Trust Is Essential

TrustIn this increasingly complex, interconnected, unstable and difficult world, Trust is essential.  

The world is in upheaval as never before. Trust is the only way to smooth it out, to enable us to accomplish more, to be able to live in peace despite company closures, pandemics, natural disasters, massive lawsuits, unexpected and horrific personal events.  Major bad news is almost as constant as change.

Trust in our relationships with one another is the only answer – in our workplaces, in our homes, in our activities, in our efforts to help one another.  We can’t be effective without Trust. The question is HOW? How do we change our workplaces, our homes, our world to increase Trust?

We can make lots of rules and policies; we can establish organizational values and post them. Those reminders will help us but the only way to ensure that Trust will grow is for each of us to individually do all we can to build Trust in all our environments. The only way to build it is to first look to ourselves to be personally worthy of that Trust – with transparency, honesty, compassion, fairness, and open communication.  We have to be aware and accepting of our individual differences in all our activities, efforts and relationships.

Trust =

Focusing on building those attributes in ourselves consistently is tough. Ultimately, it takes our Trust in a Higher Power – in the power and love available to us – to enable us to be consistently trustworthy.  To change the world around us, and for us, WE individually have to be trustworthy.

Joy – It Leads to Organizational Resilience!

When people are fulfilled by their work, they experience joy! When the organization culture includes personnel development and involvement, joy is a frequent occurrence.

In a recent speech I described the gray line between work and play. Humans are the only species that seeks happiness. And the ultimate goal, the peak of happiness, is joy. 

Poets talk about “Joi de vivre” – the Joy of living. According to polls, the most popular and beloved of all classical music compositions is Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. 

I ended my 2014 book, “The DNA of the Resilient Organization – How One Collective Heartbeat Creates Continuous Competitive Advantage”, with a discussion of Joy in the workplace.  I have found that organizations that achieve internal organization unity frequently and regularly experience joy. And the greater the unity, the greater the organization resilience. It is circular.

I heard Steven Covey, highly regarded and best-selling author, recently finish a presentation with “Millennials value open, transparent, collaborative leadership style. Trust leads to Joy.”

Joy should be the goal of not just play but also of work! Both Play and Work can and should be a great source of Joy! You can’t sustain health – in mind, in body, or in any organizational body – without joy. When joy goes, health also deteriorates.

True unity, which is accomplished while building organizational resilience and sustainability, leads to joy. The greater the unity, the greater the joy, and the greater the organizational resilience.

Stephen Covey & Me: TRUST is the Magic Bullet

I was amazed to hear Stephen Covey’s presentation on “The Speed of Trust” at NASBA’s (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) annual conference for national and international accounting regulators.  It focused on the same concepts I developed over the last two decades which have brought me a lot of attention, but I didn’t know why.  After hearing Covey’s presentation, I finally know why! 

Covey’s presentation echoed the themes of an article I wrote in 2003, which were further developed in my recent book. The article“How to Implement Change Effectively”, was originally published in the Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance (John Wiley & Sons). 

Wiley & Sons editors suggested I write a book expanding on the article. The core themes of Trust and Collaboration, Transparency and Linking were the centerpiece of my subsequent book, “The DNA of the Resilient Organization – How One Collective Heartbeat Creates Continuous Competitive Advantage.  Published in late 2014, the book includes the strategies and steps needed to build long term resilience.  And now, 15 years after the initial article, Stephen Covey promotes these same core concepts!

Shortly after the book was published, Willamette University Atkinson Graduate School of Management asked me to develop and teach a course centered around the book, which I did in 2015-2016.  They said “no other university has yet linked the two disciplines you did – Organization Development and Risk Management – and we want to be the first in the country to offer it!”

In 2015, the 2003 article was selected as one of the Top Ten Articles of All-Time published in the Journal!  The selection criteria were: “frequency of access by readers” and “enduring usefulness of content.”  It was featured on the cover of the special issue of the Journal, “Best of JCAF” May/June 2015 Issue , in the #1 position.  Amazing!

After hearing Stephen’s presentation, I now understand why the article received so much attention. For organizational health and success, these concepts are the only Magic Bullet.  They are the centerpiece of all good organizational change strategies. Collaboration, Transparency and Linking are essential but they can’t be successfully implemented without developing and embedding Trust as the centerpiece of the culture.

According to Covey:  “Trust enables collaboration and partnering, leverages differences, and encourages calculated risk-taking.  People are drawn to high trust environments.”

“Millenials value open, transparent, collaborative leadership style. Trust leads to Joy!”  All these are themes from my award-winning article and in The DNA of the Resilient Organization.

Three additional key points about Trust from Covey:

  1. Trust is an economic driver, not just a social virtue.
  2. Trust is the #1 competency of leadership needed today – the ability is critical to every other factor.
  3. Trust is a learnable skill. It can even be recovered when lost.”
A culture of Trust and what it enables — true, open collaboration and communication, creativity, and risk-taking — builds strong, innovative and resilient organizations!

“Sports as a Business Example – Selfless Leaders Breed Trust!”

LeadersTeam sports provide good examples for important business concepts, even for those of us who haven’t been athletes or rabid fans. That’s because the concepts at work in sports are so physically visible and the results of changes are so immediate. Even the result of concept changes that normally develop over a longer term in business can frequently be seen in spectator sports over just a season. Helfrich - Ducks

The University of Oregon Ducks football team provided a good example, played out over just three months this year. The events dramatically displayed the incredible difference that a selfless leader can make. The leader is Mark Helfrich, the Duck’s new Head Coach. He replaced the highly acclaimed Chip Kelly, who built the Ducks from a mediocre team to a national threat in 2 seasons. (See my December 10, 2014 blog www.surangroup.com). Chip was a tough act to follow. But two seasons after Chip’s departure, the Ducks are in the Final Four, ranked at #2, and will play in the Rose Bowl.

How did that happen? Not easily. Most people didn’t believe that moving an untried Offensive Coordinator up from within the coaching staff would provide the same fire and drive to succeed that Chip did against the best teams in the country. Many people didn’t believe that Mark was as strong a leader as Chip Kelly. And then there was the terrible loss to Arizona early in the season, following disastrous injuries to key players. Those events shook everyone’s confidence even more, including the team’s confidence in themselves. How did doubt in themselves totally turn around? How did the Ducks get to the #2 ranking in the Final Four?

Jason Quick, Sports Reporter for The Oregonian, asked that question and found the answer. He reported it in his December 21, 2014 editorial: A selfless leader. A selfless leader breeds Trust. And Trust enables Resilience. Here’s how that worked with the Oregon Ducks. In the locker room after the horrible loss, a devastated team expected a lashing from their Coach. Instead, they received an apology; Coach Helfrich blamed himself and talked about what he and the other coaches needed to do to better prepare the team for future games.

Because he took responsibility for the loss himself, as their leader and coach, they trusted him. He talked about what everyone, as a team, including himself, needed to work on. He helped them to understand that together, working on details, they could improve their process and better respond to challenges.

Mark Helfrich proved that he would lead the changes by doing things differently himself. He paid more attention to areas that he hadn’t focused on in the past. He paid more attention to details and helped everyone else to do the same. That approach helped everyone to believe even more in one another and in their proven process for winning. He increased the level of Trust in the entire Team. The players said it was because, “After we lost, he was the first person to believe in us. . . He was the first one to stand up and take ownership and take some of the blame . . .”

Because of Mark’s selflessness, his ability to take some blame and change himself, everyone was willing to assess themselves. They immediately made changes that helped the UofO Ducks to win all the remaining games – decisively. The DNA of the Resilient OrganizationResilience, built with Trust, enables that response.