9 Keys to Driving Trust for Brand Leadership

The GIBS Ethics and Governance think tank hosted a forum with a panel of top South African business leaders namely:

  • Nhlanhla Musa Nene – Former Minister of Finance, South Africa
  • Laurie Dippenaar – Founder and Chairman of FirstRand Group
  • Zyda Rylands – CEO of Woolworths South Africa
  • Lynn Paine – Harvard Business School Professor and Senior Associate Dean
  • Nicola Kleyn – Dean of GIBS (Business School)

The leadership panel discussion topic “Driving trust:The new competitive differentiator in business” highlighted these 9 keys to business brand leadership success:

  1. Values over rules:  Values are more important than rules. Equip people with shared values to guide them rather than a rule book and then the reward of a good value system, will be trust.
  2. The trust value chain: A business that is built on a value system, understands that it starts even at the recruitment phase, making sure to hire people with the shared values. The alignment must happen in recruitment, training and the rewards.
  3. Trust journey: Trust should be seen as a continual journey, not a once off event. It is about how you, as a leader, communicate trust in every step of the journey. ‘Driving trust’ is not a once off program but it is what happens every day in each role over time.
  4. Leaders drive trust: Leaders need to initiate the process of trust and then allow for teams to execute this message, but also understand that it is an eco-system, with collective accountability.
  5. Trust is more than words: Trust is not built with words but in the behaviours of each person in the business.
  6. Practice makes progress: Practical application is what drives trust and it is through consistent practice, that the results can be seen. Practice hosting conversations that are complex/difficult, this increases creativity and innovation as it forces leaders to think of better solutions, when faced with making complex decisions, to prevent conflicts of the shared value system.
  7. Guide decisions: Create a framework for decision making until the values in the decision making process are internalised, for sustainability.
  8. Leaders set the tone: Leaders set the tone for the behaviour, environment and culture. By allowing behaviours that are not aligned to shared values, to “slide” once or twice, can become the norm and lead to challenges or damage to the brand reputation.
  9. Leaders actions are amplified: Leaders send signals (communicate and reward what is valued) with their actions and these actions will be interpreted and amplified by the people.

Ultimately, leaders hold the responsibility for driving trust and need to be clear on what the brand stands for and how this is communicated.

To ‘Lead Your Brand’ and to build an authentic brand requires aligning the purpose of the business to the promise of business, and creating a message of value for all stakeholders.