Executive Summit 2022: Cultivating Trust Through Leadership

Over the last two years, we have experienced the world through different lenses as our professional and personal lives have been impacted.  The saying “the one thing that’s constant is change” has never felt more applicable.  

At the annual Consortium Executive Summit in March 2022, 35 leaders came together to explore trust as a major factor in both the success of organizations and individual leadership style.  For years now, Consortium Members have been thinking about leadership in adaptive organizations; what does it look like when we think about our organizations as a network of talented, capable people, instead of a hierarchy to be climbed and controlled?  How do we show up as leaders regardless of level or title, and invite others to do the same? A few approaches and perspectives resonated from previous Consortium conversations on these topics:

  • Our prosperity is not dependent on others’ failures – the more we share and cooperate, the more we have. We are in a non zero-sum game.
  • Relationships are more important than rules.  While processes can be helpful as a guide,  we should do what makes sense for the situation at hand.  People are capable of making good decisions if provided with the right information and environment to succeed.
  • Treat people as people first – focusing on the distinction of the role people are playing (employee, customer, partner, stockholder) is often not helpful.

When thinking about these ideas and the current leadership challenges being faced, the foundational element of trust is more important than ever.  If we do not have trust in each other, how can we possibly succeed or hope to help others succeed? 

Before we convened, we shared the McKinsey article A military veteran knows why your employees are leaving which provided some food for thought and a different perspective on The Great Resignation, and was referenced often during the Summit.

Executive Summit 2022 Attendees

Over the three days of the Executive Summit, four leaders guided our discussions while sharing their insights and experiences.

Day 1 –  Leadership Mindset

Jerry Michalski and Brad Smith shared a wide lens on trust, the current state of trust, ways to define trust, and how to ensure it is at the front of our minds as leaders.


  • Failure of leadership makes distrust the default (Edelman Trust Barometer – 2022). People are looking to work in an environment that supports their values and beliefs.  As leaders, we make a big impact by demonstrating, living, and building the environment that supports our beliefs and values.  However, do organizations and leaders even know what beliefs and values teams are looking for?
  • Trust is foundational, specific, and emergent.
  • Jerry shared the equation Scarcity = Abundance – Trust.  This is a great barometer to use when designing new measures, processes, working practices, coaching programs, and so much more.  
  • ‘Design From Trust’ is different than ‘Design For Trust’. This distinction seems to get overlooked as we build products, services, organizations, goals, processes, and how we engage each other.

Day 2 – Reactivity Loop

Caitlin Frost guided us through an interactive exploration about personal leadership based on three scenarios:  

  1. Think of a person whose leadership cultivated trust in a challenging, complex situation. What qualities did you observe?
  2. Think of a challenging situation where you offered leadership that cultivated trust in some way. What qualities did you display?
  3. Think of a challenging situation where you offered that diminished trust in some way. What qualities did you display?

With these scenarios in mind, Catlin talked us through the “Reactivity Loop” to help uncover how our reactions in certain situations amplifies stress, reinforces limiting beliefs, and polarizes our thinking.  This sparked discussion about techniques to identify and how to break yourself from the ‘loop’.  

Reactivity loop

Day 3 – Coaching Towards a Trust Network

Laurel Poertner focused our lens on how a strong coaching program at F5 has helped build an environment where people are more engaged, want to learn, and help enable a trusting network. F5 has demonstrated that coaching teaches better habits, with measurable results, and is using their coaching program to nurture a culture of belonging while they navigate the complexities of a hybrid workforce. 

The level at which an organization is collaborative, supportive of each other, and ultimately being successful is directly related to the level of trust in the organization.  As leaders, regardless of title, we all play a role in building a trust network.

Consortium Members can find notes, resources, and decks from Executive Summit 2022 on the wiki. Contact us for access.

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