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VUKA Group & The Global Trust Project | Key Tips on Building Trust

By Tinkwe

Harnessing Trust

In an era marked by a global “trust deficit disorder,” as noted by the Secretary General of the United Nations, a collaboration between VUKA Group and The Global Trust Project stands out as a necessary and timely endeavour. Together, they will work with leaders, organisations, governments, and societies to foster a shared understanding of, and leverage, trust as a catalyst for impact.

Trust is the foundation upon which personal, professional, and societal relationships are built. Increasing complexity and uncertainty in the current global landscape has significantly elevated the value of the currency of trust.

There are 60 years of academic research that has gone into validating the benefits of trust. High-trust nations have been found to outperform low-trust nations by about 3000%[1]. The figure for high-trust versus low-trust organisations is around 300%[2]. And high-trust teams are over 100% more energised than those where trust quotients are low[3] – in fact, most well-being indicators are positively impacted by the presence of social trust[4].

Recognising its profound significance, VUKA Group and The Global Trust Project have embarked on a collaborative journey to help enable this vital value in all relationships.

“An example of the correlation between an absence of trust and various societal challenges is South Africa,” notes Dominic Wilhelm, Executive Director of The Global Trust Project. “We very much hope to make a contribution to building trust in South Africa as we believe we have with our clients in the US, Europe and Asia.”

Leveraging Trust for Good

Back in 2018, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that: “The world is suffering its worst case ever of trust deficit disorder.”

“Despite the deficit, and the widespread acknowledgement that it must be addressed, it appears that very few know what trust is,” says Dominic. “Yet trust is one of the deepest leverage points for shaping the kinds of futures we all want.”

“The Global Trust Project works across scales and domains to bring trust back to the table; we partner with leaders, organisations and governments to build a shared understanding of trust, of what matters most, and how to build trust-rich pathways to achieve it.”

The Global Trust Project has worked with the Norwegian government at a senior level on trust reform, with the City of Ithaca in New York State, the United Nations, the Philippines government, with business leaders in West Africa and with Wesgro in the Western Cape.

“We envision using the concept of trust as a force for positive change within various sector ecosystems. By applying an understanding of trust and its value, this collaboration aims to create a positive impact. This may involve initiating projects, forming partnerships, or developing initiatives that leverage trust as a foundation for positive transformation. Our partnership with the Global Trust Project will ensure that knowledge and expertise around the building of trust are made accessible and applicable in 1-to-1, 1-to-few, and 1-to-many relationships,” says David Ashdown, CEO of VUKA Group.

How will this be accomplished?

A multidimensional approach, rooted in trust research, is employed to build trust. “We target multiple levels – from individual personal development and leadership to organisational and societal change. Our strategies address issues like employee disengagement, decision-making problems, and societal challenges such as poverty and political instability, all rooted in a deficit of trust,” Dominic explains. Our actions range from individual interventions to long-term programmes.

These include:

● Trust Building Services: Offering training, coaching, strategy development, and cultural change management.

● Trust Equity Index: Using the Trust Equity Index (TEi) for scientific trust assessment and strategy guidance.

● Inspiration from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Aligning trust-building efforts with human flourishing, economic prosperity and environmental stewardship as described in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To build trust, our Master Class employs a three-phased approach. We work with our client partners to establish a shared understanding of trust in a specific context. Next, we help to identify key priorities, or “what matters most.” Finally, we co-create a trust-rich pathway, integrating theory and strategy into practical operations.

During the third phase, we provide organisational and individual coaching, continuous learning, and the development of the Trust Equity Index (TEi), starting with an online self-assessment tool and progressing to enterprise integration for comprehensive trust analysis and strategic insights.

Regarding expectations for the next year, we anticipate embedding an even deeper understanding of trust within the Group, enhancing trust levels in South African Municipalities through improved service delivery, expanding our work across Europe, America, and Asia, and introducing an enterprise version of the TEi.

The Genesis of a Trust-Based Partnership

Human connection plays a pivotal role in both VUKA Group's approach and The Global Trust Project's mission.

“We are excited to announce our collaboration with The Global Trust Project. Dominic has previously been a keynote speaker at VUKA events; Africa’s Green Economy Summit and Enlit Africa, and this is how the relationship between VUKA Group and The Global Trust Project began,” explains David. “Both parties identified a strong alignment in their values and ambitions, particularly in the realm of trust and it's association to creating influence.”

Human connections are the crucible in which trust is formed, nurtured, and strengthened. This shared belief in the power of human connection is a driving force behind the collaboration. As this partnership gets underway, what was once an intangible future will become one where trust is not only understood but also harnessed for the betterment of all.

Dominic’s key tips on building trust

To put it simply: be true, be considerate and be excellent. Trust is a psychological state that is fostered by perceived trustworthiness, which is anchored in three core qualities: integrity, benevolence, and capability.

When we evaluate whether someone is trustworthy – whether it's a conscious or unconscious process – we look for signs that they act with integrity, demonstrate consideration for others, and possess the necessary skills or knowledge to the job done whatever it may be from being a faithful friend or family member, to running the government or a multinational organisation. The principles apply to us all. The extent to which we recognise these behaviours determines our readiness to trust.

This is foundational to interpersonal relationships, organisational performance, governmental effectiveness, and societal wellbeing. When trust is present, the world flourishes. In its absence, we falter. The Global Trust Project works across scales and domains to bring trust back to the table.

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