Lead with vision – Build real trust – Annihilate anxiety – Repeat
The numbers are all up, but nobody believes them. U.S. economic news looks better than it has for years, but a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll (in August 2014) found “widespread economic anxiety” at “record levels.”
The devastating Great Recession scarred millions, leading to stubborn pessimism and what the WSJ said were “record levels of anxiety.”
Can we combat this? Can we be victorious?
Absolutely! The issue at hand is this: stable, long-rock-solid, credible leadership that builds lasting trust.
Consider this: in a thriving commercial marketplace, trust reflects perceptions, belief and action. When people, corporations and governments speak the truth and then back it up with living action, a high degree of trust emerges. When trust reigns, things happen. Deals get done. People invest money. Banks make loans. If people believe that what they’re buying has high value, cost is not an issue.
So what do leaders need to know to achieve strategic and lasting levels of real trust? Let’s consider some key pivot points.
“Money, again, has often been a cause of the delusion of multitudes,” opined one author, adding about financial crises that “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”
Words from a gold-plated Wall Street analyst commenting on the recent market turmoil? No, these words were penned more than 150 years ago in the classic work Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
Cited by Forbes magazine, the classic tome on money madness and human dynamics run riot was first published in London in 1841. Legendary financier Bernard Baruch credited an early reading of the book as saving his fortune in the Great Crash of 1929, and Andrew Tobias said in a 1979 foreword “If you read no more of this book than the first hundred pages – on money mania – it will be worth many times its purchase.”
Great hindsight now, but what can we learn from this?
The 1841 work by Charles Mackay was widely quoted in the aftermath of the Dot-Com venture capital debacle of 2001, and has already reappeared in behavioral analyses, economic textbooks and learned presentations about the turbulent years of 2008-2009.
From the 1636 financial insanity where tulip bulbs were listed on the Stock Exchange of Amsterdam to the present day, unchecked greed remains responsible for the destructive aftermath of such money manias. That, as is evident in the recent Wall Street Journal coverage, creates uncertainty and destroys trust.
So, how do we truly recover? Who will lead us? If Mackay was right and humans “go mad in herds,” how can we be first among those who “recover their senses” in the latter half of the decade and break free from the herd?
Here’s an invitation to reflect on, make a commitment for, and start leading, based on a simple phrase: restore trust. This means you.
“Technique and technology are important, but adding trust is the issue of the decade,” said business visionary Tom Peters a few years ago, perhaps not fully realizing how true his words would ring today.
Marketing professionals talk nearly endlessly about brand building and brand development, but the core truth remains: a brand simply represents a promise. Consumers trust a brand to fulfill that promise. When that brand promise is broken or bruised, it requires considerable amounts of time, energy – and yes – money to restore that trust and that brand.
Want proof? How strong do you think the once venerated Lehman Brothers financial brand is today? Enron and Worldcom once represented mighty brands that were feared by their competitors. Where are they in the annuals of history?
So back to today. Want to break loose from the herd? Remember this maxim: every company and every person has a brand, whether they want one or not.
Wondering who is going to lead? Look in the mirror! Be first to come to your senses, start leading, start motivating, and rebuild or strengthen your corporate or personal brand! Be accountable. Do what you say. Deliver on your promises of trust.
As Patricia Aburdene, author of the updated Megatrends book, aptly put it, “Greed destroys wealth. Trust and integrity, by contrast, foster prosperity.”
So if you’ve read this far, don’t wait to buy in. When you look up from reading, what single thing are you going to do right now to restore trust and be among the first to foster prosperity for yourself, your company and the people around you? How are you going to lead?
Lead with vision – Build real trust – Annihilate anxiety – Repeat.
The time to restore trust is now. No more excuses! Start leading! Break out of the herd and be among the first.
By Michael Snyder, Managing Principal, The MEK Group
About Michael Snyder and The MEK Group – As the Indianapolis Star stated in 2014 profile coverage, “Michael Snyder knows brands.” Snyder today serves as managing principal of The MEK Group, an award-winning marketing, branding and PR consultancy. For more information, please visit www.themekgroup.com