Trusted Executive Foundation Interview with Peter Gibbs, former Director of Brakes Group

Peter Gibbs was formerly the Director of Brakes Group, a leading supplier to the foodservice sector in the UK, Ireland, France and Sweden serving tens of thousands of customers across Europe every day.  In this interview, Peter shares with us his views on trust and its power in creating a clear cohesive and proactive foundation within organisations to support change and performance improvement.  

On the importance of trust:

‘Trust is absolutely fundamental when dealing one to one with people, customers and other stakeholders. Trust, integrity and belief have to be major areas of focus and development at Brakes Group if we are to deliver high levels of customer service through strong retention and engagement of the workforce. Trust is of major importance in food service. There must be confidence in the service and product you are offering and this is driven by colleagues believing in the purpose and goals of the organisation at every level.’

On the role of trust with different stakeholders:

‘With colleagues, it has been key to move from a reactive ‘stick’ culture to a proactive ‘carrot’ culture, where trust is implicit and communication becomes more open. To achieve this you need to model trust, give trust and work hard to demonstrate trust at all levels. Trust is a great tool for engagement, explanation and implementation of the organisational goals across all levels of the organisation. It is especially valuable for multi-site operations in large organisations where it is difficult for the leadership team to be visible at all times to every colleague.’

On the value of trust as an agent for change:

‘Trust engenders a culture of decision making at all levels and allows the organisation to respond to change more effectively.  No plan survives first contact with the enemy and a flexible, trusting culture allows the optimum solution to be found and implemented more often.’

On building a high trust culture:

‘The best way to build trust is to ‘get on Shank’s pony’ and get out into the business to ‘take the pulse’. This is a key commitment to demonstrating trust. In four years our engagement scores increased six-fold from the lowest to the highest. This was achieved with a determined focus on demonstrating good habits of trust and moving from explicit to implicit trust at all levels.’

The Nine Habits of Trust:

The nine habits of trust model

Peter’s interview underlines the fact that all nine habits are fundamental to building high trust and therefore a strong business culture. All companies are challenged to deliver the bottom-line figures and therefore much focus is put into the habit of delivery. However, what is the relative importance of the habit of delivery versus the habits of integrity? There are instances where delivering great results alone is insufficient and decisions about who to recruit or who to promote will be based upon which executive is considered to have the most integrity. Also, whilst delivery skills can be trained and coached, integrity is intrinsic; it comes from within. Integrity is critical for collective trust and cohesion. This is something that even the most able and driven executives must consider to increase their value and insure their reputation in a world where nothing can be hidden.

Our thanks are extended to Peter for sharing his interesting insights into the value and application of trust in his career.

For more information on the Trusted Executive Foundation please refer to this short introductory video.

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