Workhuman Book Club: “The Trust Edge” by David Horsager

June 4, 2019 Lynne Levy

5-minute read

The Workhuman® Book Club was created to inspire you with thought leadership from our speakers all year long, help you connect with other people who love to read, and provide exclusive opportunities to interact with authors. To participate in book discussions, follow Workhuman on Facebook and Twitter.

The trust edge book

“I need to review every piece of material that is sent to any customer,” said a former boss. “Yes, I know we all agree on the messaging, but I need still need to review everything.”

My team was not trusted to do our jobs. The statement had a negative impact on morale, productivity, innovation, and engagement within the group. Most of the team ended up leaving due to a lack of trust. Many of us took the frustration home each night to our families.

I’ve worked for various organizations over my career, and the one thing that made the difference between success and mediocrity was trust. The organizations that had a culture of trust ended up innovating, growing their customer base, and having a thriving employee experience.

Our Workhuman Book Club selection this month is “The Trust Edge” by David Horsager. He uses research, metrics, and success stories to show leaders the value of trust and how to make it a part of the organizational culture.

The book is focused on how individuals and organizations can develop trust on a daily basis with practical tools. Today, traditional leadership hierarchies are being replaced by networked, social organizations. In these settings, building a trusted culture is more crucial than ever.

In an environment where customer expectations are high, decisions are being made closer to the front line. According to Gary Hamel, “authority … will be a currency you earn from your peers.”  The ingredient to building this authority is trust.

In “The Trust Edge,” David outlines the 8-Pillar Trust Edge Framework™ and how each component drives a culture of engagement, productivity, innovation, loyal customers, and employees. Let’s walk through how they apply throughout the organization:

  1. Clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous. Clarity unifies, motivates, increases morale, and inspires trust. If employees do not understand how the mission of the organization applies to their daily job, trust in the organization, its leaders, and even their peers will decline. Clarity provides a goal post against which to measure decisions.
  2. Compassion: People put faith in those who care beyond themselves. We should not underestimate the bottom-line impact of compassion. The ability to show care, empathy, and compassion is essential to building trust. David challenges everyone to start thinking like the customer, patient, and client, and to be able to walk in their shoes. In each conversation, up and down the organization, develop compassion for the perspective of others.
  3. Character: People notice those who do what is right over what is easy. Character is about being humble, living principles and values, being intentional, practicing self-discipline, and being accountable. When each employee lives their principles and aligns with organizational values, the organization becomes unstoppable.
  4. Competency: People have confidence in those who stay fresh, relevant, and capable. David encourages all of us to continually seek out new ideas and fresh thoughts, and to always be learning. One tool to drive this type of learning is to invest in a mentor.
  5. Commitment: People believe in those who are tenacious through adversity. Actions speak louder than words. Leaders need to demonstrate the willingness to stand up for their mission and purpose, even in the face of adversity. This applies to formal leaders, team leaders, and individual contributors who need to demonstrate the tenacity to work through challenging issues and customer struggles, and to stay true to the mission of the organization. When this commitment happens throughout the organization, trust will grow exponentially.
  6. Connection: People want to follow, buy from, and be around friends. Increasing connection builds involvement and engagement. Trust is all about relationships. Two critical tools to making a connection are gratitude and appreciation.
  7. Contribution: People respond to results. Perfection is the enemy of progress. If colleagues are consistently waiting for you to deliver, you’re not only costing them hours or days, but also destroying their trust in you. Each person needs to be motivated to perform excellent work and at the same time, know when to move it to completion.
  8. Consistency: People love to see the little things done consistently, and that’s the only way to build a brand or reputation. Individuals and organizations are trusted for whatever they do consistently – whether good or bad!  

Trust can accelerate or destroy any business or organization. Implementing these pillars takes patience and diligence. It requires a new type of leader – one who sees the long-term value of trust and recognizes that trust is not a soft skill, but rather an economic driver that can be built on a daily basis. It is a leader who understands that trust is the fabric holding the connected, social organization together. The good news is trust can be built through consistent, positive behaviors constructed over time. Trust is the currency that keeps organizations growing.

Discussion questions:

  1. What steps can you take this quarter to build trust throughout each level of your organization?  What specific actions can you take?
  2. Who can you build connection with today by showing them appreciation?
  3. What trust barriers can your organization overcome? 
  4. What is a commitment you have made lately that you can fulfill today?
  5. How are you modeling trust on a daily basis? What personal changes could you make to trust your teams?

(David Horsager will join us for a Workhuman Book Club Twitter chat on Friday, June 28, at 12 p.m. ET. Tweet your questions about trust at work to @DavidHorsager using the hashtag #workhuman.)

About the Author

Lynne Levy

Lynne Levy is a Workhuman evangelist who lives and breathes helping organizations build cultures that bring out the best in the employees. Her mantra is “do what you love, love what you do.”