Intentional Trust on Board AgendaWhen we get used to things, we tend to start taking them for granted. And when we start taking things for granted, there’s the potential for us to devalue whatever it is we’ve got used to.

It’s so easy to get used to a beautiful view that you see every day. It’s so easy to get used to the home you live in or the car you own. It’s so easy to get used to having your partner and/or children around you every day. It’s so easy to get used to the people who you work with. It’s so easy to get used to your customers.

Whether in your personal or business life, getting used to that which we experience daily is one of the biggest threats to living more happy, flourishing and meaningful lives.

And what about trust?

Is it paradoxically possible that if we take it for granted that trust is important in our lives, that we potentially devalue its importance? I am convinced the answer is yes.

Research from a range of studies (for an excellent review on this see “Close Relationships and Happiness” by Shimon Saphire-Bernstein and Shelley E. Taylor, in The Oxford Handbook of Happiness), validates that the relationships we have are strong and important predictors of wellbeing.

What this means is if we are taking trust for granted, and paradoxically devaluing the importance of trust, we put trust at risk in our relationships, which in turn, puts our overall happiness and wellbeing at risk. This line of research is what has directed me toward coining the phrase… When trust is at risk, everything is at risk – because surely if our overall wellbeing and life satisfaction is at risk, everything in our lives will be in in some way impacted.

That’s why focusing on Intentional Trust – mindfully and intentionally placing the importance of trust at a very conscious and actionable level – is so very far away from being a ‘soft’ subject.

While in business we are driven by the ‘numbers’ of ROI, Sales Revenue, Profitability, and a range of growth and cost management measures, most if not all of these are directly impacted in one way or another by the trust relationships that drive the behavioural choices of leaders, employees, customers and suppliers.

Beyond the Strategic Retreat

It’s time for the Executive Board and Leadership group to not just lock themselves away for a weekend strategic retreat (or the more funky term a ‘weekend strategic advance’… really?) – but to take on a clear and focused process that will result in the implementation and integration of a measureable corporate culture that includes answers to the questions:

  1. What are our intentions for all of each of our stakeholder groups? 
  2. What can and can’t we promise for each of our stakeholder groups?
  3. What are the actions by which we will demonstrate the pursuit of our intentional promises?
  4. What are the results our stakeholders can expect from us?
  5. And finally, how will we encourage, support and reward the personal character, the values in action, of our individuals and leaders in the pursuit of living up to our intentions?

These questions take the ‘softness’ around discussing the importance of trust, and puts trust squarely on the agenda and accountability across the organisation from the executive board through to the daily actions of front line staff.

In the eighties Jan Carlson (then the head of Scandinavian Airlines) coined the phrase “Moments of Truth” – perhaps it’s time to reignite the passion that once surrounded the importance of every moment that is a moment with another person, being a moment of truth.

People get your truth! Over time, your intentions, promises, actions and results will either promote you as someone people can trust, or expose you as untrustworthy.

How will you put Intentional Trust on your personal and business life agenda?