Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation

Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation

by Nan S. Russell
Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation

Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation

by Nan S. Russell

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This is a difficult time to be a leader. The majority of employees are disengaged, their discretionary efforts tamed, passions for work fleeting, and ideas tethered.

None of this needs to stop you. You can create a workplace where engagement, passion, and great work thrives.

If you're someone's boss, whatever your level or role, you can use these trust essentials to:
  • Create your own Trust, Inc.—a thriving pocket where engagement and results flourish
  • Be a trusted leader people work with, for, and around—with passion and enthusiasm
  • Enhance your leadership future using "what-does-it-look-like?" approaches and "how-does-it-happen?" tips, exercises, and insights

    Don't let what you can't do affect what you can. Trust, Inc. gives you real-world ways to create, nurture, and sustain authentic trust in your work group.

  • Product Details

    ISBN-13: 9781601632852
    Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
    Publication date: 11/25/2013
    Edition description: First Edition
    Pages: 256
    Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

    About the Author

    Nan S. Russell has shared her workplace insights and practical wisdom with a wide variety of people, from coal miners and Navy engineers to college students and senior leaders at nonprofits and Fortune 100 corporations, igniting passions, crystallizing thinking, and changing results. She's a national speaker, consultant, and radio host, the award-winning author of Hitting Your Stride, a blogger for, and the job-loss recovery expert for Her column, "Winning at Working," can be found in more than 90 publications. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. from the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband in northwestern Montana.

    Read an Excerpt


    Create Your Trust-Pocket

    If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.

    ~ John Quincy Adams

    Ebenezer Scrooge is not a typical model for leaders, but he's a good place to start. Working in his establishment would be the antithesis of a thriving, winning trust-pocket. Still, as self-serving and stone-hearted as Dickens's character appears, he did get a few things right. Scrooge didn't profess that Bob Cratchit was his most important asset, or suggest that if Bob worked harder he'd be rewarded. He didn't claim they were in it together, or that they were both suffering in economic downtimes. Ebenezer Scrooge rendered no unkept promises, offered no dangling carrots, and established no expectations that if deadlines were met, quarterly goals were achieved, or problems were solved, Bob would be rewarded, help would arrive, work-family balance would be restored, or working conditions would improve.

    Of course, I'm not suggesting Scrooge's despicable management style is to be emulated, but our own nightmares await if work trust is not rebuilt. And for those who lead groups, manage teams, or run businesses, there are three insights worth learning from Ebenezer:

    1. What Scrooge said and did were in alignment. What plagues work cultures 150 years after Scrooge's time is our misalignment. What bosses say and what they do are frequently disconnected, fueling distrust, disengagement, and discontent. Most bosses don't pause long enough to consider their actions through staff lenses, or perceive the unintended consequences occurring when their words and actions differ. But they need to.

    2. Scrooge was who he professed to be. No insincere caring. No hollow praise. No hypocrisy. Bob Cratchit understood Scrooge's management style completely. Today, people still want bosses to be who they profess they are and show up consistently. How else can they judge their boss as good-hearted or manipulating, friend or foe, enabler or scammer? Of course, in this Knowledge Age, the work itself has changed, and people don't offer today's golden eggs to Scrooge-like bosses.

    3. Scrooge accepted feedback, made self-adjustments, and changed. The transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from self-serving boss to enlightened man is more harrowing than most workplace "Aha!" moments. And it's more instant than building authentic trust. But openness to transforming our ways is as powerful today as it was then. And operating with trust currency is transformational for people and results.

    If you choose to create your own Trust, Inc. (your thriving trust-pocket) you'll discover, as did Scrooge, that new ways bring brighter days — in your case, a path of positive impact, with rewardsthat include genuine relationships, personal growth, and exceptional results, as well as more opportunities, low attrition, and higher well-being.

    This chapter offers the basics. Consider it the equivalent of Scrooge's visitations by the ghosts of the past, present, and future: By the end, he knew what he wanted to do; hopefully, you will too. Here's your first glimpse of your future:

    Trust, Inc. \ noun. \ 1. A thriving pocket of trust (a.k.a. trust-pocket) where passion, engagement, innovation, and great work flourishes. 2. A place where trust currency is made. 3. A work group, requiring no formal approval or permission, that enables authentic trust. 4. A self-created winning culture led by a trusted boss. 5. A business culture operating with sustainable trust currency that regularly pays dividends.


    There are two kinds of people at work: those who function with trust only as a noun (a belief, condition, or state), and those who operate with trust as a verb (the action of making or giving) and a noun (a medium of relationship exchange). Noun people tend to make decisions similar to one of Marissa Mayer's, CEO of Yahoo: She decided to eliminate "elsewhere" work, requiring everyone to work in the office, giving the perception that Yahoo employees can't be trusted. To noun people trust means the "reliance on another party (i.e. person, group, or organization) under a condition of risk." So in times of risk, they use strategies in which control trumps trust.

    Those who get great results in the new workplace operate with trust as a verb. They understand that trust begets trust. Behavioral scientists at the University of Zurich have confirmed experimentally that "if you trust people, you make them more trustworthy." And, conversely, "sanctions designed to deter people from cheating actually make them cheat." Whether people work in the office or somewhere else, there are always a few who will exploit the system, but noun people fail to realize that withholding trust reduces the exact behaviors they want and need.

    Those who build trust-pockets are verb people. As authors Robert Solomon and Fernando Flores crystallize in their book, Building Trust in Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life, "Trust isn't something we have, or a medium or an atmosphere within which we operate. Trust is something we do, something we make." Authentic trust (defined in the Introduction) is essential to trust-pockets. Authentic trust is about the relationship and what it takes to create, build, and maintain mutually beneficial working relationships. Authentic trust isn't a belief about reliability or dependability, nor glue that "makes things possible." Rather, it's an active process of relationship building. People who want to enable engagement, innovation, creativity, and great work give authentic trust.

    The Making of Trust Currency

    You can pay for someone's time at work, and people will show up and do what they need to do. But you can't suction ideas, discretionary efforts, and innovative solutions from their minds. That's where trust currency comes in. It creates the medium of exchange in your trust-pocket.

    As a Trust, Inc. leader you need people's "golden eggs" freely given. Your staff wants things from you too, such as flexibility, meaningful work, personal development, and a culture in which they can show up and do great work. When you make trust currency by giving authentic trust, you render possible what you want and what they want, creating a culture of reciprocity and mutual support. That winning culture is fueled by the exchange of trust, a.k.a. trust currency.

    trust currency \ noun. \ 1. Generated by authentic trust; requires ongoing production. 2. Creates the medium of exchange in workplaces for competitive necessities leaders can't buy with just a paycheck; e.g. intellectual property, discretionary efforts, ideas, innovation, engagement, accountability, commitment. 3. Creates medium of exchange for staff-desired outcomes; e.g. flexibility, creativity, meaningful work, wellbeing, contribution, learning and personal development, self-motivation. 4. Fuels winning cultures; increases reciprocity and mutual support. 5. Provides tangible and intangible results and relationship dividends.

    How to make authentic trust, and its resulting trust currency, is the topic of Chapter 6. But, bottom line — you're the catalyst. As the leader of Trust, Inc., you start the process. Trust starts because you give it. Trust currency is generated as you continue to incrementally give authentic trust, in exchange for things given back to you. It's not a blank check or an on-off switch, but it is created by specific actions, behaviors, and mutual accountability. Think of investing authentic trust in others and getting dividends in return. Here's how it works:



    You Can See Trust

    To start your thinking about behaviors that impact the making of trust currency, consider the 10 behaviors below. Check those that are part of your regular operating style.

    * You influence more by your actions than your words. You operate as the message, not the messenger, with an alignment between your words and actions.

    * You're self-aware. You recognize the impact of your beliefs and actions on others, and are tuned in to others' needs, strengths, and perspectives.

    * You give trust first. You realize trust evolves incrementally over time, and the way to start or rebuild trust is to give it in evolving stages.

    * You use trust-elevating communication techniques. You own your message, actions, and mistakes, and authentically show up in the process.

    * You bring the best of who you are to your work. You operate from a "best of self" core with characteristics like kindness, compassion, love, tolerance, and integrity.

    * You want the best for others. You aren't playing a game in which only one or two people win and the rest don't. You help make the pie bigger for everyone.

    * You tell considered stories. You understand that the stories you tell at work are impactful and you choose stories that positively influence the culture and those in it.

    * You operate with dependable politics. You get things done the right way, with ethics, integrity, and positive intention that builds relationships.

    * You collaborate, cooperate, consider, and contribute. You value relationships and build lasting ones not only by what you do, but also by how you do it.

    * You demonstrate competence as your starting point. You do what you say you can and will do, you do it well, and you assist others along the way.

    Self-scoring: Consider this your Scrooge-equivalent of glimpsing your present. If you checked 8 or more, you can feel confident you're using behaviors that will help you with the creation of trust currency. If 7 or less, you'll find plenty of tips and how-tos in future chapters to increase your probability of producing the trust currency you need.

    The bottom line is this: People don't give their ideas, discretionary efforts, enthusiasm, or best work to people they don't trust. Be the person they give their trust to and you'll harness trust-power in your work group — power to enlist the energy, talents, and gifts of individuals, to build teams, and to achieve amazing results.


    There are two dominant work cultures in organizations: winning cultures and win cultures. Winning cultures operate with trust currency. They're founded on authentic trust, and fueled by five essentials for sparking and building trust (detailed in Part II). Winning cultures are work environments where passionate people share their talents, collaborate on ideas, go above and beyond, assist the greater whole, and do great work. They're high-performing and high-energy cultures, where people are engaged contributors. A winning culture is what Trust, Inc. leaders work to create.

    winning culture \ noun. \ 1. A place, founded on authentic trust, where people can offer the best of who they are. 2. An environment that fosters and enables trusting relationships, collaboration, teamwork, engagement, integrity, ethics, authenticity, innovation, communication, and great work.3. A work climate operating with winning at working approaches, a winning philosophy, and organizational values.

    By contrast, win cultures lack authentic trust or withhold trust. Fueled by top-down, leader-dictated approaches, getting things done can be slowed by bureaucracy, silos, rules, regulations, and dark-side company politics.

    Often highly competitive, with only a few who "win" or hold power, win cultures place premiums on outcome only, sometimes leaving the impression that "how it's done" circumvents common sense or ethics. There's secrecy and closed-door decision-making. Those who work in these cultures find rumors rampant, misinformation common, and trust-based relationships rare.

    There are many misconceptions about work cultures. They're not all-or-none, top-down-only, or static. You can work in a company with an overall "win" culture and still manage and operate your group with a "winning" one (see Chapter 11). It can be a little harder that way; I've been there. But your staff will notice. And what you achieve together will be noticed too, with others wanting to figure out what you're doing differently and to emulate your success. I've seen profound organizational shifts started by trust-pockets persistently delivering exceptional results. It's hard to argue with great results created in the right way. In today's workplace, change doesn't have to start at the top. It can start from anywhere.


    For more than 25 years, the Great Place to Work® Institute has studied winning work cultures and the power of trust. Their findings conclude: "Trust is the single most important ingredient in making a workplace great." If you want to make your work environment great for those you lead, start a trust-pocket. If you want to work in a winning culture yourself, start a trust-pocket. And if you want to achieve great results, start a trust-pocket. Authentic trust doesn't automatically find its way into everyday interactions, or stay like a screensaver in the background until it's needed. It's a decision, an action, a choice about the kind of leader you want to be.

