Helen Green

A Game of Hearts and Minds

We have broken the trust of our customers, dealerships, employees as well as the public and the regulators.”

Giving evidence before a US House of Representatives committee, the Chief Executive of Volkswagen in America, Michael Horn, offered a ‘sincere apology’ for the car manufacturer installing ‘defeat devices’ in some VW diesel cars. Whilst no doubt there is still some way to go before the full truth will be known, Mr Horn’s comments in respect of trust go right to the heart of the problem.

When people buy products and services, when people decide to work for a company they do so trusting that the organisation will in turn do its best by them. We regularly comment that leadership is an affair of hearts and minds. It’s no idle comment. When you engage hearts and minds, when people trust your vision then they will do their best to translate that vision into outstanding experiences and results.

Whether you talk about financial services mis-selling, the incorrect labelling of food products, installing devices to cheat emissions tests or any one of the other scandals which has hit business in recent years, they all have the same outcome: the loss of trust. It’s easy for leaders to order surface reparations, to reprogram the software or re-label the product. In many cases that can be done quite quickly, albeit at a price. But the rebuilding of trust, that is not so easy to achieve.