Integrity is key to building trust


The concept of integrity is pretty simple; being honest, sincere and having strong moral principles. It’s a quality we all value.

And when it comes to our institutions, whether they be in the political, corporate or local sphere, it’s a quality we expect and even demand. It’s the critical ingredient in building trust.

Many agree that in recent times our institutions have lost the public’s trust. And much of this is down to a perceived lack of integrity. No more so than in the political sphere, both in Australia and around the world. Much of the depressing murmurs around dual citizenship in the Upper and Lower Houses in Australia has further hampered the public’s faith in our political institutions.

It could be argued this ‘anti-establishment’ movement is borne out of a perceived deficit of three core qualities – integrity, dependability and competence.

In fact, integrity ranked overwhelmingly as the key driver of reputation in our recent study into reputation and risk, Reputation Reality. More than half of senior leaders surveyed indicated that integrity is the key driver of reputation, followed by competence.

So, what can organisations do to build their reputations with integrity at the core?

Shared principles: exploring stakeholder expectations via an analysis of the landscape. This allows you to map any gaps and identify common causes to build on. Having open and honest stakeholder relationships is a great building block for a strong reputation.

Story: it is important to build a strong voice and share the narrative consistently, backing it up with actions. Authenticity, accountability and respect are themes organisations can explore to build trust.

Support & structure: reputation management must be consistent and coordinated, and is often led from the top. Building the reputations of senior people within organisations as trustworthy and ‘real’ can help to not only increase their personal reputation, but the organisation by association.

Skills: success depends on having the right capabilities in place to execute plans, engage stakeholders and manage issues. Employees should live the company values and ‘sing from the same song book’. Understanding how employees think and feel about their organisation can be a good barometer for measuring external perceptions.

Systems: ensure there are appropriate communication systems in place to inform, listen to and involve stakeholders as well as demonstrate leadership. Listening to stakeholders and addressing their concerns proactively can build reputation as well as reduce the risk of a crisis occurring.

Leadership and rigour: clarify roles and responsibilities, tracking and monitoring beliefs and activities.

Click here to see Darren discuss the role of integrity as a key driver of reputation.