Trust Guidelines for CEOs & Board Members

Barbara Kimmel
4 min readMar 20, 2022

By Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Founder Trust Across America-Trust Around the World

I recently published an article titled Twelve Ways to Kill Stakeholder Trust. It explained how “check the box” practices will not fix trust. Why is that? Because trust is interpersonal and starts with your people who do not fit into square boxes. Leaders who are counseled to perform trust work arounds, while calling them trust, should have no expectations of trust improving. In fact, they are elevating organizational risk by failing to commit to being consistently and continuously involved in trust building activities. Said another way, those who choose to delegate expensive box checking activities and treat trust as a soft skill will continue to build on their current trust deficit.

The article concluded with a promise to provide some actionable steps that business leaders can take to elevate trust. I asked some of our Trust Alliance members to provide their suggestions and selected the twelve most actionable responses. They are offered in no particular order. Each action stands alone as a powerful step in elevating trust. Pay careful attention to the words highlighted in bold.

  • I will begin with an internal assessment to determine which behaviors are weakening trust in our workplace. Then I will prioritize the fixes. Trust will sit at the center of my business strategy, modeled by me and practiced and reinforced daily. Barbara Brooks Kimmel
  • I expect and will actively monitor to assure that our words and deeds are aligned across all functions and geographies, and in all our relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, investors, regulators, trade associations and other stakeholders. Barton Alexander
  • I will ensure that employees know what our company’s values are and that all decisions we make at all levels are in accord with those values. Charles Feltman
  • I will stop using the term employees when speaking to or referencing the people within the company. The top-down, power and control implication of an employer-employee relationship harkens back to the industrial revolution labor-management disputes that created the us-versus-them mentality which has undermined trust for generations. We are one–all on the same team. Kevin McCarthy
  • I will lead out in modeling the behavior I expect to see from others, in trusting others as a starting point (until proven otherwise), and in inspiring
Barbara Kimmel

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