“Businesspeople love to think in terms of leading and lagging indicators,” says David Horsager, CEO of the Trust Edge Leadership Institute, and a Wall Street Journal bestselling author. “But the most important leading indicator is not sales or revenue or any other metric. It’s trust. You can’t assign a number to trust on a balance sheet, but if you don’t have trust, you can’t have measurable, sustainable success.”
Horsager is on a mission to develop trusted leaders and organizations, because if the leader isn’t trusted, the organization cannot win, grow, succeed or make a lasting impact.
“Companies come to us because they think their issue is retention, attrition, engagement, profits, or something along those lines,” Horsager says. “In reality it is never those issues. Trust is always the root issue.”
“Unless an organization or a country is run by a dictator and people have no choice, the only reason we follow a leader is because we trust that person. When you have trust, everything else can work. When you don’t, nothing else can work.”
Horsager says that in sales there’s a common misconception that we buy from people we like.
“There are a lot of people I like,” Horsager says, “I like to watch a football game with them, have dinner, whatever. But do I trust in every way? Definitely not. You don’t buy from people you like. You buy from people you trust. So if you want to increase sales, you have to increase the trustworthiness of the person who’s doing the selling, and the trustworthiness of the products and services that person sells. It sounds obvious, but it’s the most overlooked thing in the world.”
Horsager says that many people confuse transparency and vulnerability with trust.
“That’s not true,” Horsager argues. “Some kids are so transparent on social media that I wouldn’t trust them to work in my business. You can be completely transparent and completely vulnerable and completely untrustworthy at the same time! Transparency and vulnerability are excellent values, but they don’t go to the heart of the matter the same way trust does. High trust leaders are as transparent as they can be while being as confidential as they ought to be.”
Horsager believes that trust is the X factor that makes everything else better.
“Trust speeds up agile,” Horsager says. “It speeds up the sale. It increases the reach of leaders. The problem is that people think that they either have it or they don’t.” In trust, trust can absolutely be built. Horsager’s organization offers an eight-step process to increasing trust. “Trust is not a soft skill. There’s a way to build it that can be quickly learned and consistently reinforced,” he says. “You can’t buy it in the store, but you can develop it, and when you do, everything changes.”
Horsager says it’s not just the business world where trust is paramount. It’s everywhere.
“School systems want to understand how to solve the learning issues in the classroom,” he says. “Well, there is only one way to increase learning in a classroom. You have to increase trust, either in the teacher, in the content, or in the psychological safety or trustworthiness of the classroom. Or all three. Wherever you are, if something isn’t working, whether it’s a boardroom, a classroom, or a locker room, trust is the main issue.”
Horsager’s Institute publishes The Trust Outlook® annually, which is global research read avidly by Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and other large-scale entities around the world. Horsager says that in any industry, the only way to win is to be the trusted choice in all aspects of business. People want to work in a high-trust culture where they can be their best, get measurable results, and be proud of the impact their work is making. The only way to get there is with trust.
The most important question that everyone is asking about you is, “Can I trust you?” Horsager emphasizes that trust is the key to success and can be built through intentional development of the 8-Pillar Framework™. Trust is the true currency of business and life. Build the framework and enjoy being the most trusted in your industry!