“Can I trust you?” Here’s how truth affects your bottom line.


“The single uniqueness of the greatest leaders and organizations of all time is trust.” So says David Horsager, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Author of “The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line.” According to the best selling Author, a lack of trust is our biggest expense. “Think Tiger Woods – and what twenty-seven breaches of trust cost him in terms of millions of dollars in endorsements.” According to his research, Horsager points out that when the level of trust increases, cost and skepticism went down. “People pay more for trusted brands. When there’s a climate of trust, the average consumer becomes a repeat costumer, and will tell others about the product. They will follow and vote for a trusted leader, willingly buy from a trusted sales person and respect a manager or teacher that shows themselves to be trustworthy,” he explains. This important discovery, creates a paradigm shift with regards to how we view trust and its impor- tance in leadership. I recently had an opportunity to chat with David to discuss
the subject.

In the course of your research, were you particularly surprised by any of your findings?

When I looked into the barriers to building trust, I came across a bit of research out of Harvard (Putnam) that suggested people living in homogeneous neighborhoods are 50% more trusting than those in diverse neighborhoods. This idea came under a lot of scrutiny for its political impropriety.

This study was based primarily on the living experiences of blacks and whites and how each were less trusting of those who look different. Although initially we are inclined to trust those whose appearance is similar to our own, there are many underlying differ-ences. So the point then becomes how do we create the right kind of homogeneity in a company or organization where we have to value diversity? For instance, in your company you may have men, women of different colors, races and backgrounds. The key then be- comes finding common ground so you can trust each other. In any company or organiza- tion, this is established by creating and maintaining a clear vision and values while en- joying the diversity of ideas and cultures. An example of this would be… if I’m in a war and someone is shooting at me, do I care about the color of their skin? Or that we have dif- ferent beliefs? No. All I care about is that we are shooting in the same direction! When you can get your company, organization or family shooting in the same direction, you can en- joy the benefits of diversity based on the trust and consistency of homogeneity in its values, vision and direction.


In what ways can leader ensure that he/she remains an individual of integrity and strong character?

Well, this gets partly to the idea that input leads to output. Putting good stuff in is critical. Whether its reflected in the way of solid relationships or reading good books…the idea is that he who walks with wise counsel grows wise. That means associating yourself with good close friends who will keep you accountable. It also means your life will be in the public eye and filled with opportunities to be busy doing good. If you are judged by any- thing, you are judged by your fruit. If you take note, during some of the toughest and busiest times in life, people seem to do their best. But in other instances, perhaps at times when people have too much money or to much time on their hands they have a tendency to do their worst because they are not contributing or moving towards something positive. It’s really healthy to work hard, have vision and know that you have to get the job done.

In your chapter on Clarity you speak of the importance of personal vision. Could you give our leaders some guidance on how to develop a personal vision statement and explain why it is so important to the development of their “Trust Edge?”

My personal vision is to love God and to love people. How do I do that? To act this out I have several actions I take to make that more concrete in my life. I’m not the first to think of this, but building a mission statement is essential. I encourage people to ask them- selves six questions as if it were their obituary; what would you most like your spouse, kids, best friend, your colleagues, and finally God to say about you? Out of this, you then have five or six sentences which give you a way to begin building a personal vision state- ment. These answers are not necessarily what you are now, but the mission of what you hope to be. For leaders, I press them to define the top five values they use to make decisions. There has to be clarity. When leaders define their top values, decision making happens much quicker and is more congruent.

In what common ways can a leader loose trust?

Greed, selfishness, pride all come to mind, but one of the common ways a leader loses trust is by saying one thing and doing another. For example, presenting a corporate vision at the Annual Meeting but not providing a way to empower people to carry that out. We see this over and over again. Another way to lose trust is through issues with personal charac- ter. Personal character will always affect public performance and the only way to re-build
trust is to keep a commitment. It’s not the apology… i.e. Lance Armstrong or B.P, but it’s making and keeping a commitment.

For those who are not yet familiar can you give an overview of ‘The 8 Pillars of Trust’?

David: Certainly. The 8 pillars are clarity, character, compassion, competency, commit- ment, connection, contribution and consistency. Let me elaborate.

The first pillar is clarity: People trust the clear and mistrust the ambiguous. But Clarity is about much more than vision. Clarity also involves what is expected of us. “The teacher or parent who is clear about expectations tends to be more trusted than the teacher who is unclear about expectations.” Or the sales person who is clear about the benefits of the product not just how cool it is provides us the assurance we need in order to purchase that product without hesitation.

Compassion: “We trust those who think and care beyond themselves. People who only think of themselves are usually not trusted. “

Character: “The leaders who have this pillar specifically are usually marked by the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done, whether they felt like it or not. There is a lot to be said about character, but if you can, try to get this principle of doing what you ought to do rather than you feel like doing.”


The next pillar is Competency: We trust those who stay fresh, relevant, and capable. While I may trust you Adam to take my kids to a ball game because of your character, I might not trust you to give me a root canal because you are not competent in that area.
In other words in the area you want to be trusted you need to be competent.”

The next pillar is commitment. We trust those who are able to remain committed through adversity not just when things were easy.

Next is connection. We trust those who are not just independent but interdependent – those who are willing to work together. A great example right now is what’s happening in Detroit. Chrysler is making nine and ten speed transmissions on their own but in an amazing show of collaboration GM and Ford put their RND’s departments together to come up with nine and ten speed transmissions. Even though they are huge competitors,
they were able to save a hundred million dollars by collaborating and working together.

The next pillar is contribution. And this pillar simply states that at the end of the day I need to see results. You can have compassion and impeccable character, but if you don’t give me the results I asked for or are expected, I’m not going to trust you. On the other hand you can give me lots of results like some sales people I know, but not have compas- sion or character and over time I won’t trust you either. There’s an important distinction we gathered from our research, if you want to have this ‘Trust Edge’ you have to have all eight pillars, not just one or two.

trust-edge-book1There’s an important distinction from the research that show that you have to have all eight pillars. You have got have results, you have got to have character, compassion … and so on – but if you want to have this ‘Trust Edge,’ you have to have all eight not just one or two. The final pillar is consistency. Consistency is
the pillar I often start with when I speak because it’s the king of the pillars. If you are consistent for good or bad, that’s what I’ll trust you do. If you are late all the time, I’ll trust you to be late. If you speak kindly of people whether they are in the room or not, I’ll trust you to do that. You can trust McDonalds even if you don’t like McDonalds because they give us the same burger in Clevland, Frankfurt or Tokyo. It might be made of something else (laughs) but looks the same, taste the same and has the pickles half centered just
the same.

David Horsager, M.A., C.S.P, is an author, entrepreneur, professor, and award-winning keynote speaker who researches and speaks on the bottom-line impact of trust. David’s signature speech and nationally best selling book,
The Trust Edge, have inspired leaders and motivated teams toward greater results on four continents and across the U.S.

To learn more please visit www.davidhorsager.com/


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