The Value of Trust
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Last week our nation held its midterm election, and many were surprised by the outcomes. At the time I am writing this, the exact number of re-elected incumbents isn’t fully known yet, but most of them were re-elected. At the same time, news outlets reported that nearly nine out of 10 people feel the country is on the wrong track. If that’s true, why did so many incumbents get re-elected? I think it all boils down to trust. People aren’t happy, but the new options they looked at didn’t build trust.

There are eight actions that build trust. As I go through the eight, ask yourself if those looking for our support lived out six or more of these actions.

  1. Consistency in Actions – Our actions and words must be consistent over time. When our actions and our words aren’t congruent, people can’t trust us.
  2. Honest Communications – When we speak, we need to forget the spin and speak the truth in love. Our communications should be such that it is easily confirmed by our actions.
  3. Transparency – I don’t think much more needs to be said about transparency. Just be real.
  4. Humility – Often, humility is misunderstood. It doesn’t mean thinking less of ourselves; it means thinking more highly of others.
  5. Proven Support – People need to feel that we actively support them and are interested in their hopes, dreams, and beliefs.
  6. Fulfilled Promises – We need to have a track record of keeping our word, and this track record needs to be easily verified. Too many speak about what they plan to do rather than what they have accomplished. A track record speaks for itself.
  7. A Servant Attitude – Leadership, in any form, needs to focus on how we help others achieve their goals and dreams. Zig Ziglar said it best, “You can have anything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”
  8. Two-way Participation – Two-way communication is key. People don’t expect to get everything they ask for, but they do need to feel valued, and people feel valued when they feel heard.

From 1953 – 1962 Ronald Reagan hosted the General Electric Theater, a television program that ran on Sunday nights on NBC. During this time, Reagan visited each GE plant in the United States and met with employees. As a spokesperson for the company, he felt it was important to learn as much as possible about their hopes, dreams, and beliefs. This “listening tour” would prove crucial later in his life. It would help earn him the title “The Great Communicator.”

In 1980 with interest rates soaring and inflation out of control, President Ronald Reagan won the presidency with 489 electoral votes and a 9.7 % popular vote margin. In 1984 he won with 525 electoral votes and an 18.2 % popular vote margin. Walter Mondale only won 13 electoral votes—his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

People trusted President Reagan. He had a track record from his years as the governor of California, spoke from his years of listening at GE, and carried himself with great humility. Not that he thought less of himself, but his servant’s heart had him thinking more of us, and it showed. World leaders also trusted him, and under his leadership, the Iron Curtain fell, and freedom spread throughout Europe. The record of his achievements speaks much louder than he ever would have.

Our 40th president understood the value of trust, and we should also.