I don’t think any CEO (or, for that matter, any layperson) would disagree with me if I said that being trusted is a powerful asset for a business. It makes sense that if you are in business, you would want your customers, employees, shareholders, the regulators, the man on the street and media to trust you, rather than the other way around.

Read the full article at: www.weforum.org

It’s almost as though Sridharan Nair thought he had to provide us with something really solid about how to measure and build trust before he could discuss what seems to be the more philosophical crux of his article for the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Rest assured, Nair provides the information. “I firmly believe that trust can be a tangible asset for a business, one that can grow the bottom line and which will see you through the difficult times. So what if I were to say that there is a way to measure trust – and that it does bring quantifiable and long-term financial benefit to your business?”

Nair then provides the results of PwC research on the question: “What makes up trust in a business – and can it be quantified?”  He explains that people think three elements must be present before a company can be considered trustworthy.  He discusses how these elements manifest themselves (and can be measured) in terms of customer loyalty and employee turnover.  He then goes on to give three ways a company can build trust.

It’s the solid, actionable information Nair needed us to know.  Telling us allowed him to punch his ticket-to-ride to go to the heart of the matter.

He begins, “My parting point is this. Beyond the fact that being trusted or trustworthy can bring your business immeasurable benefit, there is a more ethereal reason at stake here – where matters of the heart come into play.

“Think of the numerous tales that have gone viral of good Samaritans on the road, strangers helping stranded fellow road users change their tyres. While these are simple acts, today we are so used to being cautioned against road rage and carjacking, that hearing there are still people who only mean well, is heart-warming to say the least.

“These stories resonate with all of us. The fact is in today’s climate there seems to be a real lack of faith in institutions – all over the world and closer to home in Malaysia. Yet, there is a deep desire in all of us to be able to put our faith in something.

“So why can’t businesses be that something?

“My challenge then to corporate leaders and those in business really is to bet our bottom dollar on trust-building, because it does make a difference. In my books, at the end of the day, it’s the only thing that does matter.”

Now that’s a challenge that makes us sit up and take notice. Nair is not only confirming that being trustworthy is good business, he’s taking it one giant step further.  He’s challenging business to be the “something” that helps restore eroded institutional trust.  What a compelling thought.  Cynics will cite Sarbanes–Oxley, vehicle emissions, pharmaceutical scandals, and consumer scams as proof this is a daunting, if not impossible stretch.

But is it?  The desire to put our faith in “something” is real. The desire to do more than just make and sell widgets is real. The desire of people to do meaningful work and be part of something larger than themselves is real.  So, why not try to become “that something” as Nair suggests?  We certainly have little to lose. Statistics show consistent patterns of deteriorating trust. Why not openly and purposefully strive to reverse the trend and attempt to rebuild and restore trust?

Each of us can contribute.  From the way we treat our peers, to our employees, to our company, to our customers, to our society.  Each of us on a daily basis has the power to build or break the trust of those around us.

We all would do well to seriously consider what Nair is proposing… and then, perhaps, take his challenge.

Contact us and we can help you better understand how leaders can instill trust and create a work environment where trust and respect can thrive.