Posts Tagged ‘trust’



Is it just me?

Most people I’ve met in business are honest, while a handful can’t stop their bulls–t.

How many BS excuses have you heard? What’s your favorite? These are a few of mine:




  • I’m VERY busy
  • I’m traveling nonstop
  • Check back with me in a month
  • I never saw your email
  • Let me run it by my team

Instead, why not just say “I’m not interested?”

People on the receiving end of BS excuses know they are just that, because they have heard them all before.

In my book, excuse givers get two strikes (the first might be legit), and then they are out! And I’ll share my experience with any colleague who asks.

I’ll take honesty over crappy excuses any day, because honesty builds trust. And if you can’t trust someone to initially tell you the truth, you probably don’t want to do business with them.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the Founder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World. 


Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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Once again, the scandal plagued banking industry has a new CEO vowing to rebuild trust. This time the headline is out of Copenhagen… 


Trust in Danske Bank has collapsed, says its new chief executive

How many times have we heard these words before? “As reported by Reuters, Trust in Danske Bank has collapsed amid its involvement in a damaging money laundering scandal said the bank’s Chief Executive Chris Vogelzang, as he vowed to strengthen the bank’s defense.”

Fresh out of ABN Amro, another scandal plagued bank, the newly elected Danske CEO cites the primary cause for the loss of trust: “The high level of trust in Denmark, which enjoys a reputation as being one of the least corrupt nations, mean(ing) that there had been fewer incentives to control risks.” And his solution… As a result, he said, nine out of 10 people in the top compliance team are now from outside Denmark.

And also… “There was also some “bad” product in the mix. Trust in the bank has been further dented after a scandal, in which it failed to inform customers that it expected a poor performance from an investment product called Flexinvest Fri and continued to sell the product after raising fees associated with it.”

Once again I asked the members of our Trust Council to read the article and share some advice for Chris Vogelzang.

Donna Boehme, our “Lion” of compliance weighed in first, offering the following observations: 

To rebuild trust and establish a culture of ethical leadership is a huge undertaking that takes years, not days, and requires the advice and coaching of experts, not just PR Wizards of Smart.  One area the experts would focus this company on would be the entire system of “incentives” which has an outsized effect on culture and business decisions, as demonstrated so vividly by Wells Fargo and its fake accounts scandal. Danske might want to look at the leading edge examples being set by a number of companies In this arena.

It is also encouraging that the CEO has brought a compliance team together that has AML and other compliance SME. But if he wants that team to be successful, he must ensure that it has independence, empowerment, line  of sight, seat at the table and resources adequate to do the job well. Gone are the days when reputation and brand can be entrusted to an in-house legal team with no legitimate compliance SME (earned in the trenches) and lacking the positioning and authority to do the job. 


Stephen M.R. Covey  shared the following thoughts:

First, “you can’t talk your way out of a problem you behaved your way into.”  In other words, the only way to restore trust here will be through actions—behaviors—not merely words (although words can be helpful to signal what you’re going to do).  Key behaviors to restore trust here include:  Confront Reality (acknowledge it), Practice Accountability (own it), Right Wrongs (make it right as best you can), Clarify Expectations (tell people what you’re going to do to re-earn their trust), and Keep Commitments (do what you say you’re going to do).

Second, trust in the marketplace is an extension of trust in the workplace.  It’s inside out.  So in order to restore trust with customers, it will be vital to also restore trust with your own people.  Too often organizations who have lost trust in the marketplace focus primarily (sometimes almost exclusively) on the customer/market trust and don’t recognize that they also need to be rebuilding internal workplace trust.  Without the workplace trust, it’s hard to sustain market trust.  Indeed, it’s incongruent.

Third, while building/rebuilding trust is definitely an inside-out process, starting with each leader and with the leadership team, it’s also vital that the process move out to the organizational level where they can better and more appropriately align systems and structures to ensure they build trust the right way.  Some of these systems/structures may have been misaligned in the past and may have contributed to the challenge.

