Trust, Inc.: A book review by Bob Morris

Trust Inc (Russell)Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation
Nan Russell
Career Press (2014)

How to establish, nourish, and sustain a culture based on mutual trust

It is no coincidence that many (if not most) of the companies annual ranked each year among those that are most highly admired and best to work for and also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their competitive marketplace. However different these companies may be in most respects, the culture in each is one of mutual respect, based on traditional values with a shared commitment to superior service.

I am among those who view trust as the “glue” that enables any organization — whatever its size and nature may be — to establish a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. Nan Russell is well-aware of all the problems that have developed and continue to exist in the workplace, such as employee disengagement, talent attrition, misalignment of strategy with operations, toxic leadership, and what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Her focus in this volume is on what must be done to solve those and other problems and she also shares her thoughts about how to do that.

For example, in Part I (Chapters 1-5), Russell provides information, insights, and counsel with regard to how specific initiatives can help her reader to create a “trust pocket,” engage the disengaged, earn and remain worthy of others’ trust, trust others, enable personal as well as team accountability, and expedite innovative collaboration. In Part II, she focuses on how to “spark trust” with the five essentials (best revealed within the narrative, in context) and then in Part III, she shifts her attention to what she characterizes as “The Challenge of Trust.” Actually, there are several challenges: earning trust, sustaining trust, and if lost, regaining it. In each instance, the key consideration is authenticity.

My own experience is that unless and until a person trusts herself or himself, it will be very difficult to trust anyone else. For example, the most cynical people I know question others’ motives but are unwilling and/or unable to question their own. In many situations, in the absence of certainty, it take great courage to have faith; in a word, to trust. Russell devotes an entire chapter to these and other issue, stressing the importance of being persistent when there are obstacles or setbacks, of thinking independently rather than agreeing with what “they say,” of revisiting trust regularly to ensure that it remains authentic, and the courage of taking the lead when an action needs to be taken.

This is a remarkably thoughtful and thought-provoking book that I recommend highly to anyone old enough to read it and bright enough to understand it. Trust is at least as important in school classrooms as it is in the workplace. Nan Russell has as much of value to share with parents as she does with C-level executives.

It will be of greatest benefit, I suspect, to leaders in organizations that are determined (as this book’s subtitle describes it) to “ignite passion, engagement, and innovation” at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. When undertaking to achieve that worthy objective, however, they need to keep in mind that it is impossible to ignite anything with wet matches.

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