Trust… the accelerator of global economic revival

Trust has been called the glue of healthy societies and the accelerator of economic productivity.

American writer on business management practices Tom Peters once described leadership as a sacred trust. He stated that the decision to lead is the decision to be responsible for the growth and development of your fellow human beings. He also was quoted by saying TRUST, not technology, is the issue of the decade.

The decline of trust must be addressed on multiple levels: by building “trust equity” in governments, in our economic system, and in each other. Building that trust equity requires making our institutions and ourselves worthy of trust.

As a starting point, we must recognize that to establish trust and trusted partnerships we must act with both high integrity and high competence in our personal and work lives.

Corporate leaders today are measured by a new yardstick. The supreme test of a CEO and board of directors is now the value they create not just for shareholders, but for all stakeholders.

To prosper in the age of stakeholder capitalism, companies must actively cultivate the trust of employees, investors, customers, regulators and corporate partners: developing strategies to understand these stakeholders more intimately, implementing deliberate trust-building actions, tracking their efforts over time, and communicating openly and effectively with key stakeholder groups.

Almost everywhere we turn, trust is on the decline. Trust in our culture at large, in our institutions, and in our companies is significantly lower than a generation ago. Research from Datapad when my company International Business and Executive management commissioned the trust report found that only 69% of employees did not trust senior management or their CEO. Consider the loss of trust and confidence in the financial markets today. Indeed, “trust makes the world go-’round,” and right now we’re experiencing a crisis of trust.

In any normality trust is paramount, but with world events never has there been a need for increased trust. My latest book, The Trust Paradigm, discusses why true transformation starts with building credibility at the personal level. The foundation of trust is your own credibility, and it can be a real differentiator for any leader.

A person’s reputation is a direct reflection of their credibility and it precedes them in any interactions or negotiations they might have. When a leader’s credibility and reputation are high, it enables them to establish trust quickly. Speed goes up, the cost goes down.

Moral and ethical leadership is the key to a successful business, yet it’s clear from the news that the leaders of some of our most influential governments and corporations are making morally questionable decisions.

These decisions will lose the trust of society, customers and employees. Trust is the foundation of high-functioning relationships and can only be achieved by meaningful dialogue. It is clear that this is not happening. Instead, we’re using electronic communication, where it should never be used.

Today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing a fellow author, retired Lieutenant Colonel Oakland McCulloch – he is a speaker and the author of the 2021 release, “Your Leadership Legacy: Becoming the Leader You Were Meant to Be.” Based on 40+ years of leadership experience (23 years as a combat arms officer in the United States Army), Oak highlights principles that will benefit today’s leaders and inspire the leaders of tomorrow.


If you want to be a leader, you must establish trust between you and the people you are to lead. Without trust that leader-led, relationship cannot exist. This is true whether you are leading a multi-million dollar company or a startup, a university, a hospital, sports team or anything else – it is universal.

“A team is not a group of people who play together, a team is a group of people who trust each other.”
Vince Lombardi – American Football Coach

When I talk to leaders, I talk about several ways to build that trust between themselves and the people in their organization that they have the privilege to lead.
The three main areas I emphasize to leaders are:
1) getting to know your people;
2) take ownership for everything in your organization;
3) improve communications within the organization.

Getting to Know Your People

Getting to know the people who you lead is vital to building trust between you and them. You must maintain the leader-lead relationship, but that does not mean you have to be standoffish or aloof from the people you are trying to lead. You can get to know the people in your organization and still maintain that proper relationship at the same time.

Getting to know the people you lead, really getting to know them, lets them understand that they are valued members of the team. It lets them see that you actually care about them, and not just as an employee but also as a person.

A good way to get out and see the people you are leading is to lead by walking around, not from behind your desk. In this way, you get out to where the people you are leading are actually working. You get to see what is going on in their area and get to interact with the people in their workspace – NOT IN YOUR OFFICE.

I make it a point when I am leading an organization, to find out one new thing about one of the people I lead every day. I make sure it is not something about the office or work, but something personal. Learn their spouse’s name, their children’s name, sports their children play, their hobbies, etc. While you are engaging with this person, be completely engaged with them. Make your conversation with them the most important thing going on at that point – do not allow yourself to become distracted.

Another good way to get out of your office and engage with the people you lead comes from something a mentor of mine, a retired Lieutenant General, once told me.

He said, “Oak, never turn down a chance to get your own cup of coffee. You, as a leader, do two things when you go get your own cup of coffee. First, you show people you do not feel above them. You are just like everyone else who wants a cup of coffee and can get it yourself – you do not need someone to wait on you. Second, it gets you out from behind your desk in your office and out among the people you are leading. Take advantage of your walk from your office to the coffee pot and back to stop and talk to people along the way. If you are lucky, you will have two or three different ways to get from your office to the coffee pot so you can talk to different people each time.”

Take Ownership for Everything in Your Organization

If you, as a leader, want the people in your organization to trust you, then you MUST take ownership of everything in your organization – GOOD and BAD. As the leader, you must give credit where credit is due for success and you must take responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

The advice I give leaders is this. When your organization accomplishes what they are supposed to then give all the credit to the people in the organization – and do that in public! If there were specific people who did a great job, then make sure to mention them by name. If your organization does not accomplish its assigned task, also in public, you take the blame – YOU, not anyone else.

Even if what went wrong was a direct result of something you did or a decision you personally made, you are still responsible. You are responsible for everything that does or does not happen in your organization – YOUR NAME, AND YOUR NAME ALONE, IS ON THE BLAME LINE!

I have always lived by, and hold the people I lead to that same standard; it does not matter if you made a mistake. What I care about is what you did when you made the mistake. Did you blame someone else, did you try to cover it up or did you come to me and say “boss I messed up, and here is how we are going to fix it.” I will tell you then let’s go fix it.

I had a boss, who eventually retired as a four-star general, who told me one day, “Oak, if you did not make a mistake today, then you probably did not do anything.” No one is perfect; we are all going to make mistakes. What you do after you make the mistake is what matters.

If you own everything as a leader and hold people (including yourself) accountable for actions and decisions in your organization then you start to build trust with the people you are leading. They realize that even if they make a mistake, as long as they own up to the mistake, then things will be fine. This is how you build trust with your people.

Communication Must Be a Two Way Street

The third way to help build trust between yourself, the leader, and the people you lead is through strong communication. That communication must be purposeful and two-way communication.

You as the leader need to make sure that all your communications, inside and outside the organization, begin with “We” not “I”. All messages from you, the leader, must emphasize that we are a team and everyone on that team is important. There is no “I” in “Team”!

People in your organization must feel comfortable communicating with you, the leader, about things good and bad. They must feel comfortable telling you the truth, about themselves, the organization, and YOU!

If you ever once “shoot” the messenger when they deliver bad news then you have guaranteed no one will ever deliver bad news to you again. You must encourage people in your organization to communicate anything & everything to you.

If you are a leader and you believe communication is your telling people things, but not listening to what your people have to say then you are not a leader. In that case, you are a boss at best and I promise no one in your organization will trust you.

Thank you Oak, this was very enlightening, and I know you are passionate about the subject of leadership!

I would like to add that it has always been my belief as a leader that to promote integrity and consequently increase trust, leaders should enhance transparency within the organization. This is primarily achieved by effectively communicating clear goals and a vision.

Transparency is valued by team members, as it gives them clarity on topics that matter to them and it clearly states a promise to deliver on them (this includes company purpose and vision). Leadership is not about control, based on trust starts from the assumption that your team members are competent and well-intentioned.

Building trust within organizations is not only key to withstanding current challenges but will pay off in the future. To inspire decision-makers to lead with the next generation in mind, leaders have more work to do to leverage the power of trust in their organizations, and the disruptions open up the opportunity for new paradigms.

To support decision-makers in deliberately strengthening relationships of trust within organizations, and to lead with the next generation in mind, our company IBEM has synthesised a comprehensive trust model. It provides a holistic view of trust-building measures along three guiding principles:

First, transparency is key. Trust increases if the organization’s goals are aligned with a coherent overall strategy and leaders communicate authentically in an honest, realistic, and targeted manner.

Second, enablement of the organization with the least surveillance and control mechanisms creates ownership and fosters positive behaviors.

Trust is the glue

We advise employing simple, well-reasoned principles instead of complex and rigid rules to encourage an output-oriented mindset and to consider individuals’ specific situations and needs.

Third, leaders should promote a culture of trust. Reciprocal trust flourishes when leaders embrace their own vulnerability, trust their team members by default and orchestrate informal relations of trust.

The main priority is not control, but how to enable your team members to take decisions independently and use their competence and motivation in the best possible way.

In addition to the measures that can be taken to promote integrity and leverage competence, trust is a key component of organizational culture.

Mutual care among team members, emotional bonds, and benevolence thrive in a culture of mutual trust. For leaders, this boils down to embracing vulnerability to promote openness, giving people an advance in terms of trust, and supporting trusting relationships that exist beyond reporting lines.

When achieving this state of mutual trust in the organizations, open and constructive challenges for the benefit of each individual and the organization will become the norm.
Embrace your own vulnerability as a leader and encourage openness. Leaders are perceived as role models. This doesn’t mean that they need to be perfect.

To the contrary: Showing one’s own vulnerability as a leader by admitting doubt and mistakes, promotes an open work environment. Mistakes and concerns are not covered up, with potentially harmful consequences for the organization – but voiced and discussed early on.

Trust is reciprocal, and how much you trust someone influences how much they trust you. Considering the capabilities, experience, and knowledge present in an organization, you are well advised to give your team members the benefit of the doubt. This creates a win-win situation: Teams feel empowered, and the organization saves resources on monitoring and control.

Try to thoroughly assess someone’s trustworthiness and alignment with the organization’s values right at the beginning of their affiliation with the organization.

Many world events and their consequences for organizations around the world have re-emphasised the imperative of nurturing trust within organizations. Leaders ought to seize the window of opportunity to double down on building and maintaining trust.

Most importantly, organizations that get trust right will gain a competitive edge in the ongoing war for talent.

Final thought, no heroic leader can resolve the complex challenges we face today. To address the important issues of our time we need a fundamental change of perspective. We need to start questioning many of our taken-for-granted assumptions about our business and social environments.

Leaders serve as role models for their followers and demonstrate the behavioral boundaries set within an organization. The appropriate and desired behavior is enhanced through the culture and socialization process of the newcomers.

Employees learn about values from watching leaders in action.
The more the leader “walks the talk”, by translating internalized values into action, the higher level of trust and respect he generates from followers.

To help bridge the trust gap we recognise that organizations need to work with each other and with wider society to identify practicable, actionable steps that businesses can take to shape a new relationship with wider society: a new ‘settlement’ based on mutual understanding and a shared recognition of the positive role that business plays in people’s lives.

To create such a settlement, businesses need to see themselves as part of a diverse, interconnected, and interdependent ecosystem – one that involves government, regulators, individual citizens, and more. Trust within and across this ecosystem is key to its long-term sustainability and survival. That’s why trust needs to be restored to the heart of the business world.

As Stephen M.R. Covey once said:

“Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create.”

This article is the expressed opinions and collaboration between two senior-level industry board professionals on their views and perceptions on the subject matter:

Oakland McCulloch was born in Loudon, Tennessee, and raised in Kirkland, Illinois. After graduating from high school, he attend the United States Military Academy at West Point for two years. He then graduated from Northern Illinois University and received his commission as an Infantry Officer through the Reserve Officer Training Course in 1986.