There’s a lot more they need to do but those are just a couple of thoughts.


I’ll add a few more observations to the sage advice provided by Donna and Stephen. 

The concept of rebuilding something implies that it was built before.There is one question that the new CEO must answer before a trust-building strategy can be developed. What exactly did we trust our bank to do in the past that we are currently failing to do? 

While compliance plays a role in elevating trust, it must first come as a directive from the top. If the Board of Directors doesn’t understand or support the importance of creating a long-term strategy to elevate trust, the leadership team will be ineffective. The Danske Board currently consists of five committees: audit, compliance, nomination, remuneration and risk. I would suggest adding a sixth called “trust” and immediately calling in some trust subject matter experts to assist in outlining this critical trust-building strategy.

And speaking of strategy, whether post crisis or proactive, trust can never be delegated, yet this is what we see time and time again. It is not a legal or PR “tactic,” but rather an outcome of an intentional trust “plan” that leadership executes, practices and reinforces daily. In other words, trust “talk” must be followed up with action.

I hope someone at Danske reads this and passes the article up the chain. Perhaps Danske will someday become the industry role model in building trust. After all Denmark, with its high level of trust, should demand nothing less.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. For more information on how to build authentic trust, contact her at 

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

This is the link to the original Reuters article.

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Ideally, an internal C&E team will have great people skills and the ability to communicate and collaborate with all stakeholder groups. But if the team is ignoring the underlying principles essential to building high trust, the C&E function will be ineffective AND responsible for increasing enterprise risk.

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

The head of Compliance & Ethics at a large global public company recently engaged us to administer our AIM Towards Trust assessment within their 20+ member team. Unlike others who take trust for granted or consider it a soft skill, this one acknowledged that internal team trust was lacking and wanted to find out why. They sought to identify trust weaknesses and strengths, and to begin a trust discussion with the goal of remedying the weaknesses, celebrating strengths and reducing risk.

Our one question/one minute assessment is based on our universal principles called TAP (Tap Into Trust), developed over the course of a year by many of the world’s leading trust scholars and practitioners, accessed almost 65,000 times, and now in use in dozens of teams and organizations.

The survey results are displayed below. Accountability, Transparency and Respect were identified as the principles that needed immediate attention and, armed with this knowledge, the C&E Team leader was provided with additional do-it-yourself tools to address the weaknesses.

This leader believes that the responsibility to elevate organizational trust lies with their team, and is now expanding the assessment, bringing it into other functional areas within the organization to identify and remediate trust gaps. 

High trust C&E teams are role models, supporting employee and customer wellbeing which, in turn fosters faster company growth and achievement of organizational goals, while minimizing risk. 

What do you think the trust profile of your C&E team would look like, or would you rather not know?

While your colleagues are embracing trust as the NEW currency, are you choosing to ignore it?

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust using a proprietary assessment tool called AIM Towards Trust. A former consultant to many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, Barbara also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance, and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. For more information contact

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc. No part of this document may be reproduced without permission.



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Leaders should never take trust seriously.

After all, trust is just one of those “soft skills” that needs no particular attention, especially from leadership. For your next corporate event, instruct your communications department to hire a stand up comic to cover that “stuff” and provide the script in advance. Make sure it’s “compliance approved” and that your Board members attend.

  1. Never trust a tree. They are always shady.
  2. My trust issues started when my Mom said “come here, I’m not gonna hit you!”
  3. Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.
  4. Never trust an atom. They make up everything.
  5. I got trust issues because people got lying issues.
  6. It’s funny how trust disappears when you are looking for the TV remote. Me: “Do you have the remote?” Him: “No.” Me: “Stand up.”
  7. People say I have trust issues. I don’t believe them.
  8. Watch who you trust. Even your teeth bite your tongue now and then.
  9. I don’t trust these stairs. They are always up to something.
  10. I am pretty sure the definition of trust is giving your friend your phone without clearing the history.

