keynote speaker Robert Phillips blog article

Keynote Speaker Robert Phillips: The truth about trust

An expert in public leadership, communication and trust, Robert Phillips explores how leadership can create a “crisis of trust”. As the former Chief Executive of the world’s largest public relations firm, and now a proponent of trust and accountability, Robert aims to address the crisis of leadership that many organisations find themselves in…

“The much talked-about ``crisis of trust``, argues Robert Phillips, is mostly myth. The real crisis is one of leadership – the product of a lack of moral courage and decades of imaginative failure.”

Robert Phillips goes on to share the empirical evidence of this. Our distrust of politicians, journalists and big businesses has been unwavering over the past 50 years. However the rise of reviews, the sharing economy and peer-to-peer trust has seen a new trust in strangers develop throughout society.

And there is good reason for our lack of trust in politicians, business leaders and the media. Whilst trust is said to be top of their agendas – they simply use it as a buzz word rather than something that they actually substantiate. Their energies, says Robert, would be better spent imagining and building a fairer, more inclusive and better society, instead of always looking for something or someone to blame, using “trust” as the proxy.

We shouldn’t belittle the importance of trust, though. It remains society’s currency in so many ways. But to say we don’t trust banks when we all still have bank accounts is clearly nonsense.

And there is good reason for our lack of trust in politicians, business leaders and the media. Whilst trust is said to be top of their agendas – they simply use it as a buzz word rather than something that they actually substantiate. Their energies, says Robert, would be better spent imagining and building a fairer, more inclusive and better society, instead of always looking for something or someone to blame, using “trust” as the proxy.

Phillips goes on to discuss the unquestionably disruptive times that we find ourselves in: “None of us should be surprised where we find ourselves now and the volatility will continue for some time yet – especially as younger, more activist, generations enter the workplace.”

“Meanwhile, we should understand that greater trustworthiness is more important (and more personal) than “more trust” anyway. It’s a vital distinction – central to understanding both the crisis and its resolution. Finally, we need to learn to communicate differently and better and more honestly, rooted in what we do, not what we say. Truth and trustworthiness are two sides of the same coin; the fight for truth is very real in a complex digital age.”

To read the blog post in full, click here.

More about Keynote Speaker Robert Phillips

Robert is the author of the controversially titled ‘Trust Me, PR is Dead’. Phillips was previously UK and EMEA Chief Executive of Edelman, the world’s largest Public Relations firm (where he contributed to the annual Trust Barometer) and Global Chair of its Public Engagement & Future Strategies group.

He is the co-founder of Jericho Chambers and convenor of new coalitions on subjects as diverse as Public Leadership, Responsible Tax and the Future of Work.

In a world of no- or low-trust, Robert advocates embracing chaos and relinquishing control; he champions new working principles of activism and accountability, co-production, vulnerability and dissent. Turning Business School orthodoxy on its head, Robert’s radical approach mitigates risk, builds engagement and ultimately addresses the crisis of leadership.

Phillips specialises in understanding and building trust, which he asserts is both complex and fragile. He believes trustworthiness is more important than trust itself – but there isn’t a simple formula to build it, nor a magic wand to restore it. Leaders must think and behave differently if their own leadership, corporations and brands are to be trusted.

Phillips believes that the old models of PR are no longer fit for purpose in an activist and asymmetrical society. Radical honesty and radical transparency triumph in a world where spin is not only dead, but dangerous.

keynote speaker robert phillips

To read more about Robert Phillips, click here.

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