In his 23-year career in the Army Oak McCulloch held numerous leadership positions in the Infantry and Armor branches. He assisted in disaster relief operations for Hurricane HUGO in Charleston, South Carolina, and Hurricane ANDREW in south Florida. His operational deployments include Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as a General’s Aide-de-Camp, the Congressional Liaison Officer in support of operations in Bosnia, and the Operations Officer during a Peace Keeping deployment to Kosovo. He held instructor positions at the US Army Ordnance School, the US Army Command and General Staff College, the Australian Command and Staff College, the University of South Alabama, and Stetson University. His last position in the Army was a three-year tour as the Professor of Military Science at the University of South Alabama where he led the training and commissioning of Lieutenants and tripled the size of the program in his three-year tour.

LTC McCulloch retired from the Army in September 2009 with over 23 years of active service and joined the staff at the Bay Area Food Bank as the Associate Director. He was also the Vice Chair for Military Affairs at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Mobile Rotary International Club. LTC McCulloch left the food bank in December 2010 to become the Senior Military Science Instructor and recruiter for the Army ROTC program at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. In his 9 years at Stetson, the program grew from 15 Cadets to over 100 Cadets. In October 2013, he became the Recruiting Operations Officer for the Eagle Battalion Army ROTC program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he has more than doubled the size of the program in 6 years. Cadet Command selected LTC McCulloch as the top recruiting officer, out of 274 recruiters, for 2019. LTC Oak McCulloch published his first book in February 2021 – “Your Leadership Legacy: Becoming the Leader You Were Meant to Be”.

LTC McCulloch earned a Bachelor of Science degree in History from Northern Illinois University in 1987 and a Master of Military Arts and Science in History from the United States Army Command and General Staff College in 2002. He received thirty-one military service awards including the Bronze Star, eight Meritorious Service Medals, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

LTC Oak McCulloch is married to the former Kelly Smyth of Wauconda, Illinois. They were married at Fort Sheridan, Illinois in 1987 and they have two children, Oakland Vincent McCulloch and Caileigh Nicholson. They also have a granddaughter, Ryleigh Jade Nicholson, and two grandsons Christopher Bryce Nicholson and Oakland Maverick McCulloch.

LinkedIn: profile

Geoff Hudson-Searle is an independent non-executive director across regulation, technology and internet security, a C-Suite executive on private and listed companies, and a serial business advisor for growth-phase tech companies.

With more than 30 years of experience in international business and management. He is the author of six books and lectures at business forums, conferences, and universities. He has been the focus of TEDx and RT Europe’s business documentaries across various thought leadership topics and his authorisms.

Geoff is a member and fellow of the Institute of Directors; an associate of The International Business Institute of Management; a co-founder and board member of the Neustar International Security Council (NISC); and a distinguished member of the Advisory Council for The Global Cyber Academy.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration. Rated by Agilence as a Top 250 Harvard Business School thought leader authority covering blogs and writing across; ‘Strategic Management’ and ‘Management Consulting’, Geoff has worked on strategic growth, strategy, operations, finance, international development, growth, and scale-up advisory programmes for the British Government, Citibank, Kaspersky, BT and Barclays among others.

The trust Paradigm
At Amazon: buy now

LinkedIn: profile

The Changing Landscape of Leadership: leaders needs to lead with trust

As leaders, our ability to deal with global disruption whether it impacts our organization’s supply chain, sales and distribution capability or cash flow is regularly being tested.

Whether we’re talking about disease outbreaks or financial crises, events beyond any individual or organization’s control can force us to sharpen our ability to lead in unpredictable times.

As global disruption ebbs and flows, what role should leaders play, and what strategies can you deploy to get ahead of this unpredictable curve?

Earlier this year, Odgers Berndtson released its Leadership Confidence Index 2022. It found confidence in leadership had almost doubled in the past two years, jumping from 24% in 2020 to 42% in 2022.

It is a striking statistic, and from it, one thing can be deducted with certainty; around the world, more leaders than expected are performing better than they were before the pandemic. Yet the statistic tells another tale. More than half of leaders did not perform well and lost the confidence of their teams and organizations. These juxtaposing circumstances reveal much about the global state of leadership performance and leadership acquisition today.

How we arrived at these circumstances is clear. COVID-19 resulted in a crisis where business as usual no longer existed.

In the newly created environment, many leaders rose to the challenge, adapted to the new state of play, and realigned their organizations with skill and purpose.

Ultimately, the pandemic provided an environment in which the best leaders could show ‘what they were made of’ and their capabilities shone through. If there was a single sentence summing up these types of individuals, it would be: “leaders who people will follow, not because they have to but because they want to.”

Yet 58% of leaders did not fall into this category. Unable or unwilling to adapt they stuck rigidly to the playbook of the past, applying outdated skills to a novel situation. Often, these were leaders more at home talking to their boards about share price and public opinion than having an honest conversation with those they led. Their capabilities centred around achieving market share and growth as opposed to managing disruption, or more importantly, inspiring teams to deliver results during disruption.

Many didn’t know what hit them, and were unable to swim in the current of the new world, and have or are currently being replaced. It has resulted in a new cohort of leaders worldwide.

This new breed of leader is organizationally facing. They understand that the board and their people are of equal importance. Their decision-making is often inclusive, they place trust in their senior executives and genuinely care about those they lead – not because it’s in vogue but because they genuinely value them.

These leaders often have a different thought process from their predecessors.

Their skills lie in reading market signals and adapting to them swiftly. They are strategists and change agents who can ‘see around corners’. They can extrapolate from major trends and take advantage of the findings, turning change into opportunity, and importantly inspiring others to deliver on that change. Behaviourally, they are more akin to an entrepreneur than a traditional manager; innovative, brave, humble, and naturally inquisitive with a desire to learn. Above all else, they embrace and even thrive on disruption.

Such a dramatic change to the leadership paradigm has dramatic consequences. Globally, the number of leadership searches has increased exponentially. Across APAC the search industry has seen 43% growth, while the reshuffle of executives in South America has resulted in double the normal number of searches we would make for general managers in Chile, Peru, and Argentina. In the UK, and across the U.S., the story is the same – explosive demand for new leadership talent.

Much of this demand can be laid at the feet of the pandemic. 58% of leaders were not up to the challenge and therefore need replacing. But another, more significant factor is also at play here; the expectation of the disruption to come. Our own Index reveals the majority of executives (79%) believe the level of future disruption will either increase or maintain at the same pace.

And we know that the majority of boards feel the same way and want to future-proof their organizations against this disruption with the sort of leader who can manage and take advantage of it.

But the supply is scarce, and on top of this, regional conditions have upended the leadership acquisition market. Across counties in APAC, zero-tolerance lockdowns and stringent work permits have resulted in an exodus of strong talent. Combined with a limited local supply and deglobalization shifting the traditional leadership footprint to other countries in the region, the pool of high-performing leaders is now almost completely different.

In South America, tourism has been in freefall, the cost of many raw materials has exploded, and crop yields are expected to be lower while the price of fertilizer has shot up. Political instability and a withdrawal of significant investment have added to the disruption. Even countries like Chile that have become accustomed to relative stability now face uncertainty. For leaders, the economic environment has been rewritten. Many are retiring and more are being replaced.

In the U.S. and the UK, technology transformation much like it is elsewhere in the world is no longer just a sector but a function of every industry. It’s challenging everything from business models and back-office operations to the very products and services a company sells. For years, the notion that leaders should be tech-savvy has been gaining momentum. Now it’s an absolute necessity, with a core skill being the ability to know which technologies to invest in, and which ones not to.

And across every industry and country, supply chain chaos, rising inflation, and the ESG and diversity agendas are near-universal challenges that are a leader’s responsibility to resolve.

The current climate has become a catalyst for exponential demand and short supply. What makes a high-performing leader is very different from what it was before the pandemic. At the same time, the business environment has altered who those leaders are, where they come from, and the types of skillsets they have. On the one side boards expect more of their leaders and on the other, there is a shortage of leaders who can genuinely deliver on these new expectations.

Yet they are out there. To find them, it will often require an organization to ‘go outside their lane’ and look for leaders in adjacent or even completely different industries.

It will mean genuinely leaning into diversity and inclusion and searching for leaders who are nothing like what has come before.

And it will mean enabling individuals from the second layer of senior management and helping them to step up. Above all, it means disregarding the traditional blueprint of what a leader should be and embracing the new leadership paradigm.

As a comparison, The Harvard Business Review recently released a study that examined how 1,890 senior executives around the world view their organization’s ability to manage disruption. The results were quite staggering: Only 15% of respondents expressed a reasonably high level of confidence that their leadership team is “fit to lead through future disruption,” while 61% reported being “tentative” and 24% are outright “worried.” The two top reasons given by executives who worry the most were lack of vision/buy-in and resistance to change inside their organizations.

The Conference Board, a global business membership and research association, noted similar findings in its C-Suite Challenge 2020 report: “CEOs’ internal concerns include talent and skills shortages, disruptive technologies, and building an innovative culture.”

Trust in our culture at large, in our institutions and in our companies is significantly lower than a generation ago.

In any normality trust is paramount, but given current world events, never has there been more need for increased trust, a shared understanding and language to talk about the specific behaviours that affect trust can result in more productive conversations about team performance. Those conversations can even create stronger bonds between leaders and employees.

But leadership trust isn’t a one-off initiative. It requires continued effort from all team members. And it takes leaders who are willing to show integrity, change behaviour, and take on the hard work of collaborating across boundaries and dealing with differences.

Research shows that trust represents a core human need we all have: to trust others, to be trusted in return, and to trust in ourselves. When trust is present, people align around the purpose of their team, embrace goals and objectives, willingly collaborate, and are empowered to do their best work.

When trust is absent, or made vulnerably, work becomes more difficult and takes longer to execute. With the pace of change in today’s organizations, leaders need trust more than ever before.

Trust means ‘uncompromised by doubt’. In the workplace, people can’t do their best work if they doubt others’ intentions or capabilities, the direction or viability of the organization, or, most importantly, if they doubt their own ability to keep up with the demands placed on them. This is especially true in today’s environment of complex change and ambiguity when employees are being asked to do more with less.

Leadership trust is reciprocal and created incrementally. To inspire trust from others, leaders need to also show trust in them. Over time these relationships build and maintain the trust that teams and organizations need to take action in a fast-paced world.

Our research underscores the need for trust in organizations. In high-trust environments, people show up and to do their best work. They gain productive energy, creativity, speed, and better results. They align around a common purpose, take risks, support each other, and communicate openly and honestly.

Effective leadership requires knowing how to build and keep trust, whether it’s with individuals, on teams, or across the organization.

Finally, there’s no question that disruption will continue to define the course of business and organizations. The challenge for you as a leader is to develop the mindset and organizational culture that will turn the forces of disruption into a catalyst for strategic thinking and creative execution. The term ‘trust’ has been overused forever and, during the last decade, considerably devalued. In The Trust Paradigm book, the authors aim to take the concept back to its essentials and to re-evaluate how real, meaningful trust can be incorporated into management and leadership.

A great quote by American Academic – Clayton M. Christensen:

“We have found that companies need to speak a common language because some of the suggested ways to harness disruptive innovation are seemingly counterintuitive. If companies don’t have that common language, it is hard for them to come to consensus on a counterintuitive course of action.”

Speaking truth to leadership power: why toxic environments do not work, trust and a strong company culture drives business performance and growth

There is much debate and discussion about leadership styles, in particular, the styles recognized as the most important factor in determining workforce productivity and in establishing an organizational environment.

At IBEM we believe if people understand the bounds of their position they have full authority to make decisions within those guidelines. The wider those guidelines, the more accountability an employee has earned to make decisions and take action in the company’s best interests.

We believe in the power of leadership to make things happen. That power should be in the hands of everyone, not the few.

Leadership is a competency and a skill set rather than an inherited set of traits that high-performing organisations recognise and prepare their organisation accordingly. Organisations that have high levels of employee engagement enjoy high performance on every key performance indicator from employee turnover to return on investment and shareholder return. Creating an engaged environment is a culture, not a program and must be approached systemically not tactically.

In organisations that means building a common language of leadership at all levels to have an immediate and lasting impact on business results, not just knowledge, wisdom or behaviours.

Researchers have observed a significant shift in the approach organizational leaders need to take to communicate with their teams.

The would-be analyst of leadership usually studies popularity, power, showmanship or wisdom in long-range planning. But none of these qualities is the essence of leadership. Leadership is the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants a human and social achievement that stems from the leader’s understanding of his or her fellow workers and the relationship of their individual goals to the group’s aim.

To be successful, leaders must learn two basic lessons: People are complex, and people are different. Human beings respond not only to the traditional carrot and stick but also to ambition, patriotism, love of the good and the beautiful, boredom, self-doubt, and many other desires and emotions. One person may find satisfaction in solving intellectual problems but may never be given the opportunity to explore how that satisfaction can be applied to business. Another may need a friendly, admiring relationship and may be constantly frustrated by the failure of his superior to recognize and take advantage of that need.

Exercising power and being a leader is not about winning a popularity contest. A lot of leaders are generally and not necessarily nice people.

For decades, many businesses adhered to a rigid leadership style, one that was hierarchical, where managers gave orders, enforced inflexible policies, and didn’t welcome input from employees.

This type of command and control leadership took hold in the 1950s and ’60s, started by people who returned from World War II and stepped into business leadership.

“Command-and-control” is the phrase informally used to describe the status quo style of leadership that exists within modern organisations: organisations generally characterise command-and-control by the following:
• Centralised decision making
• Have a pyramid-like organisational structure, but they may also be flat (command-and-control is more a culture than a structure)
• Increasingly privatise information the higher you go
• Allow more autonomy the higher you go
• Take a top-down approach to virtually everything, especially strategic thinking
• Create a strong distinction between (senior) management and workers
• Increase salary, perks, and flexibility with seniority
• Have specialised internal departments such as Human Resources
• Standardise and coordinate the monitoring, measuring and motivating of employees
• Do not let anyone other than senior management set the rules
• See employees working to please their boss as a priority
• Do not have a culture that allows room for failure
• Police its employees’ movements

Leadership is not about control

However, this style of leadership is a relic of a bygone era of business and is no longer even used to the same extent by the military. Employees no longer want to work at organizations where they simply must do as they’re told, have no input on their role or the direction of the company, and must follow orders because they came from a superior.

Do you believe that being in charge means you are in control?

If you find yourself frustrated about losing power in situations, it’s because leadership is not about taking control; it’s about influence.

The best leaders know that their role is not to dictate, but to inspire and motivate others to act. When you surrender control, you invite people to discover their potential. You create a culture where your team looks to go above and beyond, not just do the minimum to meet your demand. You will draw out a culture of communication that fosters and encourages innovation.

However, if you fear that creativity and collaboration are a recipe for chaos, then you need to revisit why you chose to become a leader in the first place. Real leaders don’t take on leadership roles to be in control of people or command them; the best leaders know that leadership is a privilege. The most influential leaders in history didn’t achieve greatness with whips and force. The masses followed them because of their enormous influence.

Command and control may have worked in the past, but it’s on its way out and companies that don’t adjust quickly may find it very hard to recruit and retain talent. Not only does it damage employee morale, it also leads to inferior results. Here’s why:

Employee mobility.

Command and control leadership was often used extensively in companies where employees expected to spend their entire careers and be rewarded with a pension. Before the internet, employees didn’t have as many options to change jobs, and leaving a company in search of greener pastures was less common, as employees valued stability and tenure over flexibility.

This is not true anymore – workers are more comfortable exiting jobs, and more than half of employees are actively looking for a new job. Many workers are happy to join the gig economy and be their own boss. In response, innovative leaders have succeeded by changing their strategies to keep employees happy and willing to stay.

Today’s workers don’t need to tolerate command and control leadership. Employees who feel micromanaged or strictly scrutinized by their managers feel comfortable jumping ship and finding a new job where they have more autonomy, respect, and a sense of purpose and ownership.

Businesses must be integrated and innovative.

With the exception of very large industries such as aerospace and government contracting, it’s very hard to maintain a competitive advantage these days without being able to constantly adapt.

Command and control don’t just make employees unhappy- it also can hurt your team’s decision-making. The best leaders solicit multiple perspectives and know that differing opinions can improve a team’s ideas over time. Leaders who suppress dissenting voices often keep valuable ideas from surfacing.

Most leadership experts agree that allowing dissent and productive conflict is vital to decision-making. Legendary CEO and leadership expert Ray Dalio said, “The greatest tragedy of mankind comes from the inability of people to have thoughtful disagreement to find out what’s true.”

Command and control leadership’s greatest failure comes from exactly what Dalio critiques. Leaders who insist their teams follow their decisions without question are shutting off constructive feedback that could reshape an idea, pre-empt a poor decision, or even change an entire company for the better.

Employees should be empowered to make decisions.

Command and control leadership is by design inflexible. While that ensures all members of a team are dedicated to the same goal, it also limits employee autonomy. If employees have to get permission for every decision they make, decision-making will grind to a halt.

The fast pace of the modern business world requires employees to adjust course constantly to meet changing demands. The best businesses empower their employees to trust their own judgment, guided by their core values to make decisions independently based on the best information they have at the time.

Even the military, the foundation of modern command and control leadership, has recognized this – in an interview, American general Stanley McChrystal said he told his troops, “If and when we get on the ground the order we gave you is wrong, execute the order we should’ve given you.”

McChrystal, a decorated general, certainly was not encouraging insubordination or disrespect of superiors. But he recognized that it’s impossible for leaders to be correct in every case, and the best organizations empower employees to make judgment calls when it seems their instructions don’t fit the situation.

Command and control leadership doesn’t allow this flexibility – it requires adherence to rigid orders, and that can lead to massive mistakes.

We’re way past the time when leaders succeed by commanding their teams to follow their instructions and never deviate. Employees want to be respected at work, have the autonomy to make their own decisions, and work in an environment of psychological safety, where they can be candid with their managers. The companies where leaders foster that type of environment are winning the talent war.

A more flexible style of leadership is better for everyone in the long run. Engaged and dedicated employees are critical to exponential growth, and command and control leadership will only push away top talent. It’s time to adapt.

Toxic workplace cultures are everywhere in America. With one in five Americans having left a job in the past five years due to unhealthy work culture, and with 49% of employees having thought about leaving their current organization, it all adds up to a poisonous churn, according to a new report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) examining workplace culture and how it impacted the cost of doing business.

Toxic workplace culture costs businesses billions in employee turnover: $223 billion over the last five years. Some of those turnover costs can be broken down into employee overtime to fill in the gaps, costs for temporary employees, recruiting costs, hiring manager time, recruiter time, and advertising costs.

What does a toxic workplace culture look like? There are overt signs like discrimination by sex and by age, but the most common sign is a breakdown in communication.

Manager nightmare

Trust in leadership is at an all-time low, according to research by multiple sources. Yet, employees attribute them with a high amount of power. The vast majority – 76% – say that their leaders set the culture of their workplace.

Still, over a third (36%) of workers say their CEO and line manager doesn’t know how to lead a team

Leaders are the reason 60% of employees want to leave their organization.

Four in 10 workers say their management do not frequently engage them in honest conversations about work matters.

This divide to a lack of proper training and the inability of some leaders to bridge the gap between their previous role as an individual contributor and their current role as manager.

More importantly, many managers haven’t been trained to work with people.

About two-thirds of working Americans say they have worked in a toxic workplace, with 26% reporting they have worked in more than one. It’s an environment that seemingly drags a significant portion of a workplace’s workers down:

– A quarter dread going to work

– A quarter don’t feel safe or secure voicing their opinions on work-related matters

– A quarter don’t feel respected or valued on the job

This environment bleeds into their home life: nearly a third of Americans say their toxic workplace makes them feel stressed and irritable at home.

In fact, they’re so stressed about their work-life that many would rather play hooky: one in five calls in sick when they just can’t face work that day.

Of course, unhappy workers feigning sick costs money: at companies in the U.S., the cost of productivity loss due to unplanned absences costs approximately $431 billion per year. And up to $86 billion of this lost productivity can be attributed to employees calling in sick when they don’t feel like going to work.

How to build a strong workplace culture?

Organizations must define their purpose. As well as figure out what’s acceptable and unacceptable within their organization. I think organizations can have much clearer conversations about what they believe in. What is their purpose? And what are the behaviours and the principles that they hold absolutely dear as fundamental to the organization? And also create examples of, ‘here’s what we don’t value in the workplace and won’t accept’.

The organization’s leadership is responsible for building good workplace culture.

Culture is the environment that surrounds us all the time. A workplace culture is the shared values, belief systems, attitudes and the set of assumptions that people in a workplace share. This is shaped by individual upbringing, social and cultural context.

In a workplace, however, the leadership and the strategic organizational directions and management influence the workplace culture to a huge extent. A positive workplace culture improves teamwork, raises the morale, increases productivity and efficiency, and enhances retention of the workforce. Job satisfaction, collaboration, and work performance are all enhanced. And, most importantly, a positive workplace environment reduces stress in employees.

Research by Deloitte has shown that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. Deloitte’s survey also found that 76% of these employees believed that a “clearly defined business strategy” helped create a positive culture.

A positive culture in the workplace is essential for fostering a sense of pride and ownership amongst the employees. When people take pride, they invest their future in the organization and work hard to create opportunities that will benefit the organization.

By identifying and rewarding those who are actively striving towards creating a positive work culture, and supporting others around them, companies can encourage others to do the same. Positive attitudes and behaviour in the workplace are the direct results of effective leadership and a positive management style.

Trust is at the foundation of healthy relationships. At its core, trust is the willingness of one party to be vulnerable to the actions of another. It is an expectation that two parties will act in a way that is mutually beneficial. For these reasons, trust is a key element of effective communication, teamwork, employee commitment and productivity. It leads to stronger working relationships and a healthier organizational culture.

Because of the inherent vulnerability involved in trusting relationships, it is widely understood that trust must be earned. This is true whether it is between two colleagues, a manager and employee, or even between an employee and the organization at large. In some instances, it can be hard to build and sustain because individuals may not be aware of the unintentional ways that they have broken trust with their colleagues.

Trust helps to make challenging conversations easier – this has been written in my new book “The Trust Paradigm”, teams more integrated and employees more engaged. Exploring ways in which trust can be built can help individuals and companies create stronger relationships and healthier cultures.

Final thought, placing people at the centre of your corporate culture effort will enable positive shift and unlock long-term value for the organization. Culture work typically follows a major company event commonly a shift in strategy, a new CEO, a merger or acquisition, digital or functional transformation, regulatory changes, increasing calls for inclusivity, or unethical behaviour events.

On the flip sid,e companies sometimes are forced to deal with narcissistic leaders whose behaviour can be relentless and ruthless. So is their legacy: it creates lasting organizational damage.

People embrace low integrity and individualism when both leaders and the company culture support those behaviours. Aligning culture across every level of the organization so that it enables your strategy is essential to moving with agility in a time of unprecedented change. As external pressure mounts, leaders should take action to create a blueprint for purpose and culture that delivers short- and long-term value for employees, customers and investors. Culture isn’t the soft stuff, it’s the real, human stuff. And it’s time we got that right for each other.

William Courtney Hamilton Prentice was formerly the president of Bryant and Stratton Business Institutes in Buffalo, New York, the president of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and the dean of Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, who once said:

“Effective leaders take a personal interest in the long-term development of their employees, and they use tact and other social skills to encourage employees to achieve their best. It isn’t about being “nice” or “understanding” — it’s about tapping into individual motivations in the interest of furthering an organization wide goal.”

A disruptive world, trust, and can we learn from native American wisdom?

The world is facing significant disruption and increasingly urgent global challenges affecting individuals, families, organizations, governments, and society.

This VUCA-driven (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) age of disruption brings new complexities, opportunities, as well as risks for businesses. The potential for crises has intensified, driven by rapid technological change due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) and amplified by societal expectations linked to environmental, social and governance (ESG) phenomena.

Throughout the COVID-19 response, we’ve seen an acceleration of these trends. We have seen how some businesses have been successful in looking beyond the pandemic and into recovery, while others have failed and many perished, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

As the world becomes more complex and connected, the threat of a corporate crisis grows.

Disruptive events, including crises such as pandemics, have no borders or boundaries. They can happen anytime, anywhere, and to any organization. The interconnectedness of the global economy and its political realities can magnify the ripple effect of any single crisis, making it a common feature of corporate life.

The new business reality is that there will be several challenges concerning the new world of work that organizations are expected to face as we enter the ‘new normal’ or ‘next normal’ era of the endemic phase of COVID-19. Just as organizations across the globe went fully remote at the start of the pandemic, many organizations now need to build a successful hybrid work model—or risk losing their employees.

A functioning society is built on trust. Whether we’re drinking water from a faucet, riding an elevator or sending an e-mail, we’re trusting that somebody, somewhere, has taken the necessary steps to make sure that activity is safe.

Yet today, our shared foundation of trust is under strain as never before. Rapid social and economic change, deepening political divisions, and the disruptive impact of new technologies are stretching the limits of traditional systems of trust-building. Governments, businesses and civil society are struggling to keep up.

Our changing digital age has made it harder and harder to know just whom to trust. Is the person or company you’re dealing with real or just an online facade? Is the video you’re looking at genuine or a deepfake? Where exactly does your data go when you share it? There’s no way to fact-check everything, creating anxiety. If people can only trust what they’ve seen and touched, or people they’ve met personally, society can’t function. The system is under strain and we can no longer take trust and trust-building for granted.

Trust is both a glue and a lubricant, holding society together and allowing its many parts to move smoothly. If trust can’t be made suitable for the digital age, the digital age won’t function.

Such mindset shifts will not happen just once – they will evolve with society’s needs. That is at the heart of the trust and governance project: constantly finding new ways to maximize the reach and power of trust across different stakeholders.

It’s an effort that has to be horizontal and cross-sectoral. In a new age, there is no single guarantor of trust. It’s a responsibility all stakeholders must share and prioritize.

There are wonderful opportunities to learn from other cultures how to manage our emotional turmoil and stop the self-blame and the wild goose chase. When we look at other cultures through a wide lens, it empowers us with new insights and strategies that have enabled others to remain resilient and satisfied.

Native Americans, for example, have lived in synchrony with the human and natural world. Their experiences help teach how to find strength, peace and emotional wellness.

They have encountered vast and devastating experiential upheavals in the confrontation with Western values and practices. Yet, many have sustainable belief systems and cultural traditions that have been passed down through generations and serve as models that we can consider in order to improve our own well-being.

The overarching descriptive word for the American Indian worldview is holistic. They view the natural world, the spirit world and human beings as an integrated whole and they cherish balance and harmony in the collective universe.

Some of the richest stories we are not taught in our educational system are those of Native Americans. I recently read a great book by DJ Vanas called ‘The Warrior Within’ – the book discusses your own your power to serve, fight, protect and heal, providing a compass to live an extraordinary life (I have always said we are extraordinary, the question is how we use extraordinary in our everyday lives).

In native American culture, a warrior may surrender, but he never gives up.

June 25, 1876: General Custer during the Battle of Little Big Horn between the US Army and the Sioux Indians, commanded by Chief Crazy Horse. Custer had underestimated the size of the camp and his entire column was killed.

During a raging blizzard in early January 1877 along the Tong River in Montana, General Miles and his troops opened fire on Crazy Horse and his camp. He was able to return fire, but they eventually held off the soldiers firing ammunition with bows and arrows. Although he succeeded in retreating 1,100 Indians to Fort Robinson, he never gave up or lacked effort – but eventually surrendered because his tribe was cold and hungry – and it was the best option to avoid all being pursued .

Tecumseh, the great Shawnee chief and warrior said: “When you get up in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of life.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies with you.” In this moral, Tecumseh speaks to our ability to see the prize first.

The Ottawa tribe used birch bark for dwellings and canoes which made them successful in trade and warfare. The Lakota used every part of the buffalo to make everything from clothing to bowstrings and chairs. Oftentimes, when we have limitations, it forces us to be resourceful. When we get past our fear, resistance, and confusion, we realize that we are all surrounded by an embarrassment of riches.

In Native American culture, the medicine bag is filled with sacred, meaningful objects, such as herbs, tobacco and cedar, beads, bones, arrowheads, stones, and animal claws or teeth—that hold the power of protection, strength, luck, or healing for the person who wears it. People often wore them around their necks and they became significant during ceremonies, battles or illnesses.

It helps you visualize how the Indians carry their own medicine bag of things and experiences that make you unique and strong in your own way.

In the early 1800s, Sequoyah of the Cherokee Nation had a vision of his people reading and writing — or what he would call “talking leaves.” They didn’t have a system back then and people thought he was crazy to invest all this time to develop it. So much so that his wife threw his project into the fire. He was undeterred, and by the 1830s he had developed a writing system that helped his tribe become one of the most literate groups in the Americas.

The plains tribes had a tradition of fighting that was more honorable than killing an enemy on the battlefield. It was called a “census coup”. Instead of striking their enemy with an arrow, they would simply touch him with a coup staff, a decorated staff resembling a horse, while in the heat of battle. That act of courage to stand face to face with the enemy and essentially say, “I’m not afraid of you.” is the ultimate act of bravery.

One of the best lessons from the book was the one about keeping fire in Native American culture, which was clearly a sacred duty. A good fire was the heart of a village. It provides an opportunity to cook food, shine a light in the dark, warm the village and provide a place for people to gather. Most importantly, it was a crucial component of the ceremonies. Just like the keeper of the fire – we must maintain our own physical and mental well-being so that our fire does not burn to embers or even burn out.

Most people who do not speak up in public meetings have perfectly functioning voices, and training them on better enunciation will not help matters much. Many technology projects have been hampered by inadequate theorizing, by political economy and social movement analysis, and by the lack of reference to historical evidence. And while clear and imaginative thinking is universally valuable, by necessity this analysis needs to be contextual. In particular, we need to be particularly cautious about transferring the successful use of technology from one place and time to another.

Napoleon Hill once said “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”

However, transparent communication can open new doors for us to access a more extensive level of information in our lives. When we let go of our individual focus, we are able to experience the dynamics of life to a much greater extent. This allows us to move beyond the interpretation (understanding) of humans as objects in the physical world and thus experience humans from within.

If we recognise that rather than meeting people, we encounter realities in which these people emerge, based on what they believe and defend, we develop a deeper compassion and understanding. We are aware that in this world we all wear a false smile.

Once we begin to comprehend the inner experiences of others, and to create through our being, we make a quantum leap in our communication. We lift communication up to the next level of evolution. This helps us to acknowledge the true cause of many conflicts, looking beyond the symptoms to the root of the problem.

Have we created a separated culture in society, where we disguise the truth and transparency for what people would prefer to hear across technology?

Cultures also differ in how much they encourage individuality and uniqueness vs. conformity and interdependence. Individualistic cultures stress self-reliance, decision-making based on individual needs, and the right to a private life.

Having a defined place within a family, a community and a culture enhances a sense of purpose, stability and resilience over time. In AI culture, roles are clearly defined and egalitarian.

Men and women exist in a cooperative partnership, elders are respected for their wisdom, children are raised to honour adults and to be part of the community as well as the family.

I was discussing with friends recently the morals around an Indian tipi. For more than 400 years, knowledgeable people have agreed that the Indian tipi is absolutely the finest of all moveable shelters. To the Native peoples whose concept of life and religion was deeper and infinitely more unified than his conqueror, the tipi was much more. Both home and church the tipi was a Sacred Being and sharing with family, nature and Creator. The tipi allowed the Plains Indians to move entire villages to suit the seasons and to be nearer to a good supply of food, wood & fresh supply for their horses.

The Cree people use 15 poles to make the structure of the tipi. For every pole in that tipi, there is a teaching. So there are 15 teachings that hold up the tipi. The poles also teach us that no matter what version of the Great Spirit we believe in, we still go to the same Creator from those many directions and belief systems; we just have different journeys to get there.

And where the poles come out together at the top, it’s like they’re creating a nest. And they also resemble a bird with its wings up when it comes to land, and that’s another teaching: the spirit coming to land, holding its wings up.

A full set of Tipi poles, represent: obedience, respect, humility, happiness, love, faith, kinship, cleanliness, thankfulness, sharing, strength, good child rearing, hope, ultimate protection, control flaps.

The tipi teaches us that we are all connected by relationship and that we depend on each other. Having respect for and understanding this connection creates and controls harmony and balance in the circle of life. For every time that a pole is added, a rope goes around to bind that pole into place. You have to be there and see it to appreciate that teaching. That rope is a sacred bond, binding all the teachings together until they are all connected.

So do we have much to learn from the Native American Indians about trust, integrity, humility, and human 2 human communication?

In summary, transparent communication is a way of life in which different levels of consciousness, as well as different levels of development and intelligence, are included. It requires of us that we engage in an experientially oriented exploration of life.

Only then will we truly learn to comprehend the world as a form of exchange in which we share a common space of interaction and learn to recognise the cosmic addresses of conscious content.

A great quote by Stephen R Covey sums up this article when he stated:

“If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust towards me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me ‘an offender for a word’. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

The Pathway to The Trust Paradigm

The first interview for ‘The Trust Paradigm Book’, Geoff Hudson-Searle and Mark Herbert discuss some incredibly important questions about trust and the launch of their new book.

The authors discuss trust and the importance of trust in relationships. Trust is the foundation upon which the legitimacy of government, public institutions and family, the very cornerstone in which relationships are built and is crucial for maintaining social cohesion.

Covid-19 is a crucible within which resilient leadership has been refined since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Acting without perfect information and no playbook, and often with only a few hours or days to spare, CEOs have had to guide their organizations through the myriad of decisions and challenges that have had significant implications for their company’s whole system: employees, customers, clients, financial partners, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders, as well as for society as a whole.

At the same time, almost everywhere we turn, trust is on the decline.

Trust in our culture at large, in our institutions and in our companies is significantly lower than a generation ago. Research commissioned in 2020 by International Business and Executive Management found that 69 percent of employees trust their CEO a little or not at all. Consider the loss of trust and confidence in the financial markets today. Indeed, trust makes the world go round – and right now we’re experiencing a crisis of trust.

In the words of Tom Peters – American writer on business practices – “TRUST, not technology, is the issue of the decade.”

In any normality trust is paramount, but given current world events, never has there been more need for increased trust. This simple formula emphasizes the key elements of trust for individuals and for organizations:

Trust = Transparency + Relationship + Experience

The dynamics of trust are delicate in important relationships, and the loss of trust can be costly — not only psychologically, but also financially and in terms of work and livelihood. What’s helpful to remember is that trust is an ongoing exchange between people and is not static.

Trust can be earned. It can be lost. And it can be regained. ‘The Trust Paradigm’ draws on the hard-won truths of two authors and draws on their deep personal lessons from life and business practice, and their efforts to distill those lessons into principles that lead toward a more purposeful life.

The book is intended to be both a holistic overview of what generates and builds trust and a hands-on guide to how that can be done. A wide range of tips, models, and techniques that will help to build strong and effective trust solutions in today’s business world is combined with a range of insights into the topical subjects of the day.

The term ‘trust’ has been overused forever and, during the last decade, considerably devalued. In this book, the authors aim to take the concept back to its essentials and to re-evaluate how real, meaningful trust can be incorporated into management and leadership.

Although all the chapters in the book are strongly interrelated, for ease of reference it is divided into three key sections: Communications; Strategy, and Business Development and Growth. You can start with your particular area of interest, or you can read the book from the first page to the end; there really is a topic for everyone.

The business professionals and individuals dealing with the great challenges of today’s disruptive and disrupted business world now have renewed responsibility for what business does best: they must innovate, invest and grow their organizations.

Change and transformation can be radical and painful, yet many wait until circumstances force their hand, even when they know that change must, and should, come. Whether change has been forced upon you, or whether you are openly seeking and embracing transformation, this book will arm you with tips, advice and techniques to spark fresh thinking about the status quo and inspire the innovation your circumstances demand for the creation of a better business environment.

‘The Trust Paradigm’s’ lessons are also relevant far beyond the business world. They can support a clearer understanding of institutional behaviour for all kinds of people: students, budding entrepreneurs, volunteers, social enterprise organizers – quite simply, anyone who aspires to do better.

The book will be released in October 2022.

Preorder the book at Troubadour:

Resiliency and Trust – An Unbeatable Combination for Modern Times

By Geoff Hudson-Searle and Brad Borkan

Can a company be successful and competitive in the market and at the same time trusted?

Eric Greitens, a former Navy Seal and Naval Officer once said about resilience:
“We all have battles to fight. And it’s often in those battles that we are most alive: it’s on the frontlines of our lives that we earn wisdom, create joy, forge friendships, discover happiness, find love, and do purposeful work.”

There are two ways to look at the world we are living in in the present moment.

At one level, we are facing unprecedented opportunities. An interconnected world with tremendous, possibly unlimited, potential. Our ability to communicate instantly through multiple mediums is phenomenal. Online educational capabilities can elevate entire nations. An internet connection and a phone can give anyone access to the greatest literature, music, and art ever created. The speed with which electric cars have been adopted, internet-based video as a communication method has been embraced by an aging population, and the ability to start a business in one’s home and grow it online is astounding.

At another level, we are facing unprecedented risk – a war with no end in sight, raging inflation, fractured supply chains leading to food insecurity, millions of migrating people seeking safety, opportunity, or both, and climate change resulting in stronger hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other catastrophes, not to mention deep political divisions in many countries, as well as a seemingly never-ending pandemic risk.

The challenge for people and businesses today is how to navigate through these two views, both of which are very real. We clearly cannot predict the future, given that in early 2019 no business had been expected to be shuttered for months at a time in 2020 and 2021 due to a pandemic. Perhaps only a few military and political experts were expecting a Russia – Ukraine war but the unified free world response to Russian aggression, was not expected, nor were the resultant rising fuel costs.

What this means is we live, work, build our careers, and operate our businesses in a time that is highly unpredictable. So, how do we thrive despite this uncertainty?

This is the question that we pondered over coffee recently. As two authors, one of whom specializes in leadership and teamwork learnings from famous Polar explorers and other events in history such as the building of the Panama Canal and the great railways, and the other one, highly experienced in the management of modern global businesses, we concluded that there were two key skills needed. These are resiliency and trust.

Resiliency – three strategies

Resiliency is in great demand at the individual, team, manager, executive, and organizational levels. It is the ability to bounce back from any setback or contingency encountered. Resiliency is a skill that can be learned, and the more one exercises their resiliency fibers, the more adaptable a person or entity becomes in a world brimming with opportunity, yet subject to grave risk.
Here are three strategies to build resilience gleaned from our experiences.

First, stop striving to make the perfect decision. Instead, focus on having the skills to recover quickly from bad decisions. When there is an unpredictable future, like in present times, there may only be a 50-50 chance of a decision-generating a positive result in the first instance. A three-step ability, to assess, refine and try again, forged in the knowledge that you and your team have the wherewithal to “have another go,” is what successfully saved many polar expeditions as well as polar explorers’ lives.

Second, being able to inspire is key, and that inspiration has to be spoken communication, not email or text. Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s, Winston Churchill in the 1940s, and John F. Kennedy in the 1960s were the great orators of their generations. They didn’t have email or text in those days, but they certainly could write telegrams and letters. Yet their inspiring words were spoken.

That ability to inspire resilience through words is becoming a lost art. Theodore Roosevelt talked about individuals being able to “dare mighty things” in pursuit of “glorious triumphs”, and stated it’s not the critic who counts, it is the person “in the arena” who is to be admired, even if they fail in their pursuit. It only takes one dynamic leader with the right words to inspire a generation to overcome setbacks.

Third, plan that every endeavor of any merit will inevitably hit obstacles. Resiliency comes not from never encountering adversity, but from repeatedly overcoming it in pursuit of a noble goal. Individuals, teams, and organizations build resiliency by pursuing goals they believe in, and while doing their best to avoid challenges, being firm in their belief that the goal is what matters, and discomfort, in whatever form, whether it is financial risk or physical discomfort (in the case of the Antarctic explorers), these were just part of the day-to-day pursuit of the goal, and to be taken in stride.

The other side of the equation is trust.

Trust – three strategies

Trust matters. There are just a few elemental forces that hold our world together. The one that is the glue of society is called trust. Its presence cements relationships by allowing people, organizations and nations to live, work and collaborate together. Trust enables a feeling of safety and standards and enables belonging to a group.

Trust allows organisations and communities to flourish, while the absence of trust can cause fragmentation, conflict and even war. Our focus is organizations. Based on our experiences in looking at C-level leaders, organizations, stakeholders, managers and teams, co-workers, suppliers, customers, industry bodies, regulators and other groupings, it becomes clear that for trust to flourish, it needs to be multi-directional. Trust needs to flow among and between all these sectors.

Here are three strategies to invest in, rebuild, and renew trust.

First, recognize that trust is personal, In the words of British writer George Eliot, “Those who trust us, educate us.” Truly building trust with our stakeholders—understanding their concerns and their priorities—involves a willingness to listen, learn, and hear. Building trust requires business leaders to make conscious daily choices, and especially to act on those choices.

And it needs to be mutual. When leaders trust their stakeholders, they enter an exchange that engenders opportunity: Leaders can prove their trustworthiness, and stakeholders in return can empower their strategic choices and innovations. In essence, mutual trust creates a followership that allows organizations to break new ground, traverse the seismic changes taking place, and emerge thriving on the other side of crisis.

Second, trust becomes established through vulnerability and honesty. Business leaders willing to acknowledge what they don’t know are more likely to create trust with their stakeholders than those leaders who mistakenly believe their greatest source of influence is knowledge—or at least acting as though they know.
A similar paradox exists for organizations responding to a one-time breach of trust. Stakeholders are likely to regain—and even strengthen—trust in the organization when leaders admit the mistake, are apologetic, and are transparent in how they move forward.

Third, authenticity is essential, and this matters most to your stakeholders. Intent connects the leader to their humanity and the importance of acting with transparency. But at the end of the day, intent is just a promise; leaders must be able to act on that promise, and do so competently, reliably, and capably. And they must be able to do so in the areas—whether physical, emotional, digital, or financial—that matter most to their stakeholders at that given time.

Resiliency and Trust – an unbeatable combination

A discussion and running theme that seems to be on every executive’s mind is, “What is required to be an effective leader in today’s totally disruptive business world?”

Businesses of all shapes and sizes in all regions of the world are responding to a vision and set of common values across resiliency and trust. Companies have reported that the combination of embedding resiliency and regaining trust is the new guiding star for a world in constant change, and for dealing effectively with the interconnected environment in which all businesses operate.

Organisations can gain resiliency and trust through having sound leadership at all levels and strong cultures founded on purpose, responsibility, and accountability. Long-term agility and growth come from that.

If this is implemented in conjunction with clear, concise direction from top management, and in such a way that the middle and lower layers within the company are fully engaged, then the results can be meaningful. However, it is not a one-and-done endeavor. Even after the company is fully aligned behind a compelling strategy, leaders must continue to reinforce resiliency and trust from the top. You can’t just adopt it. It must be driven, operationally and in-depth, by the CEO and the top leadership team.

After all, the goal is not to simply navigate today’s needed changes but also to create an organization poised for more change. A resilient and trusted team ready for the next battle – whenever that may be.

Get your free copy of this paper (PDF) here: DOWNLOAD

Geoff Hudson-Searle

Geoff Hudson-Searle is a senior independent digital non-executive director across regulation, technology, and internet security, C-Suite executive on private and listed companies, and serial business advisor for growth-phase tech companies.

With more than 30 years of experience in international business and management. He is the author of six books and lectures at business forums, conferences, and universities. He has been the focus of TEDx and RT Europe’s business documentary across various thought leadership topics and his authorisms.

Geoff is a member and fellow of the Institute of Directors; an associate of The International Business Institute of Management; a co-founder and board member of the Neustar International Security Council (NISC); and a distinguished member of the Advisory Council for The Global Cyber Academy.

He holds a master’s degree in business administration. Rated by Agilience as a Top 250 Harvard Business School thought leader authority covering blogs and writing across; ‘Strategic Management’ and ‘Management Consulting’, Geoff has worked on strategic growth, strategy, operations, finance, international development, growth and scale-up advisory programs for the British Government, Citibank, Kaspersky, BT and Barclays among others.

Contact Geoff on LinkedIn:

Brad Borkan

Brad Borkan is the co-author of two award-winning books. His books provide business and decision insights from the endeavors of extraordinary people: “When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme decision making lessons from the Antarctic”, and “Audacious Goals, Remarkable Results: How an explorer, an engineer and a statesman shaped our modern world”.

A former senior director at leading high tech companies, Brad is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Vice-Chair of the Friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute, and a member of the Society of Authors.

Brad has presented at business and Antarctic conferences and appeared on numerous historical and business-focused podcasts. Brad’s expertise is in the themes of leadership, teamwork, and the modern lessons we can learn from people who dared greatly and succeeded against all odds.