I take no credit for any of these one-liners. I’m way too serious about trust! Our new diagnostic AIM Towards Trust doesn’t deliver any jokes. Instead, it provides a baseline measurement from which to improve trust in any team or organization. It’s designed for trustworthy leaders who embrace trust as an intentional business strategy, not a joke.

Contact us for more information:

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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What gets measured gets managed – Peter Drucker

In preparation for the first anniversary of Tap Into Trust, we have been running an anonymous one question/one minute survey to identify the primary causes of low trust in organizations. The results may surprise you and provide insight into what needs fixing.




Which of these 12 trust principles do you consider the weakest in your organization?

Transparency? Integrity? Respect? None of those would be correct.

  • Truth
  • Accountability
  • Purpose
  • Integrity
  • Notice
  • Talent
  • Openness
  • Transparency
  • Respect
  • Understanding
  • Safety
  • Tracking

Take the survey and find out.

Remember, You can’t manage what you haven’t measured.

Trust is always internal and must be built from the inside out. Everything else is simply “perception of trust.”

Learn how you can bring this trust diagnostic into your team or organization.

For more information contact:

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

Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.


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Are financial institutions inherently untrustworthy or is this a simple misconception? 

To answer this question we first must consider how “finance” and “trust” are being defined. Without universally accepted definitions, all financial institutions are painted with one broad brushstroke and consumers among other stakeholders, are left in an ever escalating state of mistrust and confusion. And when the “news” and the latest “study” report that trust in finance is up (or down) this only fuels the fire.

Trust? What are we trusting financial institutions to do, or not do? Safeguard our money, be transparent with fees, earn a good return for shareholders, protect our personal data, treat employees well, provide good customer service, or all of the aforementioned?

Finance? Can global investment banks, regional banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, financial planners, REITS, and/or a local savings and loans be lumped together when discussing trust in finance? Should they be?

For nine years Trust Across America has been researching and reporting on the trustworthiness of America’s largest 2000 public companies via our proprietary FACTS® Framework. We perform this analysis through a quantitative and objective lens (with no input from the companies themselves)


This is, by order of magnitude, the largest ongoing study ever conducted on trustworthiness at the individual corporate level. Our 2018 data (Russell 1000 only displayed below) concluded that the finance sector remains the lowest in trust, with an average score of 57 on a 1-100 scale. (Down from 58 in 2017). This dataset was finalized in April 2018. It is updated every April.


Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.


But what do these numbers really mean?

Our data also tells a more detailed story, and one that places us in a unique position to discuss trust AND the financial industry. Industry is NOT destiny and those more trustworthy financial institutions suffer at the hands of their less trustworthy colleagues. Take a look at this. Suddenly certain financial industry players look quite a bit better, while some look worse.

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.



And dissecting the data even further reveals the following:


                                                 Name            Symbol    Sector                        Industry                 FACTS Score

Copyright 2019 Next Decade, Inc.


Some of the major regional banks have high trust scores, while others do not. Again, industry is not destiny.

Trust in financial institutions isn’t necessarily “up” or “down.” That’s simply a news headline. At its core, trust is internal. It is a function of how much leadership cares about its corporate culture, and chooses to embrace the value of trust in meeting the needs of every stakeholder group. For those leaders who are interested in learning more about how to elevate trust internally, please Tap into Trust and take our sample one minute (customizable for any organization or team) quiz.

For all others, keep debating whether trust is “up or down.”

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series. She holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. 

Purchase our books at this link

For more information on Trust & Integrity in Corporate America purchase our 2018 report. To be among the first to review our research and more fully engage in elevating organizational trust, please consider membership in our vetted Trust Alliance.


Copyright 2019, Next Decade, Inc.

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(Source: G.Palazzo, F. Krings, Journal of Business Ethics, 2011).


Many models of (un)ethical decision making assume that people decide rationally and are in principle able to evaluate their decisions from a moral point of view. However, people might behave unethically without being aware of it. They are ethically blind.


As organizations are comprised of individuals, Ethical Blindness naturally extends into the workplace. Some business sectors appear to be more ethically blind than others, and this creates enormous enterprise risk. This chart shows the trustworthiness of the major sectors for the Russell 1000 companies based on Trust Across America’s FACTS(R) Framework.


Ethical blindness can be corrected if leaders choose to be “tuned in” to the warning signs described below:

  • The Board of Directors does not have established long-term policies or procedures in place to elevate ethical and trustworthy behavior with their internal and external stakeholders. For more information see the Spring Issue of Trust Magazine.
  • Leaders, unless they are ethically “aware” by nature, are not proactive about elevating trust or ethics as there is no mandate to do so. When a crisis occurs, the “fix” follows a common “external facing” script involving a costly and unnecessary PR campaign. Wells Fargo’s latest “building trust” television commercial provides a timely example. Meanwhile internally, it’s “business as usual.”
  • Discussions of short term gains and cost cutting dominate most group meetings. The pressure to perform is intense and the language used is very strong.
  • The Legal and Compliance departments are large and growing faster than any other function.
  • The organizational culture is a mystery. No clear “ownership” of ethical or trustworthy business practices or decision-making exist. Think “hot potato.”
  • Discussions/training on ethics and trust rarely occur and when they do, they are lead by either the compliance or legal department and focus on rules, not ethics and trust.
  • Ethical considerations/testing are not part of the hiring process and fear is widespread among employees.

Is Ethical Blindness at the organizational level fixable? Absolutely. But the first order of business requires leadership acknowledgement and commitment to elevating organizational trust and ethics.

These 12 Principles called TAP, were developed over the course of a year by a group of ethics and trust experts who comprise our Trust Alliance. They should serve as a great starting place for not only a discussion but a clear roadmap to eradicating Ethical Blindness. As a recent TAP commenter said:

An environment /culture that operates within this ethos sounds an awesome place to me , I would work there tomorrow if I knew where to look for it. 

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. A former consultant to McKinsey and many Fortune 500 CEOs and their firms, Barbara also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance, and is the editor of the award winning TRUST INC. book series and TRUST! Magazine. In 2012 she was named one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International, and in 2017 she became a Fellow of the Governance & Accountability Institute. Barbara holds a BA in International Affairs and an MBA. For more information contact

Copyright (c) 2018, Next Decade, Inc.




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Organizations are being challenged to become more trustworthy. We often hear about trust in the context of rebuilding it after a crisis. But to maintain long-term, positive stakeholder relationships, leaders must make trust an intentional organizational imperative.

According to Barbara Kimmel, CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World, “In order to effect change, trust can no longer be taken for granted. It is not a “soft skill” but rather a proactive intentional business strategy. Leaders must become trust “activists.” Those who choose to take a reactive approach are creating unnecessary enterprise risk.

How does the trust dialogue begin?

Prepared in collaboration with the Trust Alliance, the world’s largest group of trust scholars and practitioners, the Trust Alliance Principles (TAP) can be applied and practiced in any organization of any size. By adopting TAP, trust is built one person, team, project and organization at a time.

Take a look at these twelve words. They form the TAP INTO TRUST acronym. Each one of them can stand alone as a starting place to elevate trust in any size group in any organization anywhere.

For more information on TAP and the Principle behind each word, click on the “TAP INTO TRUST” blue button to the right.

Access our press release announcing this new program at this link.

Copyright 2018 Next Decade, Inc.

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Photo courtesy of

Have you noticed that as LinkedIn has grown, the user focus has shifted away from relationship building to individual advertising? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I am rowing alone in a sea, and it’s not the Caribbean.

As a LinkedIn user, have you considered the benefits of first building trust with your connections?  After all, LinkedIn is a great way to develop relationships that may lead to new business or collaborative opportunities down the road. Under the theory that trust is built over time and in incremental steps consider adjusting your LinkedIn “strategy” using some of the following trust-building suggestions.


