Revaluing Trust

Revaluing Trust: Shifting from WHY back to HOW

Editor’s Note: This post is part of the series “Return on Trust,” a weeklong effort provided by some very special invited guests. Be sure to keep track of the series here and check out our daily e-mail newsletter. Don’t subscribe? Sign up.

We are at a global tipping point, where the significant risk and costs of dis-trust (disengaged trust) are increasingly being exposed and experienced across a range of industries and professions. What is of major concern however, is that much of the current identification and management of the risk and costs associated with dis-trust, are reactionary. In other words, the catalyst is often some level of ‘negative exposure’ occurring, which forces the hand of executive leaders to take some kind of reactionary and corrective action.

What’s going on to cause this need to revalue trust in our business and personal lives is that most of us would readily admit that we get WHY trust is important, and that’s part of the problem.

While we might ‘get’ that trust is the foundation upon which all business (and personal) relationships rely on to flourish and prosper, the problem is, because we just ‘get’ that trust is important, it just ‘gets’ taken for granted. And when things are taken for granted, they become undervalued. The reason many of us are feeling like there is a potential crisis of trust at the moment, is due to a large part because trust itself has unintentionally become undervalued.

Much of the current identification and management of the risk and costs associated with dis-trust, are reactionary

So how do we intentionally revalue trust? Most of us could probably have a fair go at describing what trust looks like and what trust feels like. And we also know what it feels like and looks like when trust is lost. But what about when trust is at risk?

What’s required is a shift in focus from our obvious understanding of WHY trust is important, to HOW do we consciously, intentionally and proactively not only earn and maintain trust, but also to intentionally, mindfully and proactively manage the potential of significantly negative impact of the risk and costs of dis-trust, or what I refer to as disengaged trust.

And while this article will focus on business, the relevance of trust being at risk is equally as important in our personal lives because When Trust Is At Risk, Everything Is At Risk!

While we might ‘get’ that trust is the foundation upon which all business (and personal) relationships rely on to flourish and prosper, the problem is, because we just ‘get’ that trust is important, it just ‘gets’ taken for granted.

A quote attributed to Aristotle is “Our actions and behaviors are our morals shown in conduct.” Everything we say, everything we do sends loud and clear messages to the world about who we are and what we represent… our morals, our character, and our intentions ‘in action’.

In my language, what that means is People Get Your Truth. Over time, your intentions, promises, actions and results will either promote you as someone people can trust, or expose you as untrustworthy.

Revaluing Trust through Identifying and Proactively Managing The Risk & Costs of Dis-Trust!

Just to emphasise the point that dis-trust comes with significant risk and costs to any corporation, consider the following potential impact that disengaged trust can have:

  • Lower productivity/efficiency
  • Increased re-work/blame/stress
  • Increased client complaints and Loss of existing clients/revenue
  • Negative exposure of brand/reputation/social media
  • Loss of potential new business/revenue
  • Significant legal costs, prosecution/fines

This is not ‘soft’ philosophy. Regardless of your industry or profession, the risk and costs of dis-trust is one of the biggest threats to the on-going success of any business.

OK, so we know WHY trust is important, but what can be done.

The Solution To Proactively Managing The Risk and Costs of Dis-Trust


The solution requires an intentional investment of time and resources in a framework, a process that makes the individual daily actions of building trust readily understandable, and practically implemented by everyone across the organization, and is measurable on both an implementation and results level for ongoing management, coaching and mentoring.

The three levels of trust (and their associated drivers) that need to be addressed so as to avoid and manage the risk and costs associated with dis-trust, are outlined in The Triangle of Three Trusts model on the left.

While it’s easy to say that you don’t get trust and that you earn it, the reality is, that requires focused attention on the confidence, courage and competence of all management and employees to be proactively managing and avoiding the risks and costs created by dis-trust, through the daily implementation of clearly understood and articulated intentions, promises, actions and results.

This is what is required for trust-building in action.

To establish a Corporate Culture of Intentional Trust that is practical and implementable, measurable and most importantly, aligned with the personal values of the executive leadership team and right through to front-line personnel, the Intentionomics Trust Model on the right, provides the framework and blueprint to help individuals, teams and leaders to:

  1. Clearly articulate their intentions for all stakeholders they impact through their job roles (what they want for their stakeholders, and not what they want from them).
  2. Clearly articulate their intentional promises for all stakeholders they impact through their job roles (including clarity on what they can and cannot promise to enable successful management of expectations).
  3. Clearly demonstrate everyday intentional actions that are aimed at fulfilling the intentional promises of all stakeholders impacted by their job roles.
  4. Clearly measure and hold themselves and others accountable for achieving the intentional results required of their job role to deliver on the intentional promises for all stakeholders impacted through their job roles.

As can be seen in the model above, Trust rests on top of the three pillars of trust – Intentional Promises, Intentional Actions and Intentional Results. Trust is not just about WHY… it’s also about WHO (which is about our character). While Intention is the foundation upon which the pillars of trust sit, the ability of leaders within any organisation to manage and avoid the risk and costs associated with dis-trust relies on individuals to manage their self-trust, trust in others and capacity for others to trust in them. The Intentionomics Trust model provides the framework to achieve this.

To revalue trust, we need to take stock of our truth about the devaluing of the importance of our individual and collective character. That means clarity of intention, which is far more than just WHY we do what we do… it’s being clear about what we want for the people we impact in our lives, not just what we want from them.

Trust matters. Integrity matters. Character matters. And most importantly, accountability matters.

Being clear on your intention, promises, actions and results, is the blueprint required to revalue trust, to earn and maintain trust, and to proactively and intentionally manage the potential risk and costs associated with dis-trust.


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David Penglase is one of Australia’s leading corporate educators, specialising on the impact of intentional trust on all aspects of our business and personal success. David is one of Australia’s most sought after professional conference speakers, delivering engaging, entertaining and inspiring keynotes and masterclasses to large conference audiences locally and internationally across a wide range of industries, and has been inducted into the Australian professional speakers’ Hall of Fame. He is a prolific researcher and writer, and his latest book, Intentionomics practically outlines the science behind the impact of our intentions on living happy, flourishing and prosperous lives. David has degrees in business and human resource development. He has an MBA and a Master degree in Professional Ethics. He is currently completing a Master Degree in Applied Positive Psychology.

  • Hege Norheim, SVP Statoil

    Thank you for inspiring text! The strugle for corporate world to deserve trust is absolutely there. But probably not any worse than for politicians or media… And so somehow management of corporates are also only people and their distrust in others (media, politicians) shows in their dealings with external context… It seems to be a bad spriral. I guess we are back to leadership. And some individuals that rise above the ‘blame game’ or short-termism and show leadership.

  • Hege, I’m sorry for the slow reply… I missed your comment until just now. Research from the World Economic Forum (The Evolution of Trust in Business – From Delivery to Values) and the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer annual global study support your comments that trust is indeed at a global tipping point. Politicians, media, and as we’ve been discussing here… leadership. The world needs intentional and trustworthy leadership – but then, hasn’t it always? Warmly, David

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