Episode 19

How Can Business Leaders Restore Trust in the Age of Distrust?

In our nineteenth episode, our guests discuss the idea of trust in brands and leaders.


Welcoming Our Guests

As the podcast host, Virginie Glaenzer paved the way for this conversation led by John Hagel who will explore the idea what brands and leaders can do to cement trusting relationships to make people feel safe and belong to a group or organization.

John Hagel, has 40 years’ experience in Silicon Valley as a management consultant, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. He has helped companies around the world to improve their performance by crafting creative business strategies that more effectively harness new generations of information technology and shape broader markets and industries. He also designs and implements change management strategies to help companies develop capabilities to drive more rapid performance improvement. Recently retired from Deloitte where he was the founder and chairman of the Silicon Valley-based Deloitte Center for the Edge, he is now running his own independent consulting company to help leaders anticipate the future and address significant emerging opportunities. John is also a faculty member at Singularity University where he gives frequent talks on the mounting performance pressure created by digital technology and promising approaches to help traditional companies make the transition from a linear to an exponential world. John is the author of The Power of Pull, published by Basic Books and summarizing research pursued at the Center for the Edge, making the case that we are struggling as individuals and institutions to adapt to a long-term shift in our business environment that changes the nature of competition. He is also the author of a series of earlier best-selling business books, Net Gain, published in 1997, Net Worth, Out of the Box and The Only Sustainable Edge.

Michelle Holliday is a consultant, facilitator and speaker, as well as author of the book, The Age of Thrivability: Vital Perspectives and Practices for a Better World. Her work centers around “thrivability” — a set of beliefs, intentions and practices based on a view of organizations as living systems. With this understanding, it becomes clear that we can - and must - create the fertile conditions for life to thrive at every level: for individuals, for organizations, for customers, community and biosphere. With a Master’s Degree in International Marketing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Russian Studies, Michelle spent the first part of her career in brand strategy, working internationally for Coca-Cola and H.J. Heinz. The second part of her career focused on employee engagement, consulting for a range of organizations in Washington, DC. More recently, as part of the global Art of Hosting community of practice, she has designed and hosted hundreds of  conversations for clients and the public, from 5 to 500 people. Now, after living in 19 cities, including Moscow, London, Paris, New York and a small town in Scotland, she combines brand strategy, employee and citizen engagement, hosting and more in her home base of Montréal and around the world.

Dan Rockwell is listed in the Top Fifty Leadership and Management Expert and Top 100 Great Leadership Speakers by Inc Magazine and he is the author behind the Leadership Freak blog, which according to the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness, is the most socially shared leadership blog on the Internet. Dan started his career in the nonprofit world and has earned an MBA and undergraduate degrees in Theology, Pastoral Ministry, and Construction and Design. He owned two businesses and served fifteen years as a Workforce Development Consultant for a Penn State University Special Affiliate. In that capacity, he designed courses, hired and mentored instructors, and delivered hundreds of presentations for local, regional, and global organizations. Today, Dan coaches leaders, consults with organizations, and delivers corporate and community presentations.


A growing number of surveys around the world highlight the continued erosion of trust in our major institutions. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that only 48% of the U.S. population trusts business as an institution.


This crisis in consumer trust directly impacts brands, which are one of the leading factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Why? Brand trust drives loyalty.

We ought to recognize that brand distrust has created emotional wounds and institutions will have to earn back the trust of their customers by showing vulnerability.

It might require brands to demonstrate their willingness through authentic actions and letting go of their control to allow customers to embrace a brand story, make it their own, and achieve a sense of belonging.


In the future, profits will depend more and more on creating thriving communities where individuals can also flourish.


Finally, for a brand to re-establish trust today, two distinct attributes are required:

  1. Competence - delivering on their promise

  2. Ethical behavior - doing the right thing to improve society

As marketers, we invite leaders and brand managers to rethink their clients’ customer relationships and focus on pull-based marketing strategies that promote trust and loyalty.


To dive deeper on some of our panel’s work, we recommend Michelle’s post on shifting from mission-statements to mission-questions as well as John’s articles on Business Models and Trust, and Re-building Trust in Institutions.


You can also rewatch our Pass the Mic episode on Ethical Leadership.


Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Takeaways

Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Takeaways
Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Takeaways

Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Takeaways

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Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Shifting from a Knowing Organization to a Learning Organization

Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Shifting from a Knowing Organization to a Learning Organization

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Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Introduction: Meet the panel

Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # Introduction: Meet the panel

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Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # How Can Business Leaders Restore Trust in the Age of Distrust?

Brand Trust - Ep. 19 # How Can Business Leaders Restore Trust in the Age of Distrust?

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John Hagel


Michelle Holliday


Dan Rockwell