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Late last year Trust Across America-Trust Around the World  published the first in a planned series of award-winning books.  TRUST INC., Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset brings together the wisdom of 32 experts. Six months later we released our second book, Trust Inc. A Guide for Boards & C-SuitesIn this book, sixty experts have joined forces to offer 100 strategies.

Throughout the month of August, we will be featuring 31 essays from our second book. Each stands alone as an excellent resource in guiding Boards and C-Suites on driving a trust agenda at the highest level in the organization, and provides tools for those who choose to implement trust-building programs in their organization.

A quick reference on what’s been covered so far this month:

August 1: There’s a Reason Why We Call Them Trustees explains why being an “absentee landlord” doesn’t work.

August 2: Kill the Evening Before Dinner and take a small group of front line employees to dinner instead.

August 3: In Head of Business- Hope for the World we are introduced to the Winston “V” Model.

The fourth essay in our series is from James E. Lukaszewski (loo-ka-SHEV-skee), widely known as America’s Crisis Guru. He is a speaker, author (12 books and hundreds of articles and monographs), lecturer and ethicist (co-chair of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards). His latest book is Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation and Crisis Management.  Jim has been named a 2014 Top Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business by Trust Across America-Trust Around the World. His website is www.e911.com 

Reputation vs. Trust

I’ve always thought that the whole notion of reputation was more a Public Relations construct than a management concern. Leaders care about trust.

During my nearly 40 years in reputation, leadership and organizational recovery I can’t recall a serious discussion of reputation in a management circumstance by those running the business until just before they were about to lose or see their reputation seriously damaged. Public Relations advisors rather than business operators raised the issues.

Trust is a powerful management term. I define trust as the absence of fear. I interpret fear to mean the absence of trust. Trust is a management word; trust is a powerful cultural word. Trust is a word that has its counterparts in virtually every culture on the planet; and trust is understood clearly and immediately by just about everybody. Generally it’s mom who taught us about trust, so we remember.

Chief Executives of troubled organizations don’t lose their jobs because there’s a reputation problem. They lose their jobs because there is a trust problem, a failure to provide the assurance that prevents the fear of serious adverse circumstances. If we’re talking seriously about our relationship with constituents, stakeholders, employees, the public, anyone who has a stake in our organization for whatever reason, we’re talking about trust.

Reputation? We’ll need to call the PR department for the latest definition.

I hope you have enjoyed this next sneak peak into our second book. If this brief look behind the door has been helpful, follow this link to order both of our books online.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Executive Director of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She is also the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2012 Barbara was named “One of 25 Women Changing the World” by Good Business International.

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Should you wish to communicate directly with Barbara, drop her a note at Barbara@trustacrossamerica.com

Copyright © 2014, Next Decade, Inc.

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2 Responses to “Reputation vs. Trust”

  1. August 4th, 2014 at 09:35 | #1

    More about
    The Two Most Powerful Ingredients of Trust: Disclosure and Candor:

    Ethics is about trust. In today’s world we tend to spend a lot of time talking about reputation, and reputation management. But, from a management perspective reputation management is predominantly a public relations concept. The management equivalent and much more powerful concept is trust. One of the most interesting commentaries on trust from a chief executive I’ve ever heard was a statement by James Burke who was the chief executive of Johnson & Johnson at the time of the Tylenol murders.

    During an interview about his management during the Tylenol events he said,” Doing what’s right, works. The cynics will disagree, but they are wrong. It comes down to institutional trust. In our case, trust with our customers built over more than 100 years. Trust, in my view is real, palpable and bankable.”

    Trust is the principal outcome of ethical behavior. I define trust is the absence of fear. And fear as the absence of trust. The issue for most of us is thinking about what trust actually is, the behaviors that lead to trust, maintain trust, and help restore trust, when problems occur.

    The single most powerful ingredient of trust is disclosure. Powerful, productive and permanent relationships are built on the trust that disclosure establishes. Virtually every ingredient in PRSA Code of Ethics assumes or explicitly talks about disclosure.

    The PRSA Board Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) is developing more specific guidelines and guidance. BEPS’s working definition of disclosure is:” the intentional release of information to facilitate transparency, openness, access and accountability.”

    Disclosure is about Candor which I define as,” Truth with an attitude, delivered very promptly.” I joke, in my lectures, about why we don’t trust certain relatives. For one thing, they’re always right. But, they’re always right a week after you really needed the information that they had but failed to supply that would have helped you. Trust is built on having crucial information before you need it.

    Yes, disclosure can be complicated. Sometimes information belongs to someone else and they control its release. Sometimes lawyers advise that we withhold information for a variety of important, credible reasons. Yet, in my experience, when trust is at stake, disclosure turns out to be the most powerful trust restorative and rejuvenating action.

    Trust building is also one of the greatest responsibilities of leadership. We often complain as practitioners that attorneys have more influence than we do. Practically speaking, the lawyer’s ability to influence is far more limited than ours. But the ultimate point is that staff and external advisors such as public relations, law, human resources, strategic planning, security, and the other staff functions are just that, advisors. The decision for important action in organizations comes from the leader and the leadership rather than any staff function.

    Leaders who can’t be trusted, or who fail to build trust ultimately lead organizations that make mistakes and misbehave. Scandals, embarrassment, every problem causing disconnect we read or learn about, experience, or observe involves, at some level, the failure to share, be candid, or to fully disclose essential information.

    If trust is what you seek or need, then disclosure and candor, openness with speed, are your guiding principles.

    Lukaszewski is Co-Chair, of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS).

  2. August 20th, 2014 at 13:13 | #2

    Reputation is an attribute. Trust is an asset.

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