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Journal of ASPR - Winter 2014
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Thrive during the trust crisis

By David Horsager, M.A., CSP, CEO, Horsager Leadership Inc., St. Paul, MN

We are in a crisis, and it’s not a financial one. At the World Economic Forum held in China, world leaders declared that our biggest crisis is a lack of trust and confidence. We are in a trust crisis, and few people really understand the implications. Trust not only affects credit and government relations but every known relationship. In the healthcare industry, relationships are important and the primary currency is not money – it’s trust.

If you think trust is just a "soft skill,” consider the impact of Tiger Woods’ behavior off the golf course. His actions lost him millions of dollars in a matter of weeks. One breach of trust at the Pennsylvania State University could cost the University $1 billion over the next decade. Mortgage payments are based on credit scores, which are essentially a trust score. The more the bank trusts you, the higher your score and the less you pay over the course of the loan. Trust impacts the bottom line.

It’s easy to get caught up in the newest tactics but without trust, the right doors simply won’t open. Without trust, you will struggle to recruit and retain great physicians. The "trust edge” is required - the competitive advantage you gain when others have a confident belief in you to do what is right, deliver what is promised, and to be the same every time, in spite of circumstances. The "trust edge” shows in every relationship and is eventually demonstrated through successful onboarding and retention.

Trust is the unique commonality of the most successful staff physician recruiters. Obtaining this level of trust isn’t easy, so if you are looking for a quick fix, don’t look to trust. Trust is like a forest - it takes a long time to grow, and is easily burned down with just a touch of carelessness. Fortunately, we can build this fundamental key to success by building and maintaining eight pillars of trust.

  1. Consistency
    In every area of life, it’s the little things - done consistently - that make a big difference. If I am overweight, it is because I have eaten too many calories over time, not because I ate too much yesterday. The same holds true in business. When tasks are done consistently, there is increased productivity, retention and a higher level of trust.
  2. Clarity
    People trust what is clear and mistrust what is ambiguous. Be clear about your mission, purpose, expectations and daily activities. When managers are clear in their expectations, they will likely get what they want. When recruiters are clear about the position they’re presenting - its benefits and its expectations - the right people are attracted.
  3. Compassion
    Think beyond yourself and never underestimate the power of compassion. The old saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is not just an old proverb - it is truth. If followed, trust will be found.
  4. Character
    Do what is right over what is easy. Successful recruiters consistently do what needs to be done whether they feel like doing it or not.
  5. Contribution
    Few things build trust quicker than actual results. At the end of the day, people need to see outcomes. You can have compassion and character, but without the results you promised, people won’t trust you. Be a contributor that delivers real results.
  6. Competency
    Staying fresh, relevant and capable builds trust. Keep learning new ways of doing things and stay current on ideas and trends. According to one study, the key competency of new MBA’s was not a specific skill, but rather the ability to learn amid chaos. Arrogance and a "been there done that attitude” will prevent growth and compromise others’ confidence in you. There is always more to learn, so make a habit of reading, learning and listening to fresh information.
  7. Connection
    Trust is all about relationships and relationships are best built by establishing genuine connections. Ask questions, listen and above all, show gratitude - it’s the primary trait of truly talented connectors. Grateful people are not entitled, they do not complain, and they do not gossip. Develop gratitude and you will be a magnet.
  8. Commitment
    Stick with it through adversity. The most trusted are those who make sacrifices for the greater good. Commitment builds trust.

Building trust with potential and currently employed physicians does not start with the economy, government or even your organization; it starts with YOU. Build these pillars and enjoy greater relationships, revenue and results.

David Horsager, M.A., CSP, is an award-winning speaker, author, producer and business strategist who has researched and spoken on the bottom-line impact of trust across four continents. Get free resources and more at and David will present his talk, The Trust Edge, at the 2014 ASPR Annual Conference.

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