The Good News About Trust: You Can Cultivate It

How do companies and leaders become trustworthy? And once lost, can trust be regained?

The long-awaited and timely new book, “The Power of Trust: How Companies Earn It, Lose It, Regain It” (Public Affairs, July 6, 2021) by co-authors Sandra J. Sucher and Shalene Gupta, answers those questions and more in a way other books on the subject could not have done even a few years ago.

In an era of rising scrutiny and consumer activism, amplified by cell phone captures and online posts, it is impossible for organizational leaders to have successful relationships with boards, investors, customers, and employees if they are viewed as deceptive – or worse, publicly accused of or indicted for misbehavior.

As corporate advisors to major firms, Sucher and Gupta help leaders head off potential disasters by teaching them how to proactively cultivate trust. They also guide leadership decisions when reputations are called into question.

“Trust underpins a range of issues related to gender, corporate responsibility, race and beyond,” says Sucher, a Harvard Business School professor and former corporate executive who sits on the Edelman Trust Institute advisory board and has collaborated with Deloitte on TrustIQ™, a proprietary tool that measures key elements of trust in major corporations and public sector organizations.

“We often think of trust in an ephemeral way, as a good feeling that everyone shares. But trust is actually a skill grounded in relationship management and understanding motivations. It’s a framework designed to change cultures and open the door to more effective ways of engaging with constituents.”

“The good news is, trust can be cultivated and lost trust can be regained,” adds Gupta, a research associate at Harvard Business School  (HBS) who previously worked as a reporter at Fortune and as a financial analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department. “But it is a deliberate process that must be activated with intention and a commitment to open conversations.”

In a recent HBR article, “What Corporate Boards Can Learn from Boeing’s Mistakes,” the co-authors outline steps board members can take to prevent reputational damage and avoid becoming the next Boeing.

“Boeing’s board failed in many ways,” they conclude, “but buried in its failures are lessons other boards can learn.”

 

Advance Praise for “The Power of Trust”

“You can’t buy it. You can’t sell it. You can’t even see it. But if you had more of it, your employees would work harder, and your customers would stay with you longer. Trust is one of the most valuable intangible assets that a company can have and this book will show you how to get more of it. Packed with wonderful stories and practical examples, this book is a great read. TRUST me!”

— Erin Meyer, INSEAD, author of “The Culture Map” and coauthor of “No Rules Rules”

“The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer found business is the most trusted institution. Business has a new mandate to lead as the world combats ongoing crises and widespread mistrust. Against this backdrop, ‘The Power of Trust’ is a must-read. Both scholarly and practical, it draws on fields from ancient philosophy to modern management theory to analyze and deeply examine the core elements of business trust while taking a lively journey through real-world cases of trust won and lost (and won again). Professor Sandra Sucher and Shalene Gupta make a vital contribution to the trust conversation and provide a compelling call to action for CEOs to build trust by embracing a broader societal role.”

— Richard Edelman, CEO, Edelman

“Full of fresh insights brought to life by compelling examples, ‘The Power of Trust’ is a rich and rewarding read. It’s also extremely timely. With more and more companies today pledging to balance the interests of all of their stakeholders, and not always put their shareholders first, Sandra Sucher and Shalene Gupta make clear that the driving question executives should be asking themselves every time they make a major decision is, ‘Will this enhance trust among those we claim to serve—or betray it?’”

— Rick Wartzman, author of “The End of Loyalty”

“Unveils a new understanding of the business, economic, and societal importance of trust.”

— Jeffery Weirens, global financial advisory leader, Deloitte

“With vibrant and compelling insights, Sandra Sucher and Shalene Gupta break important new ground about trust as a key foundation for both human relationships and business. Their illuminating and exciting exploration of what it takes to build trust, combined with vivid storytelling, make this page-turner a critical companion for any business leader.”

— Hubert Joly, former chairman and CEO, Best Buy, and author of “The Heart of Business”

“Trust is at the foundation of sustainably successful enterprises in business, government, and any organization, for that matter. ‘The Power of Trust’ does a great job explaining the how and why of building trust, including fairness, one of my favorite issues.”

— David M. Cote, former CEO, Honeywell, and author of “Winning Now, Winning Later”

“Sandra Sucher and Shalene Gupta offer a comprehensive blueprint for companies and leaders who want to build or regain the trust of their stakeholders. Their work provides an insightful trust model that underpins moral leadership — looking at competence, motives, means, and impact. A brilliant resource for anyone who wants to truly understand what trust is, how it works, and what they can do to incorporate it into their leadership practice.”

 — Celia Moore, co-director, Centre for Responsible Leadership, Imperial College Business School

Marianne Kelly: