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Trust in uncertain times

In this rapidly changing and uncertain time, ‘trust’ is paramount. At the recent AICD Summit in Sydney, Michelle Hutton, CEO of Edelman Trust Australia provided insights into the report on the results from the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer. The Edelman Trust Barometer is a highly respected study that documents global trends in opinions about government, media, NGOs and business.

People’s expectations of institutions have led the Edelman Trust to develop a model for measuring trust at a global level across these fourtypes ofinstitutions. According to Edelman, it seems that people today grant their trust based on two distinct attributes: competence (delivering on promises) and ethical behaviour (doing the right thing and working to improve society). 

This year’s Trust Barometer reveals that at a global level, none of the four sectors are viewed as both competent and ethical. Business ranks the highest in competence, being seen as an institution that is good at what it does, but low on ethical behaviour. NGOs are seen as ethical but not competent. Government and media are perceived as both incompetent and unethical.

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Source: 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

We are in unprecedented times. When trust in institutions is at an all time low, leaders must ensure that they not only deliver on their promises, but they must also make sure that they are doing the right thing. 

“It is no longer only a matter of what you do— it’s also how you do it.”  2020 Edelman Trust Barometer

We know that trust-building is a key leadership skill. From Brené Brown’s research we also know that ‘trust is earned in the smallest moments, through paying attention, listening and gestures of genuine care and connection’ and that trust is the ‘glue that holds teams and organisations together’.

So what can we do as leaders today and tomorrow to re-build trust in this changing and uncertain world?