Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category


The business case for trust is indisputable. As the chart below shows, for the past eleven years our Trust 200 Index, a diversified mix of the most trustworthy public companies has handsomely rewarded those who chose trust as a strategic imperative. This includes business leaders and their stakeholders, and also investors. Yet we seem to be stuck in a trust free fall across most societal institutions. Why is that?

It’s certainly not due to lack of interest in the subject of trust nor a shortage of those attempting to monetize trust. In fact, 2022 may have been a banner year for new trust initiatives. Many of the large advisory firms have boarded the trust train, yet their initiatives continue to skirt the two key challenges of trust building. What are they? Find out by reading my most recent article on Medium.

If you would like more information on the fixes described in the article, or would like to help build solutions please contact me.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is an author, speaker, product developer and global subject matter expert on trust and trustworthiness. Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World she is author of the award-winning Trust Inc., Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset, Trust Inc., 52 Weeks of Activities and Inspirations for Building Workplace Trust and Trust Inc., a Guide for Boards & C-Suites. She majored in International Affairs (Lafayette College), and has an MBA (Baruch- City University of NY). Her expertise on trust has been cited in Harvard Business Review, Investor’s Business Daily, Thomson Reuters, BBC Radio, The Conference Board, Global Finance Magazine, Bank Director and Forbes, among others.

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How does YOUR workplace track TRUST?

To date, over 46% of 600+ survey respondents say “Tracking” trust is lacking in their workplace. 

That’s not surprising considering that in most workplaces:

Leadership either ignores trust or takes it for granted until the inevitable crisis

Trust is mistaken for a “soft” intangible

No silo “owns” trust and therefore there is no budget for it


Yet in reality, trust may be a leader’s MOST important and MOST frequently ignored key performance indicator.

Tracking is the final of *12 behaviors in our Tap Into Trust (TAP) framework having now been accessed over 150,000 times in 16 languages.

Tracking is NOT about measuring trust, since trust is an outcome of principled behaviors, not a measurable input.  Tracking is about ensuring that the organizational values and behaviors that build stakeholder trust are learned, understood, role modeled, practiced and reinforced by leadership.  It’s about building the right principled behaviors over time and in incremental steps, and tracking and measuring those behaviors. Only then can the goal of “trust” be achieved. Trust is built from the inside out. This is what creates organizational value.

The next time you hear the claim that trust is a “top” priority, on an organization’s agenda, or being measured, see if you can find any details that describe the actions being taken to elevate trust. Who is advising leadership to use the word “trust” and why? Is it in response to the latest crisis? Is it more than “feel good” talk? Is the organization checking its trust box by hiring that expensive motivational speaker? The word “trust” is way too often attached to a delegated and budgeted “benchmark” or measure like branding, crisis/reputation management, diversity & inclusion, ESG, customer service, data security and AI. These are short-term box checking and easy to sell programs, not to be confused with building long-term sustainable trust. It’s trust, not perception of trust that makes or breaks an organization over time.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World recently created The “Art” of Trust visual “cues” to start a discussion about workplace behaviors that build and weaken stakeholder trust. Together these cues form a “Wall” of Trust to enhance learning and retention.

In building team and stakeholder trust, we describe “Tracking” as follows:

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

Our Trust Alliance members suggest the following discussion questions to track workplace trust.

        1. Are our goals encouraging the right behaviors or causing people to do wrong things?
        2. How do we react to those achieving “good results” when accomplished by means contrary to our values?

The “Art” of Trust  is one of many resources designed for our Trust Action Project to help leaders, teams and organizations move from trust talk to ACTION in 2021 and beyond.

Would you like to build a Wall of Trust for your team? Take the first step.



Join our global Trust Alliance and participate in our programs.

Learn more about the Trust Action Project 2021 at this link.

*TAP INTO TRUST is an acronym. The 12 behaviors are equally weighted. The weakest behaviors break the trust chain.

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.


I remember speaking with Greg Link when he and Stephen M.R. Covey were writing their book Smart Trust.

And as Bill George said in his testimonial… Nothing is more important than building trust in relationships and in organizations. Trust is the glue that binds us together. Everywhere I go I see a remarkable loss of trust in leaders, and once lost, trust is very hard to regain. I feel this loss is tearing at the fabric of society, as so many people love to blame others for their misfortunes but fail to look in the mirror at themselves.

That was 9 years ago

What has changed? In essence accountable leaders who have assumed responsibility for trust continue to reap the rewards. Sadly only the most enlightened have done so over the past decade. The majority of big business leaders have chosen to follow a highly ineffective route via a check the box trust strategy recommended by their highly compensated advisors. Why? It’s fast, easy and can be delegated. Just attach the word “trust” to the flavor of the day, check the box, and voila! Your communications team now has some great talking points. Brand trust, purpose trust, AI trust, and the latest ESG trust. Who benefits from this approach? Primarily the consultants, speakers, academics and some powerful NGOs who have joined forces in monetizing counterfeit trust. Who loses? Business leaders, employees and most external stakeholders. Simply stated, check the box trust is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. It will not get you or your stakeholders to a place of trust. Instead, it will prolong the pain of low trust.

