Is There Such a Thing as an Honest Businessman?

17 Nov

Enron. Halliburton. Bernie Madoff. It’s just one sad story after another. When we hear about these business scandals, we generally shake our heads in disapproval of how business leaders today run their businesses; and it’s even more depressing when we think about how these businesses seem to run our society.  We can’t help but wonder whether there’s such a thing as an honest businessman.

Ironically enough, while most people seem to lack trust in business leaders, trust is the very thing that keeps the customers coming back for more. And without customers, there is no business.

Yet somehow, there still remains hope for business leaders to repair the negative public image they have today. However, first things first, what does it take for a business leader to earn the trust of the people?

Align Your Interests

Customers aren’t going to trust you if you have some underlying ulterior motive. People tend to trust you when you bear the same consequences as them. When you are in a leadership position where you benefit when your customers benefit, and suffer when your customers suffer, you tend to have common interests. When customers find that getting what they want go hand in hand with you working hard, they’ll have more faith in you.

Dare to Care 

Customers want business leaders who care about people other than just themselves to be in charge. If a leader only cares about getting what he wants, then no one simply will follow him. However, if customers see that a leader is willing to sacrifice for the greater good of his company, they tend to be more trusting of the products and services the company has to offer.

Stand and Deliver Your Promises

Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and always keep the promises you make. When a business leader makes promises that affect people other than himself, their trust is at stake. For instance, customers are not going to trust Steve Jobs or Apple if the newest iPhone does not have all of the specifications that were guaranteed to them when they bought it. There’s just no reason for anyone to be trusted if they can’t follow up on their promises.

Honest to Goodness

There’s no such thing as an honest cheat. The best solution is just to be honest. Honesty isn’t just telling the truth, it’s about having integrity and having sincerity. Make it a point to apologize to people when you make a mistake. And when you make a mistake, make an effort to learn from it. Be genuine to your customers.

Communication is Key

Arguably the most important factor when it comes to gaining someone’s trust is having good communication. Communication is the key to any successful relationship. Also, any successful relationship is built on trust. It’s what sets everything in motion. It’s difficult to imagine aligning your interests, showing you care, following up on promises, or being honest without communicating with anyone. How do you express what your goals and interests are, or make promises to your customers without the ability to communicate?

On the flip side, miscommunication can potentially be just as bad as no communication. Inefficient communication leads to time wasted between two parties. One party will learn to not rely on the other party as much, as a result. In the most extreme cases, miscommunication can lead to betrayal when one party acts inadvertently on miscommunicated information.

Following these five points of advice is a great way to start building relationships with your customers. People may already be reluctant when it comes to trusting business leaders, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Be patient. Trust takes years to build, seconds to destroy, but certainly not forever to repair.

by Jeffrey Huang

Reference:

Hurley, Robert. (2011). Trust Me: Companies spend a lot of time focusing on ethical behavior. But that’s not where the crisis is. Retrieved from

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204138204576603031565507232.html?KEYWORDS=communication

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One Response to “Is There Such a Thing as an Honest Businessman?”

  1. Robert Knapel November 29, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Jeffery,

    I certainly believe that there are honest businessmen out there. In some industries deals are done on a simple handshake agreement. Granted, these deals come between two people who have trusted each other for years, but they must have been honest with each other to gain this level of trust.

    While there may be some unscrupulous businessmen out there it is unfair to use this as a generalization about all of those in business. Most businessmen can be trusted and if both sides can get to know each other it could lead to a long lasting business relationship.

    Robert

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