  • Before accepting a new connection, take a minute to view the profile of the party who is reaching out. If there are no clear personal or professional synergies, consider passing on the invitation.
  • When accepting, send a note indicating that you have spent a few minutes reviewing the profile to get to know the new connection. Ask whether the other party had a specific reason for wanting to connect.
  • When sending an invitation, add a personal note showing some level of interest in the work of the potential new relationship.


  • First consider the usefulness to your connections of your next post. Are you posting for your benefit or for theirs? Cheap advertising isn’t always the best marketing strategy! (Same goes for posting to groups.)
  • Drop the insincere platitudes like “honored and humbled” when trumpting your minor successes. Save those words for the appropriate occasion.
  • Review your past posts. How many times do you use the words “Me, my, I?”
  • Don’t forget to acknowledge every comment on your post and also to reciprocate.


  • Periodically review connections and send a note to those who you might want to get to know better.
  • If you haven’t had any interaction beyond the first connection, never send a private message that is nothing more than an advertisement (usually an invitation to attend an event that involves paying a fee.)
  • Do not use your connections to create a mailing list. Ask for permission first.

What other suggestions do you have for building trust on LinkedIn? Please leave your comments below.

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. A former consultant to McKinsey & Company, she also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award- winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2017 she was named a Fellow of the Governance & Accountability Institute, and in 2012 she was recognized as one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International. She holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch at the City University of NY.

For more information visit our website at

You may also join our Constant Contact mailing list for updates on our progress.

Copyright (c) 2018, Next Decade, Inc.

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At Trust Across America-Trust Around the World we remain steadfast in our belief that trust is not a soft skill, nor should it be taken for granted. It is a tangible asset that impacts the bottom line.

Many of our colleagues believe that trust is a top down function, starting at the Board and flowing down through the organization. This means that both the Board and C-Suite must be trustworthy in order for their stakeholders to trust them.

We asked our Trust Alliance members and Top Thought Leaders to weigh in and the following are some “best practices” for elevating trust on both the Board and in the C-Suite.


To earn trust, an enterprise must have a strong corporate character – the unique differentiating identity that expresses its essence. Boards should be focused on – and demand management accountability for – the factors that contribute to corporate character. They include mission, purpose, values, culture, strategy, business model and brand.

Roger Bolton is the president of the Arthur W. Page Society


In order to ensure your corporate viability over time, and to effectively build trust with all stakeholders, it is crucial that strong alignment exists between your business agenda and societal expectations.  As captured in the popular line from Fiddler on the Roof, “on the other hand, there is no other hand” – running your enterprise in the face of societal expectations just won’t cut it.  Not anymore.  

Douglas Conant is the Founder & CEO of Conant Leadership


Just handling problems as they arise isn’t enough. The Conference Board calls for being proactive about business integrity and compliance critical for senior management, and even more so for boards of directors. If we manage corporate integrity based on reacting to problems, by the time we react, the problems are usually very difficult to manage. Being proactive about corporate integrity keeps CEOs and Boards focused on prevention and not cleanup.

Linda Fisher Thornton is CEO of Leading in Context LLC


We’ve all seen the press release. It goes something like this:

“We regret that the actions of a single rogue employee, Mr. BadGuy, were contrary to the values of this company. Our long ­established principles of integrity, honesty, truth, motherhood, and apple pie have been offended by the scandalous acts of Mr. BadGuy. We condemn the actions of Mr. BadGuy. Mr. BadGuy has left the building.”

In reality, the Rogue Employee excuse serves as an enabler, allowing Boards and CEOs to avoid asking tough questions like “why did our compliance program fail to detect or prevent this misconduct?” and “what failures in our culture and by our management allowed this problem to develop?”

When trouble knocks, compliance-savvy companies should retire the Rogue Employee excuse and instead enquire more deeply within, before others compel them to do so.

