Trust: The Hard Currency Of Business

Technique and technology are important, but adding trust is the issue of the decade.” – Tom Peters

While businesses fight to win on strategy, product, innovation, and route to market, the biggest intangible asset of all languishes in the corner, condemned as soft, fluffy and irrelevant. That asset is trust.

When trust is absent, you know it. The lack of it topples governments, destroys relationships and undermines businesses. It shows up in turf wars and fiefdoms, hidden agendas and politicking, interpersonal conflict, gossip and defend-and protect communication. It impedes debate, slows decisions, obstructs teamwork and restricts creativity. It creates an “us” and “them” divide that management teeters across on an unsteady bridge of engagement surveys.

“Our distrust is very expensive.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many companies function with a lack of trust at their heart, but few would recognize it as an economic drain. Some businesses put up with the lack of trust or try a variety of palliative measures. For others, however, the economic nature of trust is becoming more and more apparent. When trust goes down, speed goes down and costs go up. When trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down.

Think about the relationships you have where trust is high. It’s easier to get things done, to put issues on the table and discuss them, to be yourself, to believe in the agreements you make. If something goes wrong, you are more likely to see it in a positive light.

Then think about the opposite. When trust is low, what happens? You may be spending a lot of time and energy managing a relationship, making sure things don’t go wrong, trying to come to an agreement and dodging the issues. When things go awry, you are very unlikely to give the other side the benefit of the doubt.

How much effort and energy is burned up by businesses dealing with this kind of friction? How much time and money is lost? Most companies, irrespective of size and sector, are made up of a fabric of relationships between individuals, teams, managers, stakeholders, clients, and pliers. Most, at some point, will experience competing priorities, multiple (and sometimes opposing) objectives and erratic communication. Potentially, you have a constant source of fuel for the frictional fire and its impact on results.

Building trust is not an overnight sensation. It cannot be mandated or forced. It takes gaining insight into yourself and to others and sharing experiences over time. It takes a leader with the courage to step forward and believe it’s possible to bridge a level of trust. It’s frustrating, challenging and demanding, but the rewards it yields are massive for individuals, for teams, and for businesses.

Most significantly, when there is trust, we can adjust perceptions of one another and work together differently, feel happier, enjoy ourselves more and lift our individual productivity as a result. And that is gold dust for any company.

Third Level works to create teams built on trust, which in turn, brings new heights of collaboration and productivity. For more information about how Third Level can help your employees learn to power listen, call US 800.262.0705/ UK 44 345 056 3383 or email


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Gary Press

Owner and CEO of Lifestyle Management Group. Fort Lauderdale, USA.

Steve has repeatedly shown an innate talent to quickly capture the attention and build trust with the people in my businesses - particularly those in leadership positions. Once this happens, truths become unlocked and problems become solved. He delivers in an entertaining and engaging fashion that produces creative team work and bottom line profits.


Nick Williams

Managing Director – Digital, Lloyds Banking Group, London, England

I’m a better leader, husband and father as a result of the work I do with Stephen. I’ve engaged the programme with multiple teams over 12 years, and we continue to generate exceptional business results. I see the programme as my gift for all those who I’ve worked with and led. Without exception, they feel much better about themselves and the world they live in - delivering measurable business improvement through engagement as inspiring leaders of high-performing teams.

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