US Financial Crisis, Trust and Change Management

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I was watching a news program that had three experts talking about the financial crisis in the US. One was in full support of the proposed plan. Another said that we have weathered big storms before with no intervention. And the third person talked about another way of addressing the problem.

I am not an economist, nor do I know what we should do. But, as I listened, I found myself nodding in agreement as one speaker talked. And I realized it wasn’t the content of his message that had me agreeing with him. It was him. I trusted the speaker. I had read many things he had written. He writes and speaks so that people not versed in economic theory can understand what he says. And I have agreed with him on many issues in the past.

As I watch the hearings, I keep looking for people who I can trust. I want to trust their knowledge, their values, and the motivation. When I find them, I breathe a little easier. And, here’s the big thing – “I tend to believe them.”

I think trust has huge implications for leaders in organizations who want to promote something new. Trust matters. I know that is a simple thing to say, so let me say in caps, “TRUST MATTERS.” It really does matter. People will follow, will give the benefit of the doubt, and stay tuned into a conversation, if “and only if ” they trust the people talking to them.

For those who know my work, you know that I emphasize trust a lot in change management. The financial crisis facing the US (and perhaps the world) provides a great place to examine just how powerful our trust in leaders impacts how we think and what we choose to support. And this is especially true in situations where the content is simply too complex for regular people to grasp fully.