Donna Boehme is Principal, Compliance Strategists


Kill the “evening-before” executive team or board dinner. Instead, take a small group of front-line or mid-level employees to dinner in an informal setting, without the presence of other corporate executives. People are forthcoming, thoughtful, and engaging (to say nothing of appreciative).

Sign up for those “Google Alerts” or other independent news alerts to keep abreast of what others are saying or hearing or reading about the organization.

See the entity through the eyes of a new employee, be it via sitting quietly through a live new-employee orientation or its online equivalent.

Robert Galford is a Managing Partner of the Center for Leading Organizations


A company that wants to build trust should listen to the public dialogue about itself and its industry, identify what drives perceptions, and share information throughout the organization to influence decision-making.

What the organization says about itself: The company’s leaders and spokespeople should articulate (authentically) the positive impact their work has on society. In times of crisis they should express empathy and commitment to resolving the situation.

People expect organizations to be savvy about the conversation going on around it. Organizations that are blind to the dialogue, and only communicate outward are unlikely to build and maintain the trust required to be a respected and trusted business in the modern world.

Linda Locke is a Senior Vice President at Standing Partnership.


Boards no longer merely monitor the activities of a CEO and a firm. They can and should lead certain functions for the firm from defining the desired culture to involvement in strategy development. They can be a sounding board for the CEO on the lonely, difficult decisions he or she sometimes faces, especially in a time of crisis. But this mind-flipping attitude change can only be based on the board and CEO viewing each other as trusted allies.

Bob Vanourek is a former public company CEO and the founder of Triple Crown Leadership


Best advice: boards must develop their own robust crisis plans prior to any crisis. They must enumerate what kinds of actions will be taken for different issues: their crisis strategies and philosophies, the speed at which they will work, and who on the board will be designated to play first string, even if — especially if — the Chair or CEO is implicated in some way. 

Reputation is becoming one of the top priorities of corporate boards. The best way to protect reputation, and trustworthiness, is to plan before any crisis hits, adjust strategies in real time to fit the specifics of a crisis, and then for the board to execute its plan fearlessly. 

Davia Temin is the CEO of Temin & Company


Three prevailing archetypes of board dysfunction: the ego-driven board, the polite surrender board, and the micromanaging board. The protocols for authentic conversation, which require the right conditions for trust to develop, include:

  • Sufficient information and understanding to ask the right question.
  • A safe space that protects privacy and rejects behaviors to intimidate, ridicule, or insult.
  • Enough time to thoroughly explore systemic issues without jumping to conclusions.

The real question is: How long can an organization afford an unproductive board? In a fast changing world, trust is the key to good guidance.

Alain Bolea runs Business Advisors Network


Look for the flavor of “we versus they” in the wording of e-mails.  Whenever senior managers are writing to each other about an upcoming BOD meeting or other interface, are the pronouns showing a schism or do they indicate mutual support?  When BOD members interact online, does the evidence show a typical frustration, like if only “we” can get “them” to do thus and so.

If you know how to read in between the lines of e-mails, the signs are easily spotted long before a face-to-face meeting.  That can lead to corrective action before polarized attitudes are entrenched.

 Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow Inc


Finally, consider adding some gender diversity to your Board. Our most trustworthy public companies are doing just that, and the results speak for themselves. A closer analysis of our publicly released “Top 10” companies over six years reveals that the average percentage of women on boards is high.

Barbara Kimmel, CEO Trust Across America

Do you have any questions? Please direct them to

Barbara Brooks Kimmel is the CEO and Cofounder of Trust Across America-Trust Around the World whose mission is to help organizations build trust. She also runs the world’s largest global Trust Alliance and is the editor of the award- winning TRUST INC. book series. In 2017 she was named a Fellow of the Governance & Accountability Institute, and in 2012 she was recognized as one of “25 Women who are Changing the World” by Good Business International. She holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College and an MBA from Baruch at the City University of NY.

For more information visit our website at

You may also join our Constant Contact mailing list for updates on our progress.

Copyright (c) 2018, Next Decade, Inc.

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