Trust Me, You Need to Read This

Leading in the 21st Century network era requires skills we have not honed in the achievements and accomplishments that delivered us to this position of leadership.  Yesterday, I was watching Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State, talking candidly about the careful art of negotiation:

“The longer I do this, the more convinced I am that mistrust and misunderstanding are often the real fundamental obstacles to bringing people together…  and that means people from both sides of whatever divide it is… people have to start listening to each other to build habits of cooperation that might possibly lead to greater trust.”

– Hillary Clinton, Fareed Zakaria GPS,  Sunday, July 27, 2014

We need to cultivate trust in our networks or we are doomed.  And not in the form of carefully crafted corporate communications missives that mouth the trust words, real trust.  According to the American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, 1 in 4 employees don’t trust their employers at all.

trust hbr

Within Change Agents Worldwide, we are experimenting with a model that does not depend on the inherent economic dependency of employment.  Everything we do is “opt-in” and, essentially, voluntary.  The balance between self-interest and group interest has to be calibrated and tweaked with precision, or the invisible force that holds the network together falters, destabilizes. That invisible force, that magnetism, is trust.

This weekend, I started reading Reid Hoffman‘s new book, The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.  He got my attention in the first few pages:

As much as companies might yearn for a stable environment and employees might yearn for lifetime employment, the world has irrevocably changed. But we also can’t keep going the way we’ve been going. Trust in the business world (as measured by the proportion of employees who say they have a “high level of trust in management and the organization” they work for) is near an all-time low.(6) A business without loyalty is a business without long-term thinking. A business without long-term thinking is a business that’s unable to invest in the future. And a business that isn’t investing in tomorrow’s opportunities and technologies— well, that’s a company already in the process of dying.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the book.  I’m finding more and more that people who have been working in networks are all learning these truths simultaneously.  At Change Agents Worldwide, we are working toward making work more human.  With that, comes a certain, “Be careful what you ask for.”

knifeHumans are messy.

Robots are easy.

Here’s to making leadership in the 21st Century more human. Think of it as self-management improv, or as one of our newest network members, Jennifer Frahm calls it, “Next Practices.”



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2 Responses to “Trust Me, You Need to Read This”

  1. Kevin Jones July 30, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    “A business without loyalty is a business without long-term thinking.”

    I don’t agree with this at face value. Loyalty to a company is NOT the basis of a stable environment. Loyalty to a CAUSE is. We need to be loyal to something beyond a company – a higher purpose. For politics, economics, demographics, success, failure – all these things can change a company from a darling to a monster. But if we are focused on a purpose we have the ability to expand and contract, to see far out into the future – one we won’t be afraid to invest in because we believe in and can even feel the outcome.

    • Susan Scrupski July 30, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Loyalty will be important in the 21st century. It’s a tribal bond that enables individuals to focus on a vantage point, and not be bogged down with self-interest. Healthy companies that act consistently according to their values inspire loyalty. This is not a good/bad judgment either. Wall Street firms and street gangs inspire loyalty based on values, as well as charitable “social good” organizations.

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