A key element of trustworthiness is consistency over time. The best way to be consistent is to know your values and act in concert with those values. If the leader or leaders are not clear about what their values are and what values they want to emphasize within the organization, they are likely to send out mixed messages to the rest of the organization.
Subordinates pay attention to what leaders say and do. When the message changes, or more importantly, when the message stays the same and the leader’s actions are not consistent with that message, trust is destroyed. One of the key factors noted in Ford’s recent success as compared to General Motors’s and Chrysler’s struggles was described as “talking the walk, and walking the talk.” 1 In other words, Ford executives were able to build up more trust with their employees than executives at the other Detroit firms. Knowing your values and acting consistently with them is harder to do than one would think, but building trust in the absence of consistency between espoused and enacted values is virtually impossible.