    The following 10 basics are intended as a philosophical framework of what's required to start, grow, and enhance a Trust, Inc. culture. These trust-pocket building blocks are applicable to any leader, at any level, in any role. If you're interested in creating and nurturing a winning culture, consider these the touchstones you'll need along the way. They're the ones to come back to when personal or organizational pressures push you off course.

    1. Step Up

    Stepping up involves an inner rather than outer behavior. Winning cultures founded on trust don't start and evolve by proclamation; they're created by desire, nurtured by authenticity, and evolved by behavioral integrity. Love doesn't thrive merely because you're in a committed relationship; neither does trust. Effectively handling setbacks, enabling ongoing communication, nurturing each others' strengths, dealing with differences, and making a continuous commitment to the relationship allow trust (and love) to flourish.

    The process of stepping up involves self-assessment. First, do you have what it takes to lead a trust-pocket? Second, do you want to? People can learn to lead with trust, nurture a winning culture, and create a Trust, Inc. where people can shine and bring exceptional results. But few do. What about you?

    2. Start With Competence — Yours!

    Knowing you have the ability to deliver what you say, and that you will, is a starting point for trust. If people don't view you as competent, there's no performance trust. Without performance trust, you're unlikely to engage others, build lasting relationships, or demonstrate results. That's key in any winning culture. People trust people who consistently deliver.

    Even if you give authentic trust, for trust currency to be produced and evolve, competence must be present. We all know the person everyone enjoys being around, but when it comes to asking her to be part of a critical project, or trusting her to make it happen — in other words, "choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person's actions," we don't. Competence drives this element of trust.

    3. Build on What's Going Right

    A common trust-building mistake is spending energy to fix what's wrong, or focusing on those who are causing problems. Instead, identify and reinforce what's going right. Put your attention on getting more of the behaviors and actions you desire. Remember, whatever gets rewarded gets done. So, if you find Whitney's "5 Daily Snippets" a quick way to be alerted to issues in her area, tell her, and suggest she broaden distribution. Then encourage others to do something similar.

    When you reinforce what's going well, you get more of it. Focus on the negative, and you often get more of that because attention can be its own reward. Help people see what it looks like to be successful in your work group, and you build trust. Plus, their actions will start aligning with that picture.

    4. Be Bigger Than You

    Trust-pockets don't thrive on supporting a boss's quarterly goals or meeting department or sales objectives. These will happen as byproducts, but aren't what taps people's passions. Are you excited to go to work to help your boss get a bonus, or increase shareholder value? Most people aren't.

    People need a reason that goes beyond tasks — a purpose. Some call it vision or mission. It doesn't matter the label, just be sure it's there. What's the purpose behind your team's tasks? Not the little purpose — the big purpose. Every person in your group needs to know why what they do matters to the whole.

    Let's say your department is responsible for posting and processing patient payments. These are tasks. The tasks' purpose might fund your organization's healthcare professionals to save community lives. Saving lives matters. Help people get beyond their tasks, and they will; help them see their work matters, and it will.


    Excerpted from "Trust, Inc."
    by .
    Copyright © 2014 Nan S. Russell.
    Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

    Table of Contents

    Preface: The Why Behind the Book,
    Introduction: Trust Is a Local Issue,
    PART I: At Trust, Inc., You Don't Need Permission to ...,
    Chapter 1: Create Your Trust-Pocket,
    Chapter 2: Engage the Disengaged,
    Chapter 3: Be a Trusted Boss,
    Chapter 4: Trust Others,
    Chapter 5: Enable Accountability and Innovation,
    PART II: At Trust, Inc., You Spark Trust With Five Essentials,
    Chapter 6: Go First,
    Chapter 7: Elevate Your Communication,
    Chapter 8: Demonstrate Behavioral Integrity,
    Chapter 9: Show Up Authentically,
    Chapter 10: Build Genuine Relationships,
    PART III: Beyond Trust, Inc. — The Challenge of Trust,
    Chapter 11: Stumbling Blocks and Other Realities,
    Chapter 12: The Courage to Trust,
    About the Author,

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