To learn more or to contact Brad, please visit


Our New Forthcoming Book: ‘The Trust Paradigm’

A very proud and privileged moment to have just finished the final manuscript of my sixth book, “The Trust Paradigm”.

The Trust Paradigm draws on the hard-won truths of two authors: Geoff Hudson-Searle and Mark Herbert, in addition to wisdom, deep personal lessons from one’s life and business practice and disciplines towards a more purposeful life.

Matador Publishing has confirmed that this will be the 4th book from Geoff Hudson-Searle that they will now publish in a series of writings aimed to provide individuals with a better lens to understand the opportunities and challenges ahead, to chart your course for change and fulfillment of dreams, desires and aspirations; through wisdom, knowledge and learnings from the book.

Jeremy Thompson, Managing Director, and Hannah Dakin, Customer Services Manager at Matador are truly excited to be working with Mark and me on book number six through their publishing house, I must say working with Matador has really been a seamless process, a truly great and committed team.

Hannah recently quoted ‘Geoff is back with a brand new book, The Trust Paradigm. The book has been written in the hope to help governments, businesses and individuals have a better understanding on a range of subjects across trust — whether that be those who are a part of a government or agency, company/organisation, to students, and any aspiring individuals. It’s always a pleasure to work with Geoff and at Matador Publishing we very much look forward to working with him again on The Trust Paradigm!’
Hannah Daikin, Customer Services Manager Matador Publishing

The Trust Paradigm provides a holistic overview of the essential leading methods in these areas and can be viewed as a hands-on guide. Readers will gain insights into topical subjects, including a wide range of tips, models and techniques that will help to build strong and effective trust solutions in today’s business world.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
American educator and author, Steven R. Covey.

The term Trust has been overused forever and during the last decade devalued. In this book, we aim to simplify these terms and to re-value management and leadership by addressing topics and subjects in each chapter.

Each component can be located by the titles at the top of the pages. The sections within the three components relate strongly to each other and are interrelated to all the other sections. You can start with your area of interest, or you can read the book from the first page to the end; there really is a topic for everyone.

Government, Business professionals and individuals dealing with the great challenges of today’s disruptive business world have renewed responsibility for what business does best: innovate, invest, and grow.

The business professionals and individuals dealing with the great challenges of today’s disruptive and disrupted business world now have renewed responsibility for what business does best: they must innovate, invest, and grow their organizations. Change and transformation can be radical and painful, yet many wait until circumstances force their hand even when they know that change must, and should, come.

Whether the change has been forced upon you, or whether you are openly seeking and embracing transformation, this book will arm you with tips, advice, and techniques to spark fresh thinking about the status quo and inspire the innovation your circumstances demand the creation of a better business environment.

The Trust Paradigm’s lessons are also relevant far beyond the business world. They can support a clearer understanding of institutional behaviour for all kinds of people: students, budding entrepreneurs, volunteers, social enterprise organizers – quite simply, anyone who aspires to do better.

The Trust Paradigm will be a 2022 publication!

In February 2014, I set out as an author with my first book, “Freedom after the Sharks”, to write a weekly blog across a variety of subjects and foremost about people in business, opinions, research and tips, advise on some revelations, past and present.

Each person, no matter their age, occupation or place in the world has a tremendous story to share. A vast tapestry of experiences, truths & pearls of wisdom lies in the vault of the mind, waiting to be unlocked. It takes the slightest intuitive spark to get us talking about our inner lives, the details and dynamics of being human. We are all aware of how important technology is in our lives and keeping our individual worlds connected.

We need to explore new and creative ways of listening, engaging, working together, learning, building community and being in conversation with the other. We are more connected than ever through technology and at the same time the disconnect with ourselves, others and our environment is growing. We need The Trust Paradigm to help us reconnect, going beyond our egos and our fears to build strong relationships, communities, networks and organisations, so that through trusted collaboration we can begin to co-create a more sustainable future.

Readers will gain insights into topical subjects, which include a wide range of tips, models and techniques that will help to build strong and effective solutions in today’s disruptive business world.

The Trust Paradigm will be available in e-book/kindle, paperback, hardback and audiobook formats.

Writing has changed my life. I have always believed that it is your right to speak truthfully in all matters that concern you and to speak from the heart.

It has been an overwhelming experience to receive emails and phone calls from people across all walks of life wanting to share their experiences, their story. Governments, entrepreneurs, business people, students, children, and universities and charitable causes have approached me for keynote sessions, general advice, and inspirational leadership.

I have been overwhelmed with inquiries but will continue to expand and express the journey that each and every one of us deserves.

Every audience has a different dynamic, a different rhythm, and a different reaction. The audience wants, needs, and expects pertinent, real-life information to enhance and support their lives and importantly what they’re facing. I believe it was my destiny in life to push things to the limit. You only get one chance to make an impression. I gave blogging and writing books every opportunity I had of the events that took place for what I believed to be right and true.

In life you survive. You move on but with a purpose and now ‘The Trust Paradigm’

Finally, in times of growing uncertainty, trust is built further when you demonstrate an ability to address unanticipated situations effectively and demonstrate a steady commitment to address the needs of all stakeholders in the best way possible.

The best business leaders begin by framing trust in economic terms for their companies. When an organization has low trust, the economic consequences can be huge. Everything will take longer and everything will cost more because the organization has to compensate for the lack of trust it commands. These costs can be quantified and when they are, leaders suddenly recognize that low trust is not merely a social issue, but it becomes an economic matter. The dividends of high trust can also be calculated and this can help leaders make a compelling business case for trust.

The best leaders focus on making the creation of trust an explicit objective. Like any other goal, it must be measured and improved. It must be made clear to everyone that trust matters to management and leadership. The unambiguous message must be that this is the right thing to do and it is the right economic thing to do. One of the best ways to do this is to make an initial baseline measurement of organizational trust and then to track improvements over time.

It’s clear from the news today that the leaders of some of our most influential governments and corporations are making morally questionable decisions. These decisions will lose the trust of society, customers and employees. No amount of electronic communication – staff intranet, corporate social media, marketing emails – will fix this, yet many organizations assume this can replace meaningful dialogue, which is the only real means of building trust and high-functioning relationships.

Finally, any true transformation starts with building credibility at the personal level. The foundation of trust is your own credibility, and it can be a real differentiator for any leader. A person’s reputation is a direct reflection of their credibility and it precedes them in any interactions or negotiations they might have. When a leader’s credibility and reputation are high, it enables them to establish trust quickly. Speed goes up, the cost goes down

A strong culture is one where there’s trust, connection and belonging, among more. Without trust, you don’t connect with colleagues and without connection, it’s only a matter of time before any sense of belonging to that employer dissipates and you start looking for a job elsewhere — likely with a competitor.

One of the best ways to gauge whether there’s connection or not is to look at your meetings. Do the right conversations take place during those meetings, or, do people wait for the meeting after the meeting so they can get “real work” done? If it’s the latter, then you might want to consider strategies for building trust.

Our intent in this book is to explore from our perspective some of the reasons we find ourselves in this environment and some of the things we need to at least consider changing unless we want to continue the path we are on. This is the rationale why Mark Herbert an I have written The Trust Paradigm.

In the words of Stephen R. Covey:

“If I make deposits into an Emotional Bank Account with you through courtesy, kindness, honesty, and keeping my commitments to you, I build up a reserve. Your trust towards me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it. My communication may not be clear, but you’ll get my meaning anyway. You won’t make me ‘an offender for a word’. When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”

I will be making periodic updates on the progress of our new book, and invite you all to read the new tome on its release.

If there is any question, I can answer for you please leave me a note or send me an email.

Leadership and Trust is the genesis of economic prosperity

I had the fortune of being invited to a lively debate on Friday 25th February 2022, joining the debate was Lieutenant Cornel Oakland McCulloch, Douglas Lines, and our podcast host Scott Hunter, Purpose. Trust and Societal Impact expert and practitioner, discussing the role of leadership in creating trust.

“Today’s leaders have a responsibility to inspire the leaders of tomorrow.”
– Lieutenant Colonel Oak McCulloch

Douglas Lines: Douglas is a senior business leader, executive committee member with substantial global commercial experience, operating principally in financial services.

Geoffrey M.J Hudson-Searle: Geoff is a serial business advisor, CSuite Executive and Non-Executive Director to Private and Publicly listed growth-phase tech companies. An author of 5 books including the best seller ‘Purposeful Discussions’ and rated by Agilience as a Top 250 Harvard Business School authority covering; ‘Strategic Management’ and ‘Management Consulting’

Oakland McCulloch: Oak is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel. He is the author of the 2021 release, Your Leadership Legacy: Becoming the Leader You Were Meant to Be. Based on 40+ years of leadership in the U.S. Army and subsequent civilian positions, Oak highlights principles that will benefit today’s leaders and inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Oak is also a well-known speaker who gives presentations on a variety of topics including leadership, success, military history, college preparation and others.

In previous eras, trust was more often a product of ongoing relationships between individuals who did business together. People knew their bankers, merchants, and employers personally and could assess the content of their character.

These days, business transactions tend to be less personal and more far-reaching than they were even a few decades ago.

Trust remains a vital form of business currency, but customers rely on different signals to convey a company’s trustworthiness — including, in many cases, a wealth of information about its ethical track record and the experiences of its customers and employees.

In fact, globalization is making adherence to commonly accepted ethical standards necessary not just for building trust with employees and customers, but for full-fledged participation in the worldwide economy.

Just as common technological protocols have made the rapid spread of mobile phones and the internet around the world possible, common ethical standards provide a consistent set of rules that allow parties from different cultures and institutional environments to have confidence that they can do business together without being taken advantage of.

The success of global “sharing economy” platforms like Uber and Airbnb has been possible, in large part, because those businesses have developed transparent rating systems that help customers feel they can trust millions of new drivers and hospitality providers.

However, trust has also become a more important consideration within organizations.

Given the rapid pace of change in many industries, driven by digitization, globalization, and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, many employees wonder if their jobs are secure and need to feel that their managers are always open and honest with them.

Perceived trustworthiness has also become an important recruiting consideration.

Expectations for corporate responsibility have changed since the “greed is good” ethos of the 1980s.

Employees want to know their organizations operate in a socially responsible manner. Those who believe their company will always choose to do the right thing over making an immediate profit are more likely to say they would recommend it as a place to work and that they will stay there for another three years.

Gallup’s research has shown that millennial-age employees, in particular, want their careers to coincide with their personal values; they view their jobs as sources of meaning and purpose, rather than just a way to make a living.

Three essential elements of a high-trust culture

Businesses that sustain trusting relationships with employees and customers are distinguished by three central priorities, around which leaders build high-integrity organizational cultures.

Trust directly influences the actions and outcomes of business every day. By embedding trust in a company’s business, leaders generate value for their stakeholders and society more broadly now and in the future.

Make strong customer value the ultimate business goal.

Organizations need an authentic, customer-centric purpose to guide their strategic focus and daily activities. Such a purpose, clearly and commonly articulated by leaders and managers, encodes ethical standards into the DNA of an organization.

If a company exists to improve the lives of its customers, violating their trust or harming their communities through unethical behavior becomes not just a moral issue, but a strategic concern.

As an example, in restructuring their operations after suffering massive losses in the global financial crisis, many retail banks made restoring customer relationships their paramount leadership concern, with many articulating a renewed focus on customer-centricity supported by a set of clearly stated ethical standards and responsibilities.

