Most Business Leaders are Delusional About Trust

Barbara Kimmel
3 min readJun 19, 2022

Why is it that trust, particularly in business appears to be stagnating at best? The answer is very simple. The majority of leaders do nothing to elevate trust with their most valuable stakeholders, their employees. Most ignore the simple fact that internal trust is generally low, and even fewer show any willingness to formally assess and address it. The fallout from the pandemic has certainly exposed low trust as a significant impediment to employee retention and engagement, yet costly trust work arounds including brand trust, customer trust, digital trust, etc. remain the substitute “flavor of the day.” After all, they pose much less of a threat than addressing the elephant in the room. They also have proven to be relatively ineffective.

Trust Across America-Trust Around the World (TAA-TAW) is one of only a handful of organizations that goes inside businesses to exclusively evaluate the level of trust between leadership teams and employees. And since trust is alway interpersonal, anything short of an internal evaluation will get an organization nowhere in elevating trust.

Many articles written about trust cite results from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, yet almost every one of these mentions fails to distinguish between external perception of trust or public opinion surveys (Edelman) and internal assessments (TAA-TAW), further compounding confusion about what trust is and what it is not. Public opinion surveys may provide great talking points but offer no actionable solutions that only an internal assessment (TAA-TAW) can deliver.

The two charts below are real TAA-TAW results from the same assessment of two groups within the same company. The first is the leadership view of trust within their organization and the second is the employee view. Both are asked the identical question.



As the charts above clearly show, leadership believes that the behaviors that elevate trust within their organization are much better/higher than what their employees believe, and sadly these charts are not…

Barbara Kimmel

Founder Trust Across America-Trust Around the World. Author of Award Winning TRUST Inc. series