Three Ways Leaders Can Build International Trust

By Harvard Business Review
May 21, 2019

Here are some methods to strengthen your bonds when working across borders or oceans.

If you are a leader responsible for conducting business in other parts of the world, it’s time to accept that the rules have changed. You can no longer assume that people from other cultures will automatically trust you and your organization to provide the services or products you have to offer.

Here are three things leaders can do to strengthen trust across borders:

Leverage your personal credibility: People are often willing to trust you if they believe there are advantages in doing so. To get there, decode the methods your stakeholders use to determine who is and who is not worthy of their trust. Some look for depth of competence; others seek character traits like honesty or compassion. Many even find comfort in conducting business with people who remind them of themselves.

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Know what matters to your stakeholders: Local stakeholders usually hold opinions of you and the type of business you run that will determine the degree of trust they extend or withhold. Understanding their perspectives will allow you to better prepare for doing business with them. In developing regions, where trust may be weaker, improving quality of life and creating economic prosperity for future generations may be more prevalent concerns than in developed nations. You need to know what your stakeholders want and adapt your agendas accordingly.

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Keep messages consistent: In today’s hyperconnected world, inconsistencies can be damaging. The messages on your website and the general information you share with the public must be consistent. As a leader conducting global business, you must recognize that everything you say and do will be scrutinized for accuracy and consistency.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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