions, and handle surprises in stride rather than crisis.

During my talks with the Austin leaders, we spent time on the often overlooked skill of effective listening. Most people – and leaders in particular – have a tendency to stop listening once they catch a word or two that triggers thoughts on how to solve the problem. As a result, people often feel discounted or rushed, which frequently leads to communication breakdowns. Under the guise of “being helpful”, these bosses can actually sabotage the very thing they want most: confident, motivated employees who can make good decisions on their own. Thankfully, with a little practice, leaders can learn to slow down, listen fully and guide people through their options without becoming the “answer woman.”

Another key concept we discussed was the importance of creating a Daily Dashboard. This information snapshot is used to deliver the status of the business very easily… like looking through your car’s dashboard and knowing whether your business is safely on the right road. Ideally, the daily dashboard should be:

  • Unique to every business,
  • Readily available to all,
  • Used to convey the important numbers, trends and projections for this month,
  • Easily understood by every employee without help or interpretation, and
  • The primary scoreboard: if the dashboard #’s look great, the business is doing great!

I’ll leave you with this final thought. Your leaders want to trust you and to be trusted by you. When this happens your organization will reach new heights of performance and morale, plus you will rest easier knowing that the boss has your back. Your manager has a role to play in creating this – and so do you.


This blog and the entire Building Trust, LLC portfolio of services are dedicated to helping you thrive. Contact me if I can be of service or reserve your spot in the next Building Trust Experience Public Session being held on July 8th and 9th.



In Case You Missed It: 

Check out the newest Building Trust YouTube video: The Bride Not The Veil.


Take a listen to the recent Building Trust radio spot feature on: “Your Business, Your Legacy.”