Ep. 110: David Horsager on The Commonality Of The Most Trusted Leaders

In this episode, David rides solo as he discusses the commonality of the most trusted leaders and answers some common questions he’s gotten about his work.

Buy David’s book “Trusted Leader”: https://amzn.to/3luyqf1

David’s Company: https://trustedge.com/

David’s Bio:
David Horsager, MA, CSP, CPAE is the CEO of Trust Edge Leadership Institute, Trust Expert in Residence at High Point University and The Wall Street Journal best-selling author of The Trust Edge, The Daily Edge, and Trusted Leader. He is also a podcaster, creator of the Enterprise Trust Index™, and director of one of the nation’s foremost trust studies, The Trust Outlook®.

Horsager has advised leaders and delivered life-changing presentations on six continents, with audiences ranging from Delta, FedEx, and Toyota to the New York Yankees, MIT and the Department of Homeland Security.

His work has been featured in prominent media such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and MSNBC. Through speaking, training, consulting, and coaching, David and his team at Trust Edge Leadership Institute make it their mission to develop trusted leaders and organizations. With his trademark 8 Pillar Framework, David breaks trust down into tangible steps that can be leveraged right away to build a high-trust culture— because high-trust leaders and organizations bring out the best in their people and get measurable results.

David’s Links:
Website: https://davidhorsager.com/
Company Website: https://trustedge.com/
Newest Research: https://trustedge.com/the-research/
“Trusted Leader” by David Horsager: https://amzn.to/3luyqf1
LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2Xbsg5q
Facebook: https://bit.ly/2S9O6mj
Twitter: https://bit.ly/2BEXgla
Instagram: https://bit.ly/2QDFOE5

Key Quotes:
1. “Trust is always the root issue.”
2. “A lack of trust is always the biggest expense.”
3. “We have to think of trust and see trust as the core issue then we can absolutely solve it.”
4. “Everything of value is built on trust.”
5. “People trust the clear and they mistrust or distrust the ambiguous or the overly complex.”
6. “Clarity wins in the new economy.”
7. “We trust those that care beyond themselves.”
8. “We trust those that do what is right over what is easy.”
9. “You’ve got to stay fresh and relevant and capable.”
10. “We trust those that stay committed even in the face of adversity.”
11. “You’ve got to deliver results.”
12. “We trust those that are the same.”
13. “If you’re not measuring trust you’re not measuring the right thing.”
14. “We want to increase trust in leaders and organizations.”

Links Mentioned In The Episode:
David’s Speaking Website: https://davidhorsager.com/
Company Website: https://trustedge.com/
Newest Research: https://trustedge.com/the-research/
Trust Edge Certification: https://trustedgeplatform.com/
Attend the Trusted Leader Summit: http://trustedleadersummit.com/

Buy David’s NEWEST Book “Trusted Leader”: https://amzn.to/3luyqf1

David’s Links:
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/36AXtp9
Follow us on Facebook: https://bit.ly/2S9O6mj
Follow David on Twitter: https://bit.ly/2BEXgla
Follow David on LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2Xbsg5q
Follow David on Instagram: https://bit.ly/2QDFOE5

