Trust in Crisis? Start the Trust Building Cycle
In 1978 when Nike released the ‘Tailwind’, it was jam-packed with a dozen new innovations, they did a major launch at the Honolulu Marathon and within ten days had to issue a recall because ‘metal bits’ came flying out. Two key things that came out of this lesson for Nike that business leaders can embrace are;
1. They embraced the failure as a learning and ACTIVELY IMPROVED how they did things
2. Customers gave the product another go because they believed Nike was innovating FOR THEM. They revised Tailwind went on to become an absolute top seller for them.
Circa 40 years and we have corporations with failing products failing to ACTIVELY IMPROVE on the opportunity to strengthen relationships with customers and build trust. The recent 2017 PWC CEO studies state "63% of CEOs are concerned about the lack of trust in business. CEOs say trust in business is at an all-time low. Technology has exacerbated the challenge but trust is a leadership issue. “
I agree trust is a leadership issue. Business leaders are failing to understand the power they have to build trust within their organisations. They are failing to prioritise trust as a cultural activity, subsequently losing the leverage trust creates to be faster than competitors, operationally productive and safely innovative. More often than not they are also failing to act trustworthy. The good news is in most cases it’s actually not because leaders are not worthy of trust, it’s because they don’t how to confidently lead through failure.
Break down the behaviour of the Nike executives whenever they got into trouble and there is a useful pattern all leaders can benefit from. Refreshingly the same trust building cycle used at the corporate market level by Nike is the same powerful steps used at the individual level.
Trust Building Cycle
- Acknowledge the visible evidence; don’t add meaning, just acknowledge the evidence
- Understand and accept the impact of that evidence from the meaning of the recipient; don’t make excuses, empathise - that is feel the pain you created in another being
- Stop the issue straight away; don’t hesitate, don’t blame, don’t waste time - just stop
- Dissolve the problems so it doesn’t happen again; don’t just hide the issue, nor ignore the causes
- Revise another go together; create safety from what you’ve learned and just do it again.
You don’t need magic PR, major spin or sales trick to build trust from failure. Yes, it helps with the scale of economies when you are reaching out to an entire market. And remember the Relational Leader understands that leadership is always a one to one relationship by which you will be measured; regardless of whether you lead one person or one million people. Practice being relational to the moment and intentional to improvement.