Trust in business is the ultimate currency. If strong, trust holds great stores of value with company stakeholders, employees, customers, and the public. Compared to other company culture strategies that businesses undertake, trust is easier to achieve with intentional effort.

High-trust organizations perform better. 62% of consumers are attracted to companies that exhibit ethical values and authenticity. A lack of trust, on the other hand, can be catastrophic. Look at congress for example. A lack of trust between colleagues hinders execution by the government which harms trust with constituents.

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Integrity is Trust in Action

It all starts with integrity – you deliver what you say. You do what you say. Leaders are more genuine and display the values they preach in both their professional and private lives. Ideally, trust is a structural pillar that forms the foundation of your entire life. People can sense the discontinuity between the two and will interact with your company and its leadership accordingly. How you treat food service is a common example. We all know someone who is a perfect professional but might treat their waiter/tress harshly at a lunch meeting.

This isn’t to say people in that situation lack good morals, but it does create a perceived disconnect between how they lead their lives compared to the values they preach and demand from others in their business lives.

Transparency Creates ‘Trust Equity’ with Our Customers and Workforce

It is much easier to lose trust than gain it. It takes constant diligence, there are remedies to build and protect trust but it is achieved through expensive and exhaustive compliance and legal management. This recipe dilutes the final product within the company culture and thus creates a discontinuity between actions and words. So ultimately, while you are compliant and have achieved some form of trust equity with your workforce, it is a shallow and fragile bond at best.

Transparency fosters trust in the form of vulnerability, humility, and accountability. An example of leadership is the practice of soliciting honest and nuanced feedback that is acknowledged and then used to apply future action. An inability to admit mistakes or shortcomings.

Technology is a Catalyst for Trust in Business

The way trust is established or destroyed has been flipped on its head in recent years because of technology. Technology is a connector. It has exponentially increased our access to both people and services. This by itself eliminates many traditional barriers to entry.

On the flip side, the access provided by technology also rips back the curtains into business operations and our personal lives alike. This makes companies and their figureheads more vulnerable and accountable to their stakeholders, employees, and the general public. What this means is that ‘trust equity’ might be easier to gain but more vital than ever to nurture. Once lost, trust is harder than ever to recapture.

Trust in Business is Easy to Lose and Difficult to Earn Back

Ultimately, if your company leadership does not prioritize a culture of trust, you are more likely to be exposed and may suffer harsher consequences.

Take Uber as a prime example. Good branding and easy-to-use technology made it easier than ever to get a ride. Technology seamlessly removed most consumers’ inhibitions about getting into a stranger’s vehicle. Overnight, technology bypassed and obsoleted the extensive compliance and overhead that came with running a traditional taxi or limo service.

With that said, the following years of history have validated contrasting points. While Uber’s ideas and technology were revolutionary, its leadership lacked some core values of trust that have ultimately plagued it for years. Among many scandals, the most relevant to this article is likely the leaked video tirade of Uber’s CEO while riding his own service.

There are fewer examples that are more indicative of a company’s culture than its CEO’s conduct. Here is an example of technology tearing back the curtain and creating accountability for companies that fail to walk the talk. Since said video, Uber remains unprofitable. The company continues to put out one fire after another while competitors like Lyft remain more stable and grow faster.