Show Transcript

David Horsager:
Welcome to the Trusted Leader Show. I’m your host, David Horsager. Join me as I sit down with influential leaders from around the world to discuss why leaders and organizations fail top tactics for high performance, and how you can become an even more trusted leader.
Hello, it’s David Horsager on The Trusted Leader Show, and I’m back with you on a special episode, our 110th episode. We’ve had 109 amazing guests from the founder of the Ritz Carleton Hotel to entrepreneurs to admirals, and it has been a treat to see how people are building trusted leaders and organizations around the world, high trust cultures, and, uh, a whole lot of other things. So today it’s gonna be just me, and I’m gonna answer a few of the questions you’ve had about what we think about trust, how we actually build it, and how do we do that outta the institute. So some of the background information, and then at the end, I’ve got a surprise for you that I’m gonna share at the very end of this episode. So first, why trust? People keep asking me, but why trust? Well, it goes back to my graduate work, you know, almost two decades ago, all the work we do out of the institute, the work we’ve done across six continents, our certified partners around the world.
Why trust? Because I believe trust is always the root issue. A lack of trust is always the biggest expense in an organization, in a family, in any relationship. We have to think of trust and see, trust as the core issue, then we can absolutely solve it, otherwise we don’t solve it. People think it’s an engagement issue, it never is. The only way to increase engagement is increasing trust. It’s not a net promoter score issue at the core. In fact, we have to, the research even shows you have to increase trust, the increase referrals. We don’t have a leadership issue at the core. The only, you know, reason we follow a leader has something to do with trust. We don’t have a sales issue. The only reason people buy has something to do with trust in the person, the product, or the service. We don’t have a, uh, diversity, equity, inclusion issue.
Actually, at the core, the biggest Harvard study shows diversity on its own, tends to pit people against each other unless the increased trust. And then we can get enormous benefits out of diversity, equity, inclusion, and a host of other things. Even innovation goes up when people trust each other. Then they’ll share ideas, otherwise, they’re too scared to share ideas. What about in a classroom? How do we increase learning? There’s only one way. We have to increase trust in the content, the teacher or the psychological safety or trust of the room. How do we amplify a marketing message? We have to increase trust in that message. So we know it from the research. Number one reason people wanna leave an organization and first world countries or, or they want to work for an organization is trusted leadership. We keep seeing the data in our global study trust outlook.
If you’d like access to the trust outlook, just email us or look at the show notes. We’re gonna give you access to the trust outlook. We put out one of the most significant pieces of research on trust and leadership every year out of trust edge leadership institutes. So first of all, why trust? Because trust is the root issue for influence, for sales, for every relationship, everything of value from the greatest financial, financial institutions to every great relationship you’re in. It’s built on trust. We’ve seen this triple sales for organizations when they focus on trust. We’ve seen it change engagement and attrition by millions of dollars. And we’ve heard people say it, help them save their marriage trust. We have to see trust of the core issue as I see it. When people focus on trust, they’re focusing on the real issue as far as building culture, increasing performance or anything else.
Well, that begged the second question. Many have heard it before, but I’m gonna do a quick overview for those that are asking and have just been podcast listeners. Now, we’ve reached over 80 countries and, uh, everything from senators to senior leaders. And so how do we actually build trust? Well, I can talk about this framework for eight days straight, but there’s a framework that came out of the research of how trust is built globally. And we can contextualize this around the world, but it always comes back to these eight, I call them the eight pillars of trust, or the eight pillar framework. I’ll give you a quick overview of them. And just for context, uh, even though there is so much, so many takeaways and tactics of how we build trust under each of them. So very briefly, here they are. For many of you, this is a review for some of this, uh, some of you podcast listeners that I haven’t seen or spoken to your company or we haven’t worked with you, uh, specifically I wanna give you this overview and then we’re gonna get into a few other key ideas.