By contrast, widespread concerns about Facebook’s data-sharing policies and possible privacy violations have led to a slower user and revenue growth and prompted a major ad campaign intended to regain users’ trust.

Establish integrity as a primary organizational value.

High-trust organizations make integrity a core value that influences all HR processes, from performance incentives to hiring criteria.

However, simply hiring principled employees isn’t enough, particularly in an era when ethical implications aren’t always obvious or clear-cut.

Recent research in organizational psychology points to “blind spots” that may lead people to behave unethically without being fully conscious of it.

The concept of bounded ethicality suggests employees often fail to recognize their own moral transgressions, either because the moral dimensions of their decisions aren’t salient enough or because they conflict with other personal or organizational interests.

For example, in the accounting scandals of the early 2000s, major accounting firms were hired and paid by the companies they audited, motivating them to overlook inappropriate – even fraudulent – bookkeeping practices.

Employees need to see their colleagues acting under the assumption that integrity is an essential component of – rather than an obstacle to – their organization’s success.

Such cultural norms ensure employees never feel that their own ethical behavior leaves them at a disadvantage. Conversations about ethics and trust and the consequences of business decisions should become part of a daily routine, especially as organizations embrace experimentation and constant innovation.

Ensure ethical issues are a major leadership focus.

For large organizations, trust is largely a product of leadership.

Business leaders help ensure employees are attuned to ethical issues by calling attention to them on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, many businesses pay lip service to compliance programs without conveying to employees the organization’s commitment to building and maintaining customer trust through ethical practices.

Trust between employer and employee and among employees enhances human capital investment. Trust influences the behaviours of both employers and employees. Deloitte research suggests that employees who highly trust their employer are about half as likely to seek new job opportunities as those who don’t.

At the same time, workers are more likely to invest in their own skill-building if they trust that their employer will reward them for their efforts. This is especially true regarding non-transferable or firm-specific skills, which suggests that trust can raise the level of institutional knowledge that can lead to more productive work.

The world is in crisis. Economies are unwinding; jobs are disappearing and our spirit is being tested. In light of this, it’s imperative for leaders to demonstrate compassion. But the research from Harvard University has shown that compassion on its own is not enough.

For effective leadership, compassion must be combined with wisdom, i.e. leadership competence and effectiveness. This often requires giving tough feedback, making hard decisions that disappoint people, and, in some cases, laying people off.

Showing compassion in leadership can’t come at the expense of wisdom and effectiveness. You need both. The research report gathered data from 15,000 leaders in more than 5,000 companies that span nearly 100 countries, showing that leaders exhibit four different leadership styles that reflect different mixes of wisdom and compassion, and the lack thereof. The optimal style is wise compassionate leadership.

EY Consulting survey confirms 90% of US workers believe empathetic leadership leads to higher job satisfaction and 79% agree it decreases employee turnover.

The majority (88%) of respondents feel that empathetic leadership creates loyalty among employees toward their leaders – revealing that empathy could be the secret sauce to retaining and finding employees in the face of “The Great Resignation.”

A staggering 89% of employees agree that empathy leads to better leadership. In fact, 88% feel that empathetic leadership inspires positive change within the workplace, and 87% say that it enables trust among employees and leaders. Additionally, 85% report that empathetic leadership in the workplace increases productivity among employees.

Beyond improving employee satisfaction and decreasing turnover rates, there are tangible business benefits to prioritizing empathy in the workplace. According to the survey, benefits are plenty, since employees agree that mutual empathy between leaders and employees increases:
– Efficiency (87%)
– Creativity (87%)
– Innovation (86%)
– Company revenue (81%)

Leaders have to be resolute about their desire to foster an empowered organization and their commitment to invest the necessary time and energy to make it work. They have to continuously find ways to signal that desire and following key steps constitutes a very effective way to do so. Yes, there might be some hiccups, but once those are in the rear-view mirror, true empowerment will deliver a powerful upside for employees, their leaders, and the entire organization.

Clarity of thinking, communications, and decision-making will be at a premium. Those CEOs who can best exhibit this clarity, and lead from the heart and the head, will inspire their organisations to persevere through this crisis, positioning their brand to emerge in a better place, prepared for whatever may come. Crises like these, with deep challenges to be navigated, will also lead to opportunities for learning and deepening trust with all stakeholders, while equipping organisations for a step change that creates more value not just for shareholders, but for society as a whole.

Getting a regular cadence with a clear voice is critical. Incomplete or conflicting communications can slow the organisation’s response rather than providing better guidance.

In a time of crisis, trust is paramount. This simple formula emphasises the key elements of trust for individuals and for organisations:

Trust = Transparency + Integrity + Relationship + Experience

Trust starts with transparency: telling what you know and admitting what you don’t. Trust is also a function of relationships: some level of ‘knowing’ each other among you and your employees, your customers, and your ecosystem. And it also depends on experience: Do you reliably do what you say?

In times of growing uncertainty, trust is increasingly built by demonstrating an ability to address unanticipated situations and a steady commitment to address the needs of all stakeholders in the best way possible.

In any time, thriving organisations are true to their purpose, rely on their values, and model agility. Today’s pandemic, which will reduce profits all over the world, is a searing test of every organisation’s culture and values. Leaders who have laid a solid culture foundation, authentically committed to a set of values, and defined and depended on an inspiring purpose are leading through this crisis by making a difference in the lives of employees and the communities they serve. This crisis also serves as a furnace for change for those companies that haven’t yet laid the foundation for a thriving culture.

Working with CEOs over the years, I have found that thriving cultures are those that are purpose-driven and characterised by vitality and a growth mindset. Organisations where leaders are purposeful and intentional and open to personal change, and where every employee has a voice and is actively engaged in living the organisation’s values, are those with thriving cultures. Many organisations entered into this crisis with such a culture. Others were struggling. But, like the process of glass blowing, in which beautiful structures are created by manipulating molten glass in a hot furnace, we have observed healthy and resilient cultures emerge from the fires of crisis.

Culture, we know, is the core of resilience, but it alone is not enough. Other work by our firm has shown that organisations that accelerate performance during good times and bad are able to mobilise, execute, and transform with agility. During today’s pandemic, agility matters more than ever. Amidst rapid-fire health updates, market volatility, and the extreme spread of the coronavirus, a company’s foresight, ability to learn, and adaptability will set it apart. Companies strong in these areas have leaders who are future-focused, demonstrate a growth mindset, are able to pivot quickly in times of rapid disruption, and maintain resilience to navigate their organisations.

Uncovering authentic organisational purpose can come quite simply from finding ways to be of service. What’s needed today is for all leaders to look beyond profit and ask, ‘What do I have that could help someone right now? Where can I practice abundance where there is short supply?’

Organisations will be changed by their actions to make a difference in these times of crisis. Connecting with employees at a human level as we enter into one another’s home offices and living rooms, meeting children and pets on the screen, is organically changing and strengthening cultures. It’s happening today by default; tomorrow leaders can shape their cultures with lessons learned by design. Leaders and organisations that count on their core culture and values and make a difference while pivoting to solve for the future will emerge from the fires of this crisis and thrive.

Finally, leadership has got to step up, if you want to save your job in the next 10 years, you need to adopt a balance between IQ, EQ, SI, DI, WI and trust intelligence. Emotional intelligence isn’t just an idea for leadership anymore, it’s a prerequisite for the trust toolbox.

The way to build trust and drive home purpose is to master honest communication and include employees and stakeholders in key decisions. “We’ve seen fax machines, long emails, instant messaging, all kinds of collaboration tools come, go and sometimes stay. Business is about communicating with purpose, active listening, empathy. More trust has got to be to put into the executive leadership. Trust is the glue.”

The more emotional intelligence leadership teams employ across teams, the more you’ll see an increase in trust because people will see it’s not just words but actions. At IBEM, we commissioned a trust report back in January 2020. Even before I commissioned the research, I knew what to expect.

“69% of everyone surveyed said they don’t trust CEO or line manager.”

I would take that as applicable across all business and commerce. We’ve got to communicate more, build trust within organisations more. We can’t deliver anything without fixing this problem.

Inclusion of people into the decision-making process helps cement purpose and values.”

Vincent Thomas Lombardi was an American football coach and executive in the National Football League, who once said:

“A team is not a group of people who play together, a team is a group of people who trust each other.”

To drive long-term growth every business needs creativity, innovation and importantly design thinking.

Since the dawn of the first industrial revolution, machines have largely been used to improve efficiency. We’ve now entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution – an era in which machines will become smart, self-optimizing themselves and the systems in which they operate. It’s a shift that’s shaping many of the megatrends, one that Douglas Lines and myself have identified at International Business and Executive Management [IBEM}, that are in turn changing how the world works.

Gartner stated for the record: ‘Digital transformation is more successful with a positive shift in culture. In fact, 80% of enterprises will change their culture as a way to accelerate their digital transformation strategy’.

Some have seen this as the rise of the robots – a dystopian future of mass unemployment and dehumanization as intelligent machines do away with the need for people.

But history suggests that while new technologies may end the need for human involvement in some tasks, they will usually also enable the creation of entirely new jobs – even entirely new industries. The challenge isn’t the technology – it’s to be creative in reimagining how to use it to generate fresh opportunities, value and growth.

Success and growth won’t be achieved by focusing on technology alone, because technology is no more than a tool that enables us to develop goods and services that humans need. The real skill isn’t in developing technological solutions, it’s in identifying what people want – and then finding the best ways to deliver. The question isn’t how to use the technology, it’s what impact that technology can have.

Ask any CEO in the world to write a top-five wish list, and we guarantee that “more ideas—better ideas!” will show up in some form. Most likely it’ll be right at the top. CEOs know that ideas and innovation are the most precious currency in the new economy and, increasingly, in the old economy as well. Without a constant flow of ideas, a business is condemned to obsolescence.

There are three primary ways technology – and especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) – can encourage human creativity in meeting human needs:

– Freeing up time for humans to focus on innovation.
– Offering opportunities to creatively combine technologies to create new ways of working.
– Actively augmenting human decision-making, by adding a layer of machine-driven data analysis to guide our creative choices.

Today, the division of labour between human and machines/algorithms across total task hours looks like this:
– Humans: 71%
– Machines/Algorithms: 29%

By 2025, according to a report by the World Economic Forum, it’s predicted to be:
– Humans: 58%
– Machines/Algorithms: 42%

While this shift naturally generates both excitement and fear, stories about the future of work are often technology-focused and, therefore, fail to capture one aspect I find critical: As machines/algorithms automate once-impossible tasks and replace those that are repetitive and laborious, it is likely that creativity will increasingly become a vital (and, further down the road, measurable) skill of the modern worker.

LinkedIn recently analysed the skills listed on profiles of candidates who are getting hired at the fastest rate and found creativity to be the top “soft” skill. The report’s summary stated that this result wasn’t surprising: “Organisations everywhere need people who can innovate and conceive fresh ideas and solutions.”

“The human spirit must prevail over technology.” —Albert Einstein

You cannot go back to the stone age. You must embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and the fourth industrial revolution (FIR). Humans evolved from the stone age to the space age because of the power of imagination and creativity. Technology creates dialogue among researchers and people. It cannot replace creativity. It can complement creativity. Therefore, treat technology as an ally, not an enemy to take forward human civilization in the right direction. To conclude, humans must know how to harness technology for the benefit of humankind.

