The folks at Gallup who do polls for a living recently released the latest trustworthiness rating of various professions, including members of U.S. Congress, and the folks in Washington DC just set a record! Specifically, 64% of Americans rate the honest and ethical standards of the members of Congress as low or very low. Gallup has never seen worse. Car salesmen were second worst at 61%, tied with lobbyists! Net, as far as the public is concerned, they simply don’t trust the Washington DC crowd!
There is nothing a leader should fear more than not being trusted. Lack of trust makes leading impossible. How do you lose people’s trust? Easy…you lie, exaggerate the positive and downplay the negative, blame others when problems are your responsibility, and most importantly, you don’t deliver what you promise. Given that list, it is easy to see why Washington DC is not trusted.
What are some positive examples? How about Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford. He came in fresh in 2006, was totally objective about what was wrong, put plans in place to fix things, and then accomplished what he set out to do.
And then there’s Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota, who apologized in early 2010 for the accidents in Toyota cars thought to have accelerator pedal issues even before the reasons for the problems were clear( of course, the press instantly concluded it was Toyota’s fault). In response, Toyota did massive analyses, making sure there were no problems with their cars, but the press continued to beat them up. Importantly, Akio didn’t gloat when the independent testing firm announced a year later that virtually all the problems were caused by driver error (mistakenly having their foot on the gas versus the brake!). Akio must be very proud of the recently released 2012 Consumer Reports awards, showing Toyota won five of the ten “Top Picks.”
The guidelines in this area are clear:
• Speak the truth at all times.
• Be objective.
• Get things done.
• Take responsibility when things go wrong.
That is what builds trust!