Tap Into Trust

April 21, 2018

I am associated with a group called Trust Across America: Trust Around the World. This week, Barbara Brooks Kimmel, our CEO, announced an initiative to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the group. The initiative is called “Tap Into Trust.” We invite you to participate in the program at the attached site: You and your group can “Tap Into Trust” by following these principles and behaviors:

 

Truth

We are honest and humble – we put the truth ahead of personal gain.

Accountability

We hold one another accountable – we each take responsibility without regard to level or role.

Purpose

We engage our stakeholders to build shared purpose – we avoid short term “wins” that undermine future success.

 

Integrity

We do what we say – our everyday actions and talk are consistent.

Notice

We seek out and listen to diverse perspectives – every voice can matter.

Talent

We reward moral character – we hire and promote in alignment with our purpose and values.

Openness

We are open and ready to learn – we can be vulnerable and not have all the answers.

 

Transparency

We reject hidden agendas – we are transparent wherever and whenever possible.

Respect

We respect each other – we encourage questioning and create a “zero fear” environment where innovation can thrive.

Understanding

We celebrate our successes – we acknowledge and examine our failures with empathy, and learn from both.

Safety

We call out unethical behavior or corrupt practices – we make it safe to be honest with no fear of reprisal.

Tracking

We define and scorecard our performance against our value and values – we measure both.


Thanking Barbara Kimmel

October 31, 2016

In this blog, I would like to extend my respect and thanks to a person in the “Trust Community” who is a tireless worker and friend, and who has done as much as anyone I know to advance the cause of trust worldwide.

I have known Barbara Brooks Kimmel for nearly 10 years, and I am continually impressed with her creativity to come up with new ways to encourage leaders to become stronger on building, maintaining, and repairing trust.

With her husband, Jordan Kimmel, Barbara founded Trust Across America-Trust Around the World nearly a decade ago. Barbara began studying the impact that trust has on organizations of all types.

All of her work is research based, and there is substantial data that links the level of trust to the success of organizations worldwide.

Their proprietary FACTS® Framework is a way to rank organizations in terms of trustworthiness. The acronym stands for:

• Financial Stability & Strength
• Accounting Conservativeness
• Corporate Integrity
• Transparency
• Sustainability

Each year her firm analyzes and ranks over 1500 of the largest US public companies to determine which ones demonstrate the highest trust levels. Moreover, the Framework correlates their performance with how profitable they are.

Barbara is a prolific writer and has produced a steady stream of pithy articles and white papers relating the various aspects of trust to performance and making suggestions for how organizations and leaders can do a better job of building higher trust.

She shares her information on the Trust Across America: Trust Around the World website, a clearinghouse of organizational trust resources and tools.

Through her efforts, an association of trust professionals was established three years ago. The Trust Alliance is a growing global membership organization comprised of a cross functional group who work and write in the field of trust and related topics. These people network as a support group to suggest research topics and keep pushing the state of the art.

Each year Barbara runs a competition to identify the top thought leaders in the trust industry. This is her way to provide recognition to professionals who are at work daily as practitioners and also with their teaching, writing and consulting to advance the cause.

Individuals who are named a top thought leader for five years are honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Trust Across America: Trust Around the World. There are only a couple dozen people who have achieved that level of consistency. I am proud to be among them.

In addition, the program publishes a listing of top service providers each year in Trust! Magazine. The fall 2016 edition is available for free at the following address.

Barbara Kimmel is a tireless advocate of organizational trust. In 2012 she was named one of “25 women changing the world” by a group in NY called Good Business International. She deserves our thanks and gratitude for her continuous support of trust and the people who carry out this work.

If you are involved in the trust business, and I think everyone should be to some extent, look up the website and see the wonderful resources that Barbara has developed to be helpful. The world owes her a vote of gratitude for the work she is doing.


Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts (ATBE)

January 31, 2013

PrintThere is a new entity in the trust business that has been organized by the Trust Across America Group. It is a consortium of individuals and groups that are all interested in raising the level of trust in organizations.

Our goal is to make a substantial improvement in trust in US companies over the next two years.

As a Founding Member of the group, I will be included as an author in a book that is being written to commemorate the first year of this organization.

Here is a link to an interview I recently did for the Alliance   http://www.trustacrossamerica.com/blog/?p=714


Toxic Leaders

September 23, 2012

We are all familiar with the word “toxic” and recognize that toxic substances are known to cause human beings serious injury or death. We are also aware that some individuals have mastered the skill of being toxic to other people. When a toxic person is the leader of an organization, the performance of that unit will typically be less than half what it would be under a leader who builds trust. There is documented evidence (see Trust Across America statistics) that high trust groups outperform low trust groups by a factor of two to five times.

Thankfully, the majority of leaders are not toxic. One estimate given by LTG Walter F. Ulmer in an article entitled “Toxic Leadership” (Army, June 2012) is that 30-50% of leaders are essentially transformational, while only 8-10% are essentially toxic. The unfortunate reality is that one toxic leader in an organization does such incredible damage, he or she can bring down an entire culture without even realizing it.

Why would a leader speak and behave in a toxic way if he or she recognizes the harm being done to the organization. Is it because leaders are just not aware of the link between their behaviors and performance of the group? Is it because they are totally unaware of the fact that their actions are toxic to others? Is it because they are lazy and just prefer to bark out orders rather than work to encourage people? While there are instances where any of these modes might be in play, I think other mechanisms are responsible for most of the lamentable behaviors of toxic leaders.

Toxic leaders do understand that people are generally unhappy working under them. What they fail to see is the incredible leverage they are leaving off the table. They just do not believe there is a better way to manage, otherwise they would do that. If you are in an organization, there is a possibility you are in daily contact with one or more toxic leaders. There are three possibilities here: 1) you have a leader working for you who is toxic, 2) you are a toxic leader yourself, but do not know it or want to admit it, or 3) you are working for a toxic leader or have one higher in the chain of command. I will give some tips you can use for each of these cases.

Toxic Leader Working for you – this person needs to become more aware that he or she is operating at cross purposes to the goals of the organization. Do this through education and coaching. Once awareness is there, then you can begin to shape the behavior through leadership development and reinforcement. It may be that this person is just not a good fit for a leadership role. If the behaviors are not improved, then this leader should be removed.

You are a toxic leader – it is probably not obvious to you how much damage is being done by your treatment of other people. They are afraid to tell you what is actually going on, so you are getting grudging compliance and leaving their maximum discretionary effort unavailable to the organization. The antidote here is to genuinely assess your own level of toxicity and change it if you are not happy with the answer. This can be accomplished through getting a leadership coach or getting some excellent training. Try to read at least one good leadership book every month.

You are working for a toxic leader – in my experience, this is the most common situation. It is difficult and dangerous to retrofit your boss to be less toxic. My favorite saying for this situation is, “Never wrestle a pig. You get all muddy and the pig loves it.” So what can you do that will have a positive impact on the situation without risking loss of employment? Here are some ideas that may help, depending on how severe the problem is and how open minded the boss is:

1. Create a leadership growth activity in your area and invite the boss to participate. Use a “lunch and learn” format where various leaders review some great books on leadership. I would start with some of the Warren Bennis books or perhaps Jim Collins’ Good to Great.

2. Suggest that part of the performance gap is a lack of trust in higher management and get some dialog on how this could be improved. By getting the boss to verbalize a dissatisfaction with the status quo, you can gently shape the issue back to the leader’s behaviors. The idea is to build a recognition of the causal relationship between culture and performance.

3. Show some of the statistical data that is available that links higher trust to greater productivity. The Trust Across America Website is a great source of this information.

4. Bring in a speaker who specializes in improving culture for a quarterly meeting. Try to get the speaker to interface with the problem leader personally offline. If the leader can see some glimmer of hope that a different way of operating would provide the improvements he or she is seeking, then some progress can be made.