The following is a list of commonly used trust statements and approaches

I have personally heard them all. Can you identify which ones are “smart” trust?

  • We are big business and don’t budget for soft stuff like trust since it doesn’t impact our bottom line.
  • The corporate credo written on the lobby wall has trust covered.
  • We are already trustworthy since our quarterly earnings are growing.
  • We are checking all the ESG boxes and have added ESG experts to our Board of Directors, not to mention the women and other minority members. (That was last year’s misdirected trust advice.)
  • We give to charities and have an annual CSR event.
  • Our employee engagement survey has trust covered.
  • We have a great reputation.
  • We are spending “big” on wellness programs.
  • Our company has received every “Best Places” and “ethics” award.
  • Our communications efforts are focusing on diversity and inclusion.
  • Our compliance department “has trust covered.” We stay just on the “right side” of the law.
  • We always talk about trust as a core value after a crisis.
  • Every year we hire a motivational speaker to deliver an entertaining trust program.

If you answered “None of the above” you are correct. These are all popular, easy and ineffective short-term trust workarounds. And every one of them is a box checking opportunity.

In Smart Trust Covey and Link discuss 5 actions.

  • Choose to believe in trust. …
  • Start with self. …
  • Declare your intent and assume positive intent in others. …
  • Do what you say you’re going to do. …
  • Lead out in extending trust to others.

These actions are a great starting point, and there are many excellent and implementable programs and strategies that will result in smart trust. But don’t expect to know about them if you don’t ask the right questions of the right people. Paradoxically, while trust is more important than ever, those who have the power to elevate it continue to ignore not only those with the expertise, but also the steps required to ensure the trust foundation can support the structure. I call that a win/lose approach.

In the words of Covey and Link  There is a direct connection between trust and prosperity because trust always affects two key inputs to prosperity: speed and cost. In low-trust situations, speed goes down and costs go up because of the many extra steps that suspicions generate in a relationship, whereas two parties that trust each other accomplish things much quicker and, consequently, cheaper. The authors call high trust a “performance multiplier.” High trust creates a dividend, while low trust creates a wasted tax.

And don’t forget, the strength of capitalism is also its weakness.

Regardless of whether you choose to be part of the trust problem or the solution, these are a few indisputable facts:

Trust is the outcome of principled behavior.

Trust is always interpersonal.

Trust takes time to build.

Trust is built in incremental steps.

Trust is built from the inside out, not the outside in.

If leadership isn’t accountable for trust, there is no reason to assume it exists within the organization and you cannot expect it from your stakeholders in return. If you are being counseled on trust make sure those advising you have the expertise to do so. Most are good at the workarounds and smoke screens, but have no knowledge of smart trust. Also, don’t assume that someone who has written a book with the word “trust” in the title is an expert. Again, a few are but most are not.  Don’t buy into the trust “smokescreen.” It will continue to get you nowhere close to a smart trust outcome.

For more information and resources on elevating trust, please visit

Or contact us directly.

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.


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How many of the following are present in your workplace?

Leaders trust their employees

Employees trust their leaders

Team members trust each other

Ethical behavior is rewarded


In most workplaces the answer may be “None.” How do we know that? Our global Survey of Workplace Trust continues to reveal trust gaps that should concern every stakeholder.

Trust is always interpersonal and the outcome of principled behavior. The reasons for low trust vary from relationship to relationship and team to team making “one size fits all” box checking impossible. The good news, trust can be a learned competence and need not be “shelved” until the next crisis, only to be used as a talking point with no followup action to support it. Instead, trust can and should be a proactive business strategy that is practiced by leadership and reinforced daily.

This past November I wrote an article for SHRM Executive Network Blog called Hiring for Trust.

Many of our Trust Alliance members including Charles H. Green, Lea Brovedani, Olivia Mathijsen and David Belden were quoted, all subject matter experts in their own right.

As I mentioned in the article… Sadly, most leadership teams and their HR professional staff have never considered the role trust plays in organizational success, beginning with hiring practices. Even sadder, working from home has now further compounded the glaring lack of trust that exists between employees and employers, making hiring even more challenging.

Hiring for trust does not just “happen” and when leadership fails to consider the role trust plays in organizational success, let alone adopt it as a core value of the organization, hiring for trust makes little to no sense. Given this all too common scenario, leaders should be prepared for new employees quickly to become disengaged and to jump ship once they realize that their personal values and those of the organization do not align.

Since the publication of this article, I have been asked numerous times for some “pointers” on the kinds of questions interviewers might ask if trust were, in fact, a core value of their organization. The list of questions provided below are drawn from some of the behaviors in our TAP Framework, the basis for our Workplace Trust Survey, that strengthen or weaken trust in a team.

Thirteen questions to consider asking if hiring for trust

  • How do you feel about telling “white” lies?
  • If you failed at achieving a goal, would you openly and candidly acknowledge it?
  • Do you feel that your values are aligned with the values of this organization? 
  • Can you provide an example of how you have recently acted with integrity in either your personal or professional life?
  • Do you consider yourself a good listener and why? 
  • Are you more competitive or more collaborative?
  • If someone on your team disagrees with you, how do you react?
  • What do you consider your top three character strengths?
  • What would keep you from having open and frank conversations?
  • Is transparency the best option if it compromises kindness?
  • Could you respect a teammate you didn’t trust?
  • Should employees feel safe to fail?
  • What ethical behavioral goals have you set for yourself?

These questions are meant to address specific trust-building behaviors like truth, accountability, purpose and respect, among others. If you are in a hiring role and can’t personally answer them or don’t know the “right” answer, Tap Into Trust for more free resources. Rest assured, if you start incorporating some of these questions into your practices you will be not only be hiring for competence but also for those character traits that build interpersonal trust.

Join over 150,000 global citizens who have accessed our behavioral principles to not only hire for trust, but to strengthen both team and organizational success.

By Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Founder & CEO, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

Have you heard about The “Art” of Trust? It’s our newest tool!

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Copyright 2021 Next Decade, Inc.


What role does TRUTH play in the core values and culture of your workplace?

Truth is the first of *12 behaviors in our Tap Into Trust (TAP) framework having now been accessed over 150,000 times in 16 languages. 

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World created these visual “cues” to start a discussion about behaviors in the workplace that build and weaken trust. Together these cues form a “Wall” of Trust, telling a story to enhance learning and retention.






In the context of a team, we define Truth as follows:

 We are honest & humble. We put the truth ahead of personal or professional gain.

If truth is lacking on your team how do you begin to address it? These are two questions our Trust Alliance members suggest to foster a discussion and improve trust.

  1. Does our organization tolerate or even encourage “white lies” to avoid conflict and produce results? If so, how can we safely bring that out in the open and change it?
  2. Do we put down people who willingly share their truth? If so, how do we create a forum that invites appropriate candor?


The “Art” of Trust  is one of many resources designed during our Trust Action Project 2021 to help leaders, teams and organizations move from trust talk to ACTION in 2021 and beyond. Build a “Wall” of Trust for your team as the first step down the road to trust.

What behaviors do you think impact trust the MOST in teams and organizations? Our 1 minute/1 question AIM Workplace Diagnostic compares your response to more than 600 others.

Join our global Trust Alliance and participate in our programs.

Would you like more information about how to purchase The “Art” of Trust? Let us know.

Learn more about the Trust Action Project 2021 at this link.


*TAP INTO TRUST is an acronym. The 12 behaviors are equally weighted. The weakest behaviors break the trust chain.

Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

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The Trust Action Project 2021 (#tap2021) Weekly Action is one of many Trust Alliance resources designed to help leaders, teams and organizations move beyond trust talk to ACTION in 2021.



What behaviors do you think impact trust the most in teams and organizations? Our 1 minute/1 question AIM Workplace Diagnostic compares your response to 600 others.

Learn more about the Trust Action Project 2021 at this link.

Join our global Trust Alliance and participate in our programs.

How would you like to get involved? Let us know.




Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

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A few years ago John Baldoni, one of our long-time Trust Alliance members gave me the following advice. He said “Barbara stop trying to change the world. Focus on one person and one organization at a time.”

With that advice in mind, today we celebrate a milestone. In less than three years, over 150,000 global citizens have Tapped Into Trust to access our Trust Alliance Principles (TAP), available at no cost in 16 languages. This would never have been possible without the support of our global Trust Alliance members who continue to work collaboratively to develop and promote these universal principles that can be applied to any organization or team of any size.

From these principles grew a simple one question/one minute ongoing master Workplace Trust survey that has now been taken almost 600 times, followed by our AIM diagnostics and the online and in person workshops designed to start a trust discussion, and directly address the weaknesses that are keeping trust from flourishing.



Trust is always the outcome of principled leadership. If you are an ethical leader who is unwilling to commit to learning more about the impact trust has on your organization’s culture and ultimate success, you are contributing to long-term enterprise risk. (And hiring a motivational speaker to “talk trust” with your employees is not the solution.)

Thank you to all who made this milestone possible. Your ongoing commitment to building trust is getting it done, one person and one organization at a time. Thanks John!

Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO and Founder, Trust Across America-Trust Around the World.

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The Trust Action Project 2021 (#tap2021) Weekly Action is one of many Trust Alliance resources designed to help leaders, teams and organizations move beyond trust talk to ACTION in 2021.

Learn more about the Trust Action Project 2021 at this link.

What’s weakening trust on your team or in your organization? Take our 1 minute/1 question AIM workplace survey.

Join our global Trust Alliance and participate in our programs.

How would you like to get involved? Let us know.



Copyright 2021, Next Decade, Inc.

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The “language” of Coronavirus instills fear and diminishes trust. 

While fear is often used as a tool to gain short-term compliance, it comes with a steep price tag, the loss of trust. Take a closer look at this recently published Gallup chart. Are you surprised?

The following is a list of frequently used fear-inducing COVID19 media terms. How many of these can be accurately defined by the writer, let alone their readers or listeners? And how would you describe your reaction? Anxious, scared, fearful?

  1. Cases and “numbers” exploding
  2. Hospital strain
  3. Unprecedented surge
  4. Running rampant
  5. Whopping
  6. Stay-at-home orders
  7. Shutdowns
  8. Lockdowns
  9. Alarmingly high
  10. Overwhelming

These obtuse and half-baked terms are no different than the food industry calling its products “all natural,” a meaningless marketing label at best. Without a common vocabulary and precise definitions, the present COVID19 language trumpeted by the media is intentionally designed and delivered to produce two outcomes:

  • Instill fear 
  • Destroy trust

What happens when fear dominates?

The brain releases hormones including cortisol and catecholamine, and shuts down certain executive functions like strategic thinking and trust. In other words, people psychologically “freeze.”

What does the media hope to accomplish by freezing the public, and what is motivating them to do this? Is it no more complicated than a lack of conscience, more “eyeballs” and increased ad revenue, or is there something more? Who is driving these panic inducing headlines?  Where have journalistic integrity, ethics and standards gone? How can the public be expected to now pivot away from the fear created by the media and embrace the vaccine news?

Little doubt exists that if we are to accept a vaccine the public’s trust must be elevated. The media needs to immediately take responsibility and be accountable for alleviating their fear porn and replacing it with trust inducing language, concise definitions, increased data transparency, care and empathy. In other words, the ethical practices that build trust. And our politicians and vaccine manufacturers must be held to the same ethical standard, working collaboratively with their media partners to ensure that the fear they have collectively created can be replaced with trust. Unfortunately, that can’t happen by flicking on a switch. Trust is built over time and in incremental steps and it is the outcome of principled behavior.

For more information visit

Copyright 2020, Next Decade, Inc.

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“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”Warren Bennis

Having counseled leaders across many industries on how to elevate stakeholder trust, I can almost assure you that you won’t come close to passing our 10-question test. Fortunately, the failing grade is usually not due to character or competence flaws, but a lack of understanding of the role of trust as a core value of leadership. Are you willing to take the following test AND the actions required to elevate your results?

*** Warning your degree of honesty and vulnerability may affect your score***

 Give yourself ten points for every “yes” answer.

  1. Do I understand that trust is not a soft skill and that it has tangible value?
  2. Have I thought about what it means to be trustworthy in both my personal and professional life?
  3. Is trust mentioned in my company’s core values and do I practice and reinforce those values daily?
  4. Do I understand that trust is the outcome of principled behavior and have I identified the behavioral weaknesses?
  5. Do I understand that trust cannot be delegated and that low trust is a real risk?
  6. Have I asked my employees and other stakeholders if they think I am trustworthy?
  7. Do I understand that trust is a learned competence, and have I budgeted for trust training for both my leadership team and my staff?
  8. Do I directly engage my employees and my customers in conversations about trust?
  9. Do I catch employees doing something right and reward ethical behavior?
  10. Does trust play a role in my hiring practices?

What was your final  score?


Business leaders are constrained by the number of hours in a day, and how they choose to prioritize their time. Many spend it reacting to crises and extinguishing fires caused by low trust. If more leaders not only understood the benefits of high trust, but actually took the steps required to elevate it, their time would be freed up to build a more profitable business much more quickly. Low trust plays a large role in elevating enterprise risk, yet is is widely ignored. Take the questions above and tackle them one at a time. Each 10% improvement will get you closer to high trust.

PS- Don’t fall for expensive trust workarounds that may be offered to you. While they may get you a communications “talking point,” they won’t get you across the enterprise trust finish line. In fact, they won’t even get you close.


Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, whose mission is to help organizations build trust. Now in its 12th year, the program has developed two proprietary trust-evaluation tools, the latest is AIM Towards Trust. She also runs the world largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award-winning TRUST INC. book series. Kimmel is a former consultant to McKinsey who has worked across multiple industries and with senior leadership. She holds a bachelor’s in international affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch.

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Copyright © 2020 Next Decade, Inc.


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