Belief and trust is of growing importance in the world of business. Authenticity and transparency are key drivers in client development. Long gone are the days of nickel and diming, as well as developing client reliance on your services or maximizing profit through unethical economics. In an era of social purpose and social enterprise, transparency and activism have combined to create a business equation around fulfillment. Fulfillment happens through meaningful work, striving toward betterment for others, and true generosity. Taking this approach to business and to clients is driving industries to change how they do business; whether through corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, or ethical consumerism, decision-making based on ethical economics is here to stay.
A large part of this equation is comprised of trust; trusting a company, trusting your collaborators, trusting the supply chain, etc. But the question is: How to develop that trust? How to get your clients, collaborators, team mates, to see you are authentic and ultimately trustworthy?
Most of it revolves around actually being authentic…
Sounds like a conundrum right?
In a product-based company, most of this can be accomplished through transparency and third party validators. Either utilizing or even creating a validation process that certifies a product is made in an ethical fashion, (GoodWeave is a great example), or that a product is even recycled/destroyed in an ethical fashion, (ex: e-Stewards for the Electronics Recycling industry). Based in transparency and stringent documentation, third party validators bring credibility, trust, and authenticity to a product and therefore helping to bring those characteristics to a company manufacturing, producing, selling, or recycling a product.
Service based industries have a more difficult time….
Developing trust with other people who are paying for your time, paying for your service or opinion, entrusting their business with you can be difficult. We are human after all and our first response isn’t to always be trustful with others, especially when it comes to something as dear as our own business.
As an individual and a business owner, it is important to me to empower my clients and to educate them, not just on the services I provide, but how we do what we do; giving them the tools we use. I want them to fully understand our process, learning along the way, developing the trust needed so that they feel confident in executing after we are gone. This doesn’t mean they don’t return as clients, it means that they trust us even more with new projects, knowing we will take a special focus to teach them more along the new path. It also means that along the way, we develop a belief system founded on trust. We don’t just get them to believe by showing them, we develop trust by including them in our process, just like they include us in theirs.
Take Jean Francois Gravelet also known as “Charles Blondin,” for example.
A French tightrope walker who is best known for his numerous breathtaking tightrope walks above Niagara Falls. His most notable performances included crossing the tightrope with his eyes blindfolded, crossing on stilts and once he even had stopped halfway to cook and eat an omelet.
In one of his Niagara Falls exhibitions he decided to push a wheelbarrow over the tightrope, he performed it over the eyes of more than a thousand petrified individuals and like all the other previous treks, the wheelbarrow crossing was successful and greatly applauded.
After the feat, he told the crowd “I will cross again going to the other side, but this time I will carry a man on the wheelbarrow”. He then asks them, “Who among you believe I can do it?!!”
The crowd shouted and cheered affirmations.
They all believed in him.
Then Blondin said “Now, if you believe I can do it, who among you will volunteer to ride the wheelbarrow. Anyone please raise your hand?”
Everyone was silent; nobody among the thousands who believed raised their hand.
The difference between the crowd and the one who rides the wheelbarrow is the difference between belief and trust. Cheering with the crowd is believing, while riding in the wheelbarrow is trusting.
It is also the man in the wheelbarrow who is included in the process…granted we try to get those individuals involved before we even attempt to tightrope walk with them, but the moral is still the same.
Inclusion is not just a token of diversity and acceptance, as how it is often portrayed to us; inclusion also builds trust, belief, and understanding among parties, business or otherwise. There is value in inclusion, value built around a process.