According to an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry, soft skills are more accurately referred to as CORE (competence in organisational and relational effectiveness) skills. This definition is likely to cause less confusion than “soft.”

In line with LinkedIn’s findings are those from the World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs Report 2018,” which lists creativity as one of the major skill groups in demand today and set to grow through 2022. With creativity rising, the heat is on to tie its impact not only to disruptive, industry-changing ideas, but also to key performance indicators throughout the company. And future research is likely to shine more light on the dichotomy between what companies believe and say about creativity and their actual practice.

One global study from Adobe offers a glimpse into this: While 76% of respondents say companies that invest in creativity are more likely to have happier employees, 77% also believe there is increasing pressure to be productive rather than creative at work.

Business leaders spend considerable time thinking about how to best keep up with technological advancements to prepare their companies for the future of work. While addressing this is an important, ongoing process, few seem to be considering an equally important topic: how they’ll improve their organisation’s creativity skills.

Right now, companies that are combining technologies like this can gain competitive advantages over more traditional rivals.

To take one example, a drone on its own is little more than a fancy radio-controlled helicopter – a toy. A drone with a camera is a surveillance tool. A drone with a camera, depth-sensors, a robotic arm, and AI is an autonomous tool that can radically change how we use warehouse space or deliver goods to customers by finding more efficient transport routes. Meanwhile, more traditional companies are still using slower, less efficient human-driven fork-lift trucks.

The next ten years will see an explosion of innovation as smart technologies mature and ever more businesses use them in combination with existing and emerging technologies to create radical new approaches to doing business and meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.

But remember this isn’t about the technology itself, no matter how creatively it’s combined. The pace of technological change will continue to accelerate – no one piece of technology will be enough to give a lasting competitive advantage in such an environment.

The truly successful businesses will be the ones that realize their transformation isn’t a one-off change to adopt the latest technological tools, but an ongoing process – with the needs of people placed firmly as the focal point of innovative efforts, not the capabilities of the currently available tools.

Looking to 2030 and beyond, the impact of such human-focused innovation could radically change how the world works. The number of possible permutations is vast – and when AI enables these new combinatorial creations to continuously self-optimize, they should get continually more impactful.

It’s time for us to reframe our relationship with technology, reimagining how to use technologies to meet real human needs, enable new ways of working, and power human enterprise. With the right approach, people can be both the drivers and beneficiaries of technological change, unlocking new paths to value and human engagement, helping us reinvent our organizations to be ready for what’s next, and fully realizing human potential.

It’s one thing to create a technology, but it’s another to use it to transform how a business operates.

To unlock AI’s true potential and unleash human creativity, businesses should seek to shake off their preconceptions and reimagine the fundamentals of how their industry operates – and what purposes they serve for their customers.

As you reimagine what your business and industry could look like in the next five to ten years, you should also start thinking how you can reshape your operations to make your vision as effective as possible:

Use technology to do the mundane, freeing up humans to focus on the higher-level creative thinking and strategic decision-making that add true long-term value.

Combine technologies to create better ways of working.

Focus on finding ways of deploying AI not just to replace humans, but to guide their creative choices.

A successful strategy for driving long-term value and growth will never come solely from upgrading your tools – it’s from ensuring your strategies and processes meet the needs of your human customers and employees. Even the most cutting-edge technology alone will never be a lasting solution – just a way of enabling better ways of meeting those needs.

Finally, rather than be worried about the rise of AI, businesses should embrace the opportunity technology brings to unleash a new wave of human creativity and power human enterprise. It can free up time for innovation, provide new combinations of technologies to enable better ways of working, and help guide us on the path towards even more effective creative ideas.

With so many societal signals pushing us toward technology (and to become data-driven rather than data-informed, a critical distinction), the push to reskill will no doubt involve a heavy focus on technology. As a result, there exists an opening for those willing to tread the less obvious, more human path toward developing a CORE (competence in organisational and relational effectiveness) skill that can amplify all others.

Finally, those who work to build their creative capacity are likely to be rewarded, especially if they can document which creative decisions they make, how they bring them to life and the impact on company performance.

Kenya Hara, a Japanese graphic designer, curator and writer once said:

“Creativity is to discover a question that has never been asked. If one brings up an idiosyncratic question, the answer he gives will necessarily be unique as well.”

Is our heart reserved for True Love, a sacred flame that burns eternally for one love?

I have been having much debate with my circle of close friends recently over the subject of ‘Love’ and whether we ever forget our first ‘True Love’. For some people, they will never truly experience ‘True or Unconditional Love’ and for others, there is a long distant memory of ‘True Love’.

I love the quote by Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We all have experiences to share.

Some of you will remember a blog that I wrote in July 2016 called ‘Do we forget our first love or how people have made us feel, or are we still in love?’. And prior, ‘Can Love Last Forever’ – this was written just before another interesting blog: ‘Can Love Conquer All or is Love a Myth?’.

A few years ago, I interviewed a love expert and special friend in the subject matter, Jo March, author of ‘Love is Simple’. After several cups of tea at the Terrace Room at The Meridian Hotel in Piccadilly – London, and much discussion sharing past and present experiences, Jo explained:
‘Why people should live in love and why we are not communicating and forging meaningful and unconditional relationships, love is simple right…?’

Love is simple when we understand the true meaning of unconditional love. The kind of love that transforms and transcends us as human beings to a higher level of consciousness, in those moments when we truly love, we become alive, we feel passion, we feel life in every breath. Love is life, at the core of everything we do on this life path it is love that is the driving force.

I could not agree more. That being said, I have learnings from a few things about doing what you love for life and business — and this was the précis for my first book, ‘Freedom After The Sharks’.

Jo mentioned a quote by Maya Angelou, I am sure will resonate with us all:

“I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold — that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.”

I have often written on the subject of love and relationships and with Valentines upon us I recently reminisced on the subject: ‘Is our heart reserved for True Love, a sacred flame that burns eternally for one love?’

Or as William Shakesphere once said in his play is ‘The World Just a Stage?

The meaning of this phrase is that this world is like a stage and all human beings are merely actors – Oscar Wilde has put his spin on this phrase, declaring “The world is a stage, and the play is badly cast.”
Allan Moore in his novel, ‘V for Vendetta’, has taken it to a completely new level by saying “All the world’s a stage, and everything else is vaudeville.” Now notice how people love to quote this phrase, because it sounds very clever, and they believe that this line has something that still resonates today.

With the world stage aside the facts are instead of strong, meaningful conversations and relationships, we struggle through long series of bad dates and so-called hook-ups. Instead of meeting people in real life, we are constantly swiping and messaging somebody new. Instead of telling people how we feel, we do not text back. We no longer have people cancel, we get flaked on, and then we flake on other people. We no longer date or commit, we “see” and “hang out” with each other. We are complicit in a dating culture that systematically prevents intimacy. I believe and the evidence certainly supports this, that we have become a generation afraid of being in love.

One could say “We are complicit in a dating culture that systematically prevents intimacy”.

I read a recent article from UCLA called ‘What does being committed to your marriage really mean?’ UCLA psychologists answered this question in a new study based on their analysis of 172 married couples over the first 11 years of marriage.

“When people say, ‘I’m committed to my relationship,’ they can mean two things,” said study co-author Benjamin Karney, a professor of psychology and co-director of the Relationship Institute at UCLA. “One thing they can mean is, ‘I really like this relationship and want it to continue.’ However, commitment is more than just that.”

The psychologists’ report demonstrated that a deeper level of commitment is a much better predictor of lower divorce rates and fewer problems in marriage.

Of the 172 married couples in the study, 78.5 percent were still married after 11 years, and 21.5 percent were divorced. The couples in which both people were willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the marriage were significantly more likely to have lasting and happy marriages, according to Bradbury, Karney and lead study author Dominik Schoebi, a former UCLA postdoctoral scholar who is currently at Switzerland’s University of Fribourg.

So, do we marry a ‘soul mate’ or a ‘life partner’?

Soul Mate:
Someone who is aligned with your soul and is sent to challenge, awaken and stir different parts of you in order for your soul to transcend to a higher level of consciousness and awareness. Once the lesson has been learned, physical separation usually occurs.

Life Partner:
A companion, a friend, a stable and secure individual who you can lean on, trust and depend on to help you through life. There is a mutual feeling of love and respect and you are both in sync with each other’s needs and wants.

At different times of our lives, we will need and want different types of relationships. Neither is better or worse than the other, it is all a personal decision and one that you will feel guided to as long as you are following your heart.

In summary, our childhoods taught us to value love; but our institutions, cities, and technology have taught us to fear commitment and put choice first. We are trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of emotional distance from each other.

Most of us really want love at some point, but our actions are at war with this desire. We maintain an emotional distance because we fear commitment and rejection, not because that is our true self. We replace the feeling of true intimacy with short-term flings, long-term noncommittal hookups, and sex. We comfort ourselves knowing at least we’re not feeling the stinging pain of a broken heart, at least we don’t have to deal with real emotions. My belief is that we have trapped ourselves in a cycle that we are all complicit within.

This cycle is detrimental to us all. Happiness means different things to different people. For some, it is marriage and kids, for others, it is traveling the world, and for others it is a rainy day with a good book. One thing that we all share, however, is that having strong, positive relationships in our life is one of the keys to happiness and fulfillment. Even anecdotally, we know this to be true.

When we keep emotional distance because of the fear of rejection, we lose out on one of the most important aspects of being human. Deep inside, we know we are unfulfilled but we do not know how to fix ourselves. So, we play the game where there are no winners. We must break free from this culture that damages us all and learn to love again.

For most of us, improving our relationships is one of the best things we can do in our lives. For me, with this realisation and my committed effort to be more open, honest, and straightforward, I have been able to not only improve how I treat other people but also the quality of my relationships with my circle of wonderful friends.

Final thought, there’s no reason that “love forever ” cannot exist, and in fact, relationships with so much love and sustainability should exist with the partner that you call your love or spouse.

True love is a decision of the will. It’s a choice based on many factors, including that “in love” feeling you have for your love or spouse. Such a feeling can be built upon with tenderness, romantic gestures, and caring choices all along the way. We all celebrate Valentines Day today, whilst the day represents love with the partner of your choice, love should not be celebrated once a year, as Jo stated ‘love that transforms and transcends us as human beings to a higher level of consciousness, in those moments when we truly love, we become alive, we feel passion, we feel life in every breath’ the gestures of love, the small touchpoints of affection should be constant.

Music is also a great channel for communicating your true feelings to the person of your dreams, Kenny Thomas once wrote a record called Tender Love

Maybe, this is the answer to a happier and more fulfilling life, maybe there is only one person in the universe for everyone, one person that we call home, and maybe it has led me to finding love, my true love, my first and only love and soul mate.

I just know I do not want to be complicit in modern dating culture any more. I am happy when building real emotional connections in business and in life, and I guess, that is what we all want in the end, to be happy and in love with real connections, real people, real-life – a real soul connection – not a world stage with an actor or actors.

One of my favourite quotes by Tamie Dearen, from her book ‘The Best Match’:

“Love is such a small word for what I feel. For the first time in my life, I have a reason to breathe. I’m enchanted with every part of you I know, and I only know a small part so far. I plan to spend the rest of my life searching out every hidden enchantment in your body and soul. And I’m going to cherish and protect you with every fiber of my being. So, do I love you? No… I love love love you.”