In Leaders Worth Following I wrote, “in times of trouble, true leaders provide both comfort and challenge…. They blend head and heart to be trustworthy, courageous, and authentic – to take care of their people and walk together toward a compelling purpose.”
I’d like to emphasize the power of that purpose – it builds trust. Not just internally, but externally as well. Leaders with purpose, who build organizations with purpose, have a unique level of transparency and direction: Their work is FOR something, and people can see and feel that.
Take Triodos, an alternative bank in Netherlands and branches in Spain and Britain, which invests in green, social, and cultural projects. They have a clear, compelling mission that they live. In times of challenge while most banks are struggling, Triodos experienced a five times increase in deposits last month.
Managing director Oliver Marquet’s explanation is they are clear about what and why they do: “Transparency is absolutely key and explains why we hold on well in crisis.” I suspect the transparency is driven by that clear purpose – one that also creates optimism and hope for employees and customers.
The article in Reuters today “Ethical banks win new customers” also gives the example of the Ecology Building Society in UK, whose deposits are doubling. The bottom line: these small, purpose-driven organizations are more trustworthy because they care.