5. Suggest some leadership development training for all levels in the organization. Here it is not necessary to identify the specific leader as “the problem,” rather, discuss how improved leadership behaviors at all levels would greatly benefit the organization.

6. Reinforce any small directional baby steps in the right direction the leader inadvertently shows. Reinforcement from below can be highly effective if it is sincere. You can actually shape the behavior of your boss by frequent reminders of the things he or she is doing right.

It is a rare leader who will admit, “Our performance is far off the mark, and since I am in charge, it must be that my behaviors are preventing people from giving the organization their maximum discretionary effort.” Those senior leaders who would seriously consider this statement are the ones who can find ways to change through training and coaching. They are the ones who have the better future. Most toxic leaders will remain with their habits that sap the vital energy from people and take their organizations in exactly the opposite direction from where they want to go.

Another key reason why toxic leaders fail to see the opportunity staring them in the face is a misperception about Leadership Development. The typical comment is, “We are not into the touchy-feely stuff here. We do not dance around the maypole and sing Kum-ba-yah while toasting marshmallows by the campfire.” The problem here is that several leadership training methods in the past have used outdoor experiential training to teach the impact of good teamwork and togetherness. Senior leaders often feel too serious and dignified for that kind of frivolity, so they sit in their offices and honestly believe any remedial training needs to be directed toward the junior leaders.

To reduce the impact of a toxic leader, follow the steps outlined above, and you may be able to make a large shift in performance over time while preserving your job. You can even use this article as food for thought and pass it around the office to generate dialog on how to chart a better future for the organization.


Interview with Barbara Kimmel

July 8, 2010

This week I interviewed Barbara Kimmel from the “Trust Across America” Organization. I have been impressed with this group as a real force for helping build a higher level of understanding about trust in organizations throughout our country. We need more people like Barbara and her husband Jordan, who runs a weekly radio broadcast on the Voice America Variety Channel specifically devoted to issues of trust. Here is my interview with Barbara Kimmel with some additional comments:

Trust Ambassador: Why did you start “Trust Across America”?

Kimmel: We started Trust Across America to collaboratively find solutions to America’s trust crisis. The time has come to wrap our arms around the word “trust” and to highlight companies and thought leaders that aren’t just doing things right, but are “doing the right thing”. We will provide collaborative forums, media, and other opportunities for consultants, academics and companies to share their best practices.

Trust Ambassador: What interesting or unusual things have happened with this experience?

Kimmel: Many individuals and organizations are reluctant to use the word “trust” or “trustworthy”. It’s very risky. The word just seems too big, burdensome, and even scary for some.

Trust Ambassador: Perhaps part of the issue is that to fully trust, one must be vulnerable. That may be uncomfortable for some people, especially for some leaders.

Trust Ambassador: How fast is the organization growing?

Kimmel: Fast. Right now our focus is on building a core trust ecosystem… professionals who want to roll up their sleeves and find actionable solutions to the trust crisis.

Trust Ambassador: What are your long term objectives or goals?

Kimmel: We want to reverse the trend in the breakdown of trust in corporate America by first developing a workable definition of trustworthy behavior and then identifying and highlighting those companies who are industry leaders, so that they can become role models. Essentially, we want to lead a “Trust Revolution” in corporate America.

Trust Ambassador: Has there been any down side to this effort?

Kimmel: Other than not enough hours in the day, no. People like yourself have been very generous with their time, and supportive of our efforts.

Trust Ambassador: How can people get involved?

Kimmel: Read our monthly newsletter at http://www.trustacrossamerica.org/documents/newsletters/newsletter.pdf. It outlines many ways for people to get involved. Email me at barbara@trustacrossamerica.com with comments/suggestions.

Trust Ambassador: I want to thank Barbara for this information and for the great work she is doing with Trust Across America. I also urge you to join Jordan Kimmel for his weekly broadcast on the Voice America Variety Channel on Wednesdays at noon EDT. http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vshow.aspx?sid=1713