According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in institutions is evaporating at an alarming rate. For 17 years, Edelman has measured trust in 28 countries. This year, trust in government, business, media and NGOs is little more than 47% on average. CEO credibility declined in all 28 countries to just 37%.

Interestingly, these stats represent institutions and business leaders in developed countries. It’s enough to make us stop and think, “Just how developed are leaders of the 21st century?” Is it time for a trust reset? If so, where do we begin?

We can choose to focus on issues in 2016 that contributed to the results – the rise of populist elections, protectionist governments, and fear of job displacement by the rapid rise in technology. But when we focus on the macro level, we can quickly become overwhelmed. We may think that what we do as individuals doesn’t matter in the big picture. The truth is that trust matters, and it starts with us.

In his book The Speed of Trust, author Stephen M.R. Covey states that trust has become the key leadership competency of the global economy. He argues that rebuilding trust at the macro level starts with each individual. Like a ripple in a pond, trust begins within each of us personally, continues into our relationships, expands into our organizations, and ultimately encompasses our global society.

Turning the trust lens from outward to inward requires us to take a hard look at ourselves. If you think you’re ready, download this Trust Self-Assessment to see how you would score.

 

If there is room for improvement in your score, consider making changes in these three key areas:

1. Do I fulfill commitments to myself and others? In our fast-paced, information overload world, we’ve become accustomed to overpromising and under delivering. But, when we don’t follow through with our commitments, we lose credibility with others and respect for ourselves. Before you make any commitment, ask yourself these questions: 1) Is this a commitment I really want to make? 2) Will I follow through with this? Pause and reflect, then commit, deliver and repeat.

 

2. Do I walk my talk? When we share half-baked ideas or say things we don’t really mean, we lose personal credibility. People won’t believe the message if they don’t believe the messenger. Make sure your actions match your words and beliefs. Lead by example, modeling for others through consistency, competency and communication.

 

3. Do I extend trust to others? As a leader with responsibilities for business outcomes, it can be hard to extend trust to others. Yet, when we micromanage and fact check, we send the message to our team that they can’t be trusted. Over time, we can end up leading a team of paranoid cynics who don’t trust one another. Between the extremes of gullibility and paranoia is smart trust. Learn how to extend smart trust here. No second-guessing required.

Self-trust is at the core of everything we do. It ripples through every relationship, the organization, the market, and society. Give others a person they can trust.

Question: How did you score on the Trust Self-Assessment? In which of the three key areas can you improve?