But how is, if trust is so important, how is it built? Well, the eight pillars of trust, number one is clarity. People trust the clear and they mistrust or distrust the ambiguous or the overly complex. It doesn’t matter if this is in strategic planning, marketing or a message from the ceo. If it’s ambiguous or you’re trying to look smart and it’s too complex, you lose clarity, which always loses trust. And most people, they don’t get the level of clarity I’m talking about more many branding and marketing experts are not clear at the level I’m talking about. So many of you have heard of our how, how, how strategy or odc or other strategies for how you get clear. You need to be about clarity. Clarity wins in the new economy. Second pillar is compassion. We trust those that care beyond themselves. That a key word that came under this pillar was intent.
We trust those that have intent beyond themselves. It, it’s, you know, it’s hard to be following someone or hard to, you know, be accountable to someone if we don’t believe they have intent or care beyond themselves. Even if they don’t care about me, they have to have some missional beyond themselves, care beyond themselves. So compassion. In fact, the most trusted person in the world to the most people is not, you know, a certain actor or even the Pope. It is in fact, mom, according to the research, because mom shows intent and care. There’s great dads out there, but by, but from the research, the most trusted person in the world is mom. Intent matters. Number three is character. We trust those that do what is right over what is easy. And we have a seven step process for how you build this into an organization.
This is something we have to build into ourselves as leaders. You know, some of the questions I ask to leaders is, would you follow you? People think they have all their character built by 12 years old, and that’s a false psychology. Your company, your organization, your team, and you as an individual, you’ll, you are moving toward or away from higher character every single day. And you, if you’re leading your organization or team, must be the culture keeper. And you must continually think about this pillar of character. The next pillar is competency. We might think character is important. Of course, it’s foundational where trust is concerned, but we trust those that have a high character, but they, they have to be competent. I might trust you to, you know, take my kids to the ballgame because of your character compassion. That does not mean I will trust you to give me a root canal.
You’ve gotta be competent. You’ve gotta stay fresh and relevant and capable. This week I was speaking to some school board members, uh, and teachers and I said, if you’re still teaching the way you were 30 years ago, I probably don’t trust you. If you’re a salesperson selling the way you were five years ago, I don’t trust you. If you’re leaving the way you were just two years ago, I probably don’t trust you. You’ve gotta be fresh, relevant, capable. You’ve got to be a learning leader. Competency matters, and we see companies winning on this pillar. Their training and their development and their, it’s, it’s increasing attrition, increasing retention, I should say lowering attrition. It’s increasing productivity. You have to create a learning environment and you have to make a priority of competency often in several different ways. Competency on the product competency. One thing we know from the research is people care about, uh, leadership development and people development over tactical competency three to one in their organization.
And when they get those kind of training and development pieces, they tend to stay longer and, um, increase retention massively. So competency, the next pillar’s commitment. We trust those that stay committed even in the face of adversity. Commitment matters. If I think you’re gonna jump, whether it’s a pandemic or something else tough that happens, I probably won’t follow you or trust you. I need someone I know is gonna be committed even when it’s tough. And while this is not easy and there are mental illness issues and other things, if you’re leading, we we need to know you’re gonna be committed. Even though this is tough, if, if I take anybody in history or in, you know, my life that’s left a legacy, my mom or dad or first grade teacher or Mandela or Martin Luther King or Gandhi or Jesus or Joan of Ark, anybody that’s really left a legacy, they were committed to something beyond themselves, maybe to death.
We trust those that are committed. The next pillar is connection. The willingness to connect and collaborate with others. If, if you think you gotta always do it on your own, if you, if you don’t have humility, we know this. Those that are arrogant are opposed. We humility, a willingness to work with others, a willingness to collaborate, a willingness to connect. Connection matters in in companies. We’ll see people incentivizing, siloing. Maybe they’re doing it by saying, you have to use up this budget and stop thinking about everybody else. Just think about yourselves. If you don’t use it up, you’re not getting it. Next year. We know that’s a counterforce to this pillar of connection and collaboration. The second to last pillar is contribution. Getting results. The number one word that came outta this funnel was results. You’ve gotta contribute results. You can’t just have compassion character, you gotta deliver results.
We sometimes joke that, you know, if I go in for surgery, let’s say it’s amputation, I could have a kind surgeon, a compassion surgeon, but if they cut off the wrong leg, we still have a problem. You’ve gotta deliver the results I expected or ask for. You can’t just have compassion character, you have to contribute results. However, you can’t just contribute results, either you have to do it with compassion, clarity, character, or you will also lose trust. The final pillar of the eight pillar framework or the eight pillars of trust, is consistency. We trust those that are the same. There’s consistency, like, you know, it’s, um, you maybe, uh, for good or bad, by the way, this pillar, if, if you’re late all the time, I will absolutely trust you to be late. Consistency wins. The only way to build a reputation is consistency. The only way to build a brand is consistency across the organization.
And it’s not just a logo, it is the feel. It is the values, it is the mission. Consistency wins. So that’s a brief of the eight pillar framework, and I believe you can solve every organizational leadership issue against these eight. It’s one of these, it’s not leadership. It’s not even this, David, isn’t it ever a communication issue? You love C words, isn’t it ever a communication? It’s not. Communication is happening all the time. Clear clarity, clear communication is trusted, unclear. Communication isn’t high character communication is trusted. Dishonest communication isn’t competent. Communication is trusted. Incompetent isn’t compassionate, caring. Communication is trusted, hateful communication isn’t. So when we define against these eight, we start to solve for what we actually meant. And these eight pillars built trust, which is the cornerstone of success in leaders, organizations and teams. It doesn’t matter if we’re dealing with corruption issues in East Africa or pro sports issues on some of the pro sports teams we work with or company issues, it comes back to these eight.
So there’s a case for trust. There’s an eight eight pillar framework, and if you’d like more on this, obviously trust edge.com or the research is@trustoutlook.com. But, um, we are passionate about this work. Our mission is developing trusted leaders and organizations around the world. We exist because we think trust matters more than ever. And when we help people increase trust, we’ve helped them the most. But people sometimes have asked us, well, how do you actually do this in our organization? Outside of the research you do, how do you actually roll it out? How do you actually create culture change? We’ve heard that you’ve dropped attrition or increased retention or tripled sales or whatever you’ve done for organizations. And we work with some of the top, you know, universities and governments and businesses and educational institutions and police forces in the country. So how do I actually do it?
Well, we break down our work to a simple acronym, ice, i c e I. We start by inspiring a shift of thinking around trust. I, I personally give about a hundred keynotes a year around the world where I share this idea around trust. Try to inspire a shift of thinking around trust because people have the wrong idea about trust. They, they, it’s more complex than we might think. Or someone might say, well, trust, that’s just transparency. No, it’s not. Some of your kids are so transparent on social media, I don’t trust them for a second, because confidentiality is also trusted. So I wanna wake people up to what trust is and exactly how it’s built. And we have other people out at the institute that share this message. And of course, over a hundred certified partners and facilitators that share this trust work around the world.
So that’s inspire a shift of thinking that might be an executive day with your team. That might be a keynote opening, a national sales meeting. The C is clarify and measure, and that’s, you know, our consulting process, uh, consulting practice. That’s where we’re measuring trust in organizations. We’re, we’re using our enterprise trust index built on 30 years of Accenture data and my grad work. And, you know, other things that measure trust or our trusted 360 or our team trust assessment or our trust, trusted customer assessment. These are six ways, tools, instruments that we use to measure trust. Because one, we can see the gap, we can actually close that gap. And we’ve had organizations say they saw a gap and saved a million dollars in one week. When you see it, this is the, you know, the, the great, uh, Peter, Peter Drucker, the management, uh, guru said, what gets measured gets managed. When we can see the gap, we can actually close that gap. And that’s why we measure trust in organizations and governments and sports teams and so forth that we wanna measure. If you’re not measuring trust, I don’t think you’re measuring the right thing.

Kent Svenson (ad):
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David Horsager:
So the I is inspire, the C is clarify or measure, and the e in I stands for equip. We think if you don’t equip people, your people, if you don’t certify some people, license them, give them tools they can use ongoing, reinforce this message, give them a common language, then you just have a flavor of the month idea. And that doesn’t tend to create culture change. So when we go serve organizations, we want to equip them. We can do that ongoing or we can certify and license their people to use our content. We have an amazing, you know, trust edge platform where people can use tools and reinforcement manuals and ideas and um, and, and the video library and also measurement tools. And they get to be on our monthly calls where we’re sharing new ideas and data and resources and research. And so we want to equip them.
We also equip, you know, independent, uh, executive coaches so they can use our tools with those that they serve, uh, at a high level. So that’s our, that’s our basic model under that, there’s, there’s coaching and consulting, but there’s inspire shift of thinking. There’s clarify and measure trust, and then there’s equip people so they can drive trust into their organizations. Of course, we’ve done this in everywhere from, you know, United Health to Toyota, to Walmart, to small companies and, uh, pro sports teams and whatnot. But I’m passionate about this work. People say, David, you’re so passionate. When are you gonna talk about something other than trust? Never. Why? What happened? Why’d you get so passionate? Well, I think what happened was, you know, that grad work became interesting to people before anyone was really looking at trust in this way. I mean, very few people when I did the research of research 20 years ago or so, there was, there was relatively little or no research in the space like I was doing.
And that gave me passion. But then, you know, the book came out and that became a, you know, best seller and stuff. And that gave me passion. Then we use it in an organization. They said they dropped attrition cost by two to 4 million in nine months. And that gave me passion. But maybe the biggest reason I’m so passionate is not just I’ve seen change in others, in companies and leaders. It changed me along the way. It made me a better leader and a better dad and a better, you know, husband. And I’m not perfect at any of the work that I teach, but I have seen it change even me. So that’s our, that’s how we think about it. We wanna make sure we ice it, we inspire it and clarify it, and equip people so they can ongoing change their world as far as trust is concerned.
So our mission, developing trusted leaders and organizations around the world, we wanna shift thinking around it by, by sharing the research. We want to show the case for trust. We want to give the eight pillar framework. And as you, many of you know, we have a whole lot of tools under each of these eight pillars. How, how, how an ODC and six Cs for contribution and a whole lot of others. So those are some of our tools, uh, and many more that we give access to. We’re with you. We also host the wonderful trusted Leader Summit every year where people come from around the world, senators to CEOs come to that Trusted Leader Summit. Those are some of the things some of you’ve been asking about. What do you do Audi Institute, the research, the events, the ICE process, and a host of other things.
What we really try to do is solve for trust. We want to increase trust in leaders and organizations. When we do that, we think we help people and really our world the most. So on this hundred and 10th episode of the Trusted Leader Show, I wanna say thank you for listening. Thanks for listening to this. You know, what I think is so important, and thank you for sharing this message. Thanks for being ambassadors in your organizations. Thanks for bringing us in. I wanna say thank you to our clients that are listening that, uh, have taken this most important. We think work to their people so we can come alongside you and, uh, do what we’re passionate about and, and, um, what we hope we’re best at. In some ways, I’m totally imperfect at it, but I believe in it more than ever. And so I wanna say thank you to everyone.
And I wanna say one more thing before I get to the last question on Every Trusted Leader show. Before I get there, I’ll say this, we’ve been doing this now 110 episodes and we have some key projects we need to focus on to serve our clients the best. What can you expect coming up? We’ll still be giving loads of new content, even better and new ways we’ll have our trust outlook coming out. Uh, before long we even, we’re working on it today. And so our global study will be coming out in a few months. We are, um, sharpening some things, even some technologies to make how we serve you better, our measurement tools and a host of other things. But because of all those focuses, we’re gonna take a short break on the podcast. So I wanna let you know that ahead of time, we’re taking a little break on the Trusted Leader Show.
We’re focusing on some urgent matters and our core, uh, that we, um, have, are passionate about focusing on. Still, if you’d like me to come and speak or you’d like others, uh, on the institute to serve you, we have margined for that. We’re still measuring trust, we’re making rooms so we can do more of that. And we’re equipping people. Those are our three focuses. But with that, we’re gonna take a little break on the Trusted Leader Show podcast, and we will likely be picking it up again. So you’ll find a lot on all the things I’ve talked about in the show. Notes. Notes as usual@trustedleadershow.com. And you’ll see our other sites, measurement sites and how to get certified if you’re interested in that and other things@trustedge.com. Now, I always end this show with every interview I end with, who is a leader you trust and why?
And I thought I’d tell you something about the commonality. I’ve heard people talk about mentors and parents, spouses and best friends, and I thought it’s interesting to me those, I even thought about it. One of the people I trust the most is my dad. And I often tell a story about him when I’m keying, I talk my, my, my wife who I just trust so much. And we’ve been married this year, just over 25 years. And my best friend Joe, and I’ve talked about other friends and other leaders and colleagues and staff that I trusted, I thought the commonality of all those 110 episodes of what people said, and even who I trust the most. They’re often people that don’t want something from you. They don’t seem to have an ulterior motive. They go in it really, even if they’re sales people, they go in it with really, they believe in this thing and they wanna give you this gift.
They want you to have this so you can do better. They really care about you. And so I thought that was interesting as I thought through all the episodes. Who do people trust the most? Those that genuinely don’t need to take or want to take something, they want to start by giving something. And my mentors, I have a couple board advisors and mentors right now that often quote Zig Ziglar, who said, you can have about anything you want in your life. If you, you know, help others people get what they want or give to them first, there’s some truth in that. For now, this has been the hundred and 10th episode of the Trusted Leader Show. Thank you so much for joining our mission of building trusted leaders and organizations around the world. Until next time, stay trusted.

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