Deep down, I reckon we’re all anxious. Not surprising really when we look around us.

At home, we have just witnessed another grizzly terror attack in London. We are also a nation both divided by our future relationship with the rest of Europe and united by an overwhelming uncertainty on where this schism will lead in real terms. Get what done, exactly?!

It’s fair to say that Britain is not enjoying its finest hour on the world stage. In many quarters, we are mocked and pitied, with a reputation in freefall, a kind of Sports Direct for tourists on an exchange rate bonanza.

To this point, the latest copy of The Week features the UK’s two main political leaders, Johnson and Corbyn (in case the term leader threw you), as a couple of trilby-topped spivs selling hooky watches to the unsuspecting. Well, at least we have our Royal Family. Doh!

Further afield, the most powerful man in the world is a tweeting poster boy for post-truth politics while the second most powerful man, Xi Jinping, appears determined, at any cost, to become the most powerful. Thanks, guys, for your visionary lose-lose stewardship.

Beyond the two major superpowers, the global political climate is as unstable as the global climate climate. For ruthless floods and uncontrollable bushfires read public protests, often violent, in France, Spain, Chile, Peru, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Lebanon, Indonesia, Haiti, Iran and Malta. And that’s not counting 2019’s official war zones.

Are we agreed, then, we have good reasons to be anxious?

While thinking about this, an interesting stat caught my eye, in the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer. Staggeringly, around the planet, only one in five believes ‘the system is working for them’, whether in what the study called the mass population or the informed public. Most of us are harbouring an underlying sense of injustice, a desire for change.

This would certainly explain why people are taking to the streets. After all, unresolved anxiety leads to anger, a reaction to the feeling that someone or something has done us wrong. Interestingly, there is also the theory that the world is locked into a 50-year, or thereabouts, rage cycle, anchored in the 1870s and, therefore, firing up again now. So much to look forward to!

But let’s get back to trust. One of the reasons that we’re anxious, in my view, is indeed that, outside our family and peer/friendship groups, we can struggle to find anyone to trust.

We will all have participated in the shift, facilitated by social media, from a top-down orientation for trust to a horizontal one (so-called ‘deference to reference’) but this doesn’t disarm the news, again from the Edelman survey, that there has been “a progressive destruction of trust in societal institutions” (most notably government). In addition, “traditional power elite figures, such as CEOs and heads of state, have been discredited”.

From a personal point of view, in the UK, from the Ipsos MORI Veracity Index 2019, it is heart-warming to read that “trust in politicians has fallen by five percentage points and they have displaced advertising executives as the least trusted profession in the survey”. I didn’t even know advertising was a profession! Unsurprisingly, at the other end of the scale, Brits have an almost universal faith in nurses, doctors and dentists to tell the truth.

Enter the employer, to the rescue. In this year’s report, Edelman have observed “a further reordering or trust to more local sources, with ‘my employer’ emerging as the most trusted entity because the relationships that are closest to us feel more controllable”. It is true that employees these days have high expectations of those who pay their wages but nonetheless 75% of respondents trusted their employers (if not necessarily their CEOs), representing an enormous opportunity for a wide range of organisations to re-define the employer/employee charter.

This is a helpful development because it plays into the importance of trust more widely in the workplace. In my work as a business relationship consultant, trust is the key ingredient in a fully functioning commercial partnership.

With a foundation of trust, anything is possible. Today, more than ever, trust is an essential asset for breaking down silos, fostering collaboration, managing the never-ending process of change, for inspiring team effectiveness through a sense of common purpose.

Google has described it this way. “Great teams thrive on trust. In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members”. This freedom to suspend uncertainty and vulnerability permits the commitment of the whole self, inviting us to show up and do our best work.

Quoting consulting firm, Reina, who specialise in this field: “Trust builds the bridge between the business need for results and the human need for connection”.

To demonstrate the towering importance of trust, from his consulting work with the US Navy SEALs, author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek produced a four-box grid with performance running up the y-axis, trust along the x-axis. In selecting recruits, of course, the most desirable were in the top right box (high performance, high trust) and the least desirable could be found bottom left.

But, counter-intuitively, the US Navy’s primary special operations force would rather sign up medium or even lower performing candidates on condition that they were at the high end of the trust axis.

We spend around a third of our lives at work. If we can trust that environment and those in it when the wider world is offering poor returns, then we can weather the storms ahead. That’ll be now.