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Trust is in crisis around the world says Stuart MacKenzie of Maynard Leigh Associates. He examines how leaders can win it back.

According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that trust is at an all-time low, and it’s understandable. In a world with presidents who have a fluid idea of facts, politicians who will sell us a busload of baloney, where fake news itself is making headlines and where decade-long wars have been fought based on dodgy dossiers, it’s no wonder 84 per cent of millennials say they have lost trust in their leaders.

And it’s not just the younger generations. In the modern world, we all have a right to be cynical. Sometimes, that cynicism can be healthy. The death of deference is not necessarily a bad thing. It means fresh ideas can come to the fore and deliver positive change.

But when we are left with a society where people feel the system isn’t working for them, the outcome can be a loss of hope. We end up with an hourglass shaped economy, with money and power at the top, the very poor at the bottom, and very little in the middle.

The question is whether leaders within business want to address the disconnection currently rife in society. At Maynard Leigh, we suggest they should.

Our view is that trust leads to meaning, which leads to engagement. Engagement is what leaders need but trust is the starting point and it matters. In a cynical world, leaders of every generation have to work for it.

At Maynard Leigh, we have four proprietary steps to building relationships and eventually winning trust, which have been used successfully time and time again by blue chip companies throughout the world. Our VIDI process involves the steps: Value, Involve, Develop, Inspire.


Show your people that you value them. If people feel valued, not because they are a pair of hands, but because of the perspective they bring, they are far more willing to invest trust. So ask them what they think. In our seminars, we often start this by asking two simple questions: what’s the point of you, and what’s your point of view? It’s a simple way to get people to open up, take a second look at why they are doing the job they do, but also to bring them into the process of involvement.


Once you have shown your people you value their point of view, get them involved. The sense of being involved rather than being delegated a responsibility will produce seismic results in terms of team engagement. Bring your people into projects as early as possible. Ask their opinion and you are more likely to avoid people being threatened by change, and instead create a sense of belonging and understanding that will pay back dividends in productivity.


If you can get everyone feeling valued and involved, don’t then just sit back and leave them to it. Investing in continually training your people will keep them on track and reassure them of how much you value them and their involvement ongoing.

Ensuring you are developing your people’s skills will help boost their feeling they have a future in an organisation where they will always have a place.


The final step is to inspire your people with your complete vision. Shouldn’t inspiration be the starting point? Well, it’s difficult to inspire people who do not feel you value them, don’t feel involved and who are unsure of their future with you. So inspiration comes at the end. It’s about closing the loop and putting meaning into action. There is a certain nakedness in saying, “this is what I believe.”

Showing your inner self to your team will help them feel you are on a journey together, with you leading from the middle, not necessarily the front.