Monday, January 25, 2016

Trust - it's no accident

One of the things that Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO and CoFounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World™ (TAA-TAW), has succeeded in driving home in her intensive work over the past two decades, is that trust in business is no accident. Trustworthy business is underpinned by trustworthy people. Trustworthy people advance trust in business through their words and actions, and the compatibility of the former with the latter. Doing business without trust is like running a marathon with a blindfold. You might keep running but who knows where you will end up. You could also fall and break your leg.
Trust is at the root of any successful business. But while that may sound obvious, we all know the consequences of lack of trustworthiness. Martin Winterkorn might want to weigh in here, alongside a thousand others I could mention. I don't believe that trustworthy characteristics are the product of a carefully conceived strategy. I believe that trustworthy business leaders were trustworthy before they were business leaders. I believe it's part of who they are. So why should we celebrate people for doing business in a trustworthy way, just because that's the way they are? Shouldn't trustworthiness be a minimum acceptable baseline? Does it deserve recognition?
Yes it does. Because no matter how deeply entrenched your personal trust characteristics are, there are many temptations along the way. So many conflicting interests to appease, so many challenging targets to achieve, so much competitive and regulatory noise, so many demands, so many corners available to cut, so many new challenges that emerge from new market dynamics. Even the most trustworthy of us might be tempted to ease off around the edges in order to protect assets developed and reputation hard-earned. Corporate leaders that rise above the noise and stay true to a backbone of trustworthy character in all their undertakings are an inspiration for us all. A little celebration of trustworthiness can only serve to reinforce it.
Similarly, capturing and embedding trustworthiness throughout a large organization takes more than  one trustworthy leader at the top. The leadership-halo ripple-effect reaches only so far in large, complex organizations. A structured approach of walk, talk, training, recognition and discipline is required to ensure that every single employee in an organization knows that trustworthiness is more than a value, it's a non-negotiable. Every single employee needs to know the behavioral expectations that support trustworthy business in each daily action in each role. The influence and work of many individuals who support business leaders in embedding trustworthiness in their organizations should also be celebrated. They are an essential part of the trustworthiness chain of custody.  
Enter TAA-TAW. Now in its 6th year, TAA-TAW celebrates professionals who are transforming the way organizations do business and honors 2016  Top Thought Leaders as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards to seven individuals who have maintained Top Thought Leader status for five years. 
According to Barbara Kimmel: "The release of this year’s list coincides with the beginning of the 4th year of the formation of our Trust Alliance, a growing group of global professionals committed to learning about and advancing the cause of organizational trust. Many of this year's honorees are well-known CEOs, authors and leadership advisors, while others are quietly working behind the scenes as teachers and researchers. We acknowledge and reward all their efforts in elevating societal trust. We congratulate all of our honorees whose work is shining a spotlight on the importance of trust and providing a roadmap for others to follow. They inspire organizations to look more closely at their higher create greater value for, and trust from all of their stakeholders, and understand trust is a "hard currency" with real returns."
Check out the 2016 Lifetime Honorees here.
Check out the full list of 2016 Honorees in the Winter 2016 issue of TRUST! Magazine

And here I will also mention that I am personally honored and delighted to be included once again in 2016 in this carefully selected group of illustrious and inspiring group of individuals. I am humbled to be on this list with so many truly world-changing individuals. 
I hope you will join me in thanking Trust Across America and Barbara Brooks Kimmel for the hard work that goes into the nomination, judging and award process for the annual selection of Top Thought Leaders, and also in congratulating the 2016 Honorees and Lifetime Honorees.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise Guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen)  or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm).  Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine:  

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