On 16 May 2017 the Oslo Business for Peace Award Ceremony took place in the Norwegian capital. The Business for Peace Foundation was established with a vision that the purpose of all business leaders is to improve society, i.e. be #businessworthy, which means they must ethically and responsibly create economic value whilst creating value for society. The Oslo Business for Peace Award aims to be the highest form of recognition given by society to individual business leaders for outstanding #businessworthy accomplishments.
It was a great event with a line-up of wonderful speakers including Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Prime Minister of Norway and a hugely popular lady given the round of applause she received. In the 1980s Gro received international recognition for being the Chair of the World Commission of Environment and Development, which was behind the report 'Our Common Future' and the definition of sustainable development. What jumped out at me most from her speech was her statement about 'trust equalling success' and that this trust is something that is earned and can't be bought.
This can be applied across the professional and personal spectrum. In business we need to be able to trust that the people we hire can be trusted to do what they're employed to do, and as leaders our teams need to be able to trust that we'll fulfil our promises and obligations. We need to trust that clients will pay us in full and on time and clients need to trust that they'll receive a product or service that they're more than happy with. As entrepreneurs we have to trust in our ideas and to have so much faith that we're able to persuade investors to invest and in some cases even have people work with us on a promise of future income and/or equity in a successful business. In our personal lives, any relationship where there's a lack of trust – whether family, friends or intimate – will never run smoothly. A lack of trust creates doubt, and doubt creates barriers.
If trust, like respect, is earned and can't be bought how can we earn that trust? One simple way is with action. Words are empty unless they're backed with action. So if you say you're going to do something for someone, do it. Otherwise don't say you'll do it. Even if it's a small thing like 'I'll call you in 10 minutes'. If you can't keep that 'promise' you should let the waiting person know somehow, as after all, you don't know what they've had to change in their schedule to wait 10 minutes for your call. And if you can't keep your word with the 'small things' it doesn't build any trust in keeping your word for the 'big things' and that equals a lack trust, credibility or respect.
None of us are perfect and I know I've said 'I'll call you later', and then I've become so immersed in my own world that I forgot to deliver on what was ultimately a promise I made. It might not be the end of the world, but following through on what we say we'll do not only builds trust and credibility, it also makes us feel better for having kept a promise. It's about integrity, and credible leaders need to display integrity at all times to build trust. Gro's words were an excellent reminder of this on a macro and a micro level.
The 2017 Business for Peace Awards went to four very successful – and therefore trustworthy – individuals:
Durreen Shahnaz is the founder of Impact Investment Exchange, which has positively impacted 10 million lives to date and is the world's first stock exchange dedicated to Social Enterprises, mobilising capital for development and empowerment of stakeholders.
Murad Al-Katib is President and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients Inc, which today provides a quarter of the world's lentil supply and the organisation has helped four million refugee families from Syria.
Harley Seyedin has been instrumental in opening up South China to foreign investment where he has built a multinational electricity and low carbon infrastructure development business. He is currently President of Allelon Engery Partners.
Elon Musk of Tesla fame was honoured for his work in accelerating the world's transition to sustainable energy.
Trust = Success = #businessworthy