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HomeManagementSTN EXPO Keynote Shares the Tools to Grow Trust Within Organizations

STN EXPO Keynote Shares the Tools to Grow Trust Within Organizations

RENO, Nev. — “What is a lack of trust costing your team?” David Horsager, the CEO of the Trust Edge Leadership Institute and best-selling author, asked the STN EXPO Reno attendees on Sunday.

Horsager continued, asking everyone to define trust in one word. Honesty, integrity, belief, faith, and hope were only some of the words espoused upon during his opening keynote address.

“Trust is a confident belