Trust is a catalyst that enhances performance, binds people together, and shapes the way they relate to each other. Without trust, it’s irrational to take risks. If you think somebody is going to take credit for your ideas or ridicule a slightly crazy notion, you won’t put yourself out there. And without new ideas, innovation and progress can’t happen.
Trust also allows us to function in times of uncertainty. Progress can now be measured today by the degree to which employees and stakeholders embrace vulnerability and extend trust to each other. Yet at the exact moment, there is a greater appreciation for the positive impacts of trust in organizations, we face widespread lack of certainty in a fake-news, post-truth world.
I call this problem the Certainty Gap—the distance between an individual’s ideal vision of stability and security, and the realities of life. Filling the Certainty Gap requires business leaders to fundamentally rethink the meaning of trust and do something that may strike some as counterintuitive: give trust away. We can’t make the world more certain, but by extending trust, as opposed to requiring others to earn that trust, business leaders can help fill the Certainty Gap. That starts with trusting people with the truth.