Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trust a Core Leadership Competency

The Challenge

Innovation is a top CEO level priority in every organization that wants to remain competitive globally in ever changing market dynamics. Increasingly innovation know-how - the sparks of ideas for new products, services or ways of working are sourced from collaborative knowledge exhanges in internal or external conversations.

These innovation sparks increase in value based on the quality and trust of the conversation to the receiver. Sounds simple. However - with the realities that our world is increasingly driven via internet conversations, and collaborative online exchanges - organizations need to increase their leadership and learning development programs to ensure core competencies for trust making are healthy and strong.

The first important point is that to drive innovation growth in an organization you need to genuinely listen to, and respond to your talent, the voice of your customers, and your partners.
This also sounds simple. But it's not.

Rapid Market Speed but declining Levels of Trust

In today's attention deficit business economy driven by a warp speed appetite for 24x7 responsiveness, stress levels are at all time highs in global businesses. What most executives fail to focus on is ensuring that they are sustaining innovation capacity in their organizations, to see what others cannot see. This requires developing a strong corporate culture where trust making is a leadership core competency. Organizations that do it right have accountabilities for leadership development where trust development is measured and accountability systems for trust sense making is pervasive in diverse human performance systems ranging from recruiting, employee development, succession planning and ongoing leadership development programs.

One company I continue to admire and respect is Cisco with John Chambers leadership style so consistently communicating the value of collaboration and trust. He has developed a strong company with root systems connecting business accumen, mind, spirit and values where collaboration is cherished culturally for growth and leaders there understand that to develop trust will accelerate innovation capacity development.

However this is not a pervasive strength in NA and the impacts are starting to show as we are in a Trust Crisis.

"A recent BBB-Gallop poll indicates a 24% decrease in trust of business during the past year. This was before last year's financial crisis. Steven Cole, President and CEO, National Council of Better Business Bureaus, asserted that, "The continuing decline of consumer trust is just not sustainable for businesses, but, interestingly, the issue highlights a clear opportunity for competitive advantage among businesses that embrace consumer demand for trust in the marketplace."

The fastest way to get the NA economy back on track: rebuild and restore trust, in every industry, every organization, every government, and every relationship. Seventy-two percent (72%) of those surveyed in the BBB-Gallop poll say it's as simple as businesses "doing a better job delivering on their promises."

Why Stephen Covey has it Right

The numerous endorsements by CEOs in The Speed of Trust written by Stephen Covery reinforces that there are 13 learning behaviors for developing trust as a mission critical competitive advantage in the new global economy.

My research at Helix in leading Fortune 500 companies is that Trust is the core root for developing collaboration capacity and over time with increases knowledge sharing, iinnovation capacity and organizational resilence matures. However to drive growth trust is not enough - the flow of knowledge sharing of ideas, business know -how has to engender a reciprocal dynamic of trusting knowledge exchange. The health of these social network flows is what is critical to take stock of and often those in power are blockers of knowledge flows and creating a trusting work place environment. So if Boards of Directors or CEO's really care abotu innovation capacity and organiational agility they need to measure trust and ensure the right leaders are in place.

What Stephen Covey is Missing - read our next blog entry next week.

If this blog has peaked your curiousity, send me a note back as my next article will focus on the specific leadership behaviors that Stephen Covey has identified for trust sense making and those that we believe he is explicitely missing in his research based on our research on collaboration and innovation in relationship to using next generation digital social media solutions like Igloo or Jive business collaboration Web 2.0 platforms. We believe that other solutions like IBM Lotus and Microsoft Sharepoint have their place and can nicely co-exist with these next generational solutions. What is critical is to ensure the personal brand of each employee in an organization recognizes trust is rooted in their personal brand and brand and reputation in an online world is a key factor for stimulating growth centric conversations.


Anonymous said...
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Dr. Cindy Gordon said...

NOt sure of the relevance of this comment.

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