Given the reciprocal imposing of tariffs on US goods and services by the EU and China, the news that Harley Davidson is shifting some of its production from its Wisconsin facility to other facilities outside of the US is no great surprise.
President Trump tweeted his disappointment in their approach stating that he was ‘Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag.’ He went on to say ‘I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U.’
The current ‘game’ being played by the US President is one which is slowing down trade between nations through a ‘Tax on Trust.’
In his book ‘The Speed of Trust’, Steven M.R.Covey states that ‘the ability to establish, grow, extend and restore trust is not only vital to our personal and interpersonal well-being, it is the key leadership competency of the new global economy.’
He goes on to state ‘the dividends [of trust] are not just in increased [transaction] speed and improved economics, they are also in greater enjoyment and better quality of life’.
The issue of trust is one that touches every aspect of our lives. In our relationships with spouse, children, family members, friends and colleagues in the workplace, without trust, we are hesitant to engage with others at a personal and business level.
Covey goes on in his book to break down this trust to two key components: one of character and the other of capability.
From a character standpoint he states that trust is built when we act with integrity and our intent is good.
On the capability side he argues that this is a function of our knowledge, skills, behaviours and how we use the to deliver results.
Others talk about the 3Cs of Trust: credibility, consideration and consistency.
However you evaluate it, trust is clearly a key factor in accelerating the likelihood of working together. What we are experiencing in the raising of tarifffs and the UK separation from Europe is a breakdown of trust and; therefore, a slowing down of the global economy through the Trust Tax.
US Trade Tariffs, Brexit, alleged Russian interference in political campaigns and Cyber Security issues all result in a Trust tax.
Likewise we see trust taxes within organisations where there is blame culture, resulting in a lack of empowerment and need for everyone to be in the details of everything.
Leaders and managers find themselves reading every email in case they have missed out some key information that they might be caught out with. Meetings are over-populated as employees fear for the consequences of a lack of knowledge of the details; although engagement levels are low as participants are pre-occupied with their email and other issues.
Finally we see the impact of a lack of trust in our personal relationships where the lack of trust creates suspicion and distance.
Trust is the lubricant of our society, without which the warning light burns increasingly bright.
We would be well advised to look in the mirror at regular intervals and ask ourselves what it is that we are doing to increase trust in our personal and business relationships?
Are we building our trust account by acting with integrity? Is our intent for the good of both parties, not just our own? Do we have the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours to succeed in our responsibilities and are we putting them to good use to produce results that are of value? Are we consistent in what we say and do and do we have consideration for others?
These are strange times where political leaders play games with trust on the global stage. The global political and economic arena is not a casino, and yet it is being treated as such… and the stakes are very high indeed!
While we may not have control and little influence on this global stage, we can control how we try to make a difference in building trusting relationships with our families, work colleagues and friendships in the hope that it will yield a dividend on our transactions.
Thinking about the longer-term consequences of our words and actions and controlling how we respond in the short term, rather than simply making knee-jerk reactions to events is not that difficult … for some!