Guest blog: Accelerating Impact Requires Trust. Here’s How to Scale It.


Guest blog by Dominic Wilhelm: Dominic works with leaders to shape better futures. He has worked with the largest business networks in the world and is currently working on an intuitive to “scale trust, accelerate impact toward 2030” globally.
Recent conversations I had with changemakers including UN Ambassador Marc-Andre BlanchardMinh-Thu PhamSimon Preston and Brian Brault drove home the point that trust is essential for progress toward impact.
And by 'impact', we mean those actions that take us closer to better social, environmental and economic futures as captivatingly outlined by the UN's 2030 Agenda;
"We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet. We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind." Agenda 2030.
If trust is a vital ingredient to achieving this kind of future, an obvious question arises (one with important implications for the efforts we take to build better futures);
“How can trust be scaled to accelerate impact?”
In other words, trust across public and private sectors and industries. Trust to inspire deeper levels of transparency, innovation and positive disruption. Trust to further ignite business to steward this unique time in history where the most trusted relationship in the world is “with my employer” according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.
“My Employer” widely trusted: People hold more trust in “My Employer” than in any single institution, with trust levels at 75% globally—19 points more than business in general and 27 points more than government.” Edelmen Trust Barometer.
This is at the heart of the UN's efforts to better enable ramped up efforts ahead of 2030. And let’s not forget that, through a miracle of global collaboration, the UN took 43 years to formulate and agree on 17 shared goals – an extraordinary feat. But we need to move faster as the UN would be first to agree.
The Power of Dialogue Done Well.
Changemakers also share the view that one of the ‘deepest’ leverage points for impact involves understanding, appreciating and engaging others’ ‘mental models’ - those deeply held perspectives, value systems, beliefs and ideas about the world and the future we share.
Mental models are a powerful leverage point as they give rise to the world around us through the actions we take. The way we attempt to bring order to the world through policymaking, structure and governance, as well as our personal and professional lives. And herein lies the power of dialogue to scale impact.
Going Below the Surface.
Delving below the surface to discover these mental models requires vulnerability which is not possible without trust. We must feel safe when letting others into our inner world. And doing dialogue well – in more effective and scalable ways to engage mental models - is a powerful way to enable trust. The better the dialogue, the stronger the trust.
And here’s the kicker. What if, when trust is brought into the room, when we know that all interests are being taken to heart, we inject the SDGs or other interrelated frameworks such as UNGC's 10 principles into the conversation to translate that trust into measurable action?
That’s when scaled trust can lead to accelerated action.
Changemakers on the Power of Dialogue.
Also according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, CEOs are expected to lead the charge for impact:
76% [of employees] say CEOs should take the lead on change, rather than waiting for government to impose it...People agree that CEOs can create positive change on issues ranging from pay equity (65%) to prejudice and discrimination (64%) to training for the jobs of tomorrow (64%).
It's therefore no surprise that the following changemakers, some of whom have lead the largest and most powerful business networks in the world, get the connection between trust and impact:
"…‘dialogue’, and its ability to create trust…to be human, is visionary and insightful.” Brian BraultEO Global Chair 2017/18, Former Global EO Forum Chair.
"Cultivating trust in a way that leverages action is the critical connection…an intimate and uniquely structured 'dialogue' approach can play a key role.” Simon Preston, CEO RISE BeyondYPO Chair 2009/10.
"The common denominator to sustained impact no matter the sector or industry, is the ability for actors to build trust." Natalie Africa, International development consultant, former Senior Director, United Nations Foundation.
“During my 20+ years working in the sustainability space globally, I've witnessed how trust can accelerate action.” Felix Dodds, Writer, Sustainable Development Consultant, Adjunct Professor Environmental Science Engineering, University North Carolina
"We all know from experience that we can only build a better future with relationships based on trust." Paula Allen, Hayne Royal Commission (Australia), consultant to the UN.
"With trust, challenge, candor and compassion, a dialogue approach explores areas that are simply not possible in any other way.” Randall Zindler, former CEO Medair, B.Corp Consultant, former YPO Social Engagement Network (SEN) Chair.
"Trust, awareness and actions are needed to scale impact towards 2030." Florian KemmerichBamboo Capital Partners, YPO Gold Alpine.
Here's to scaling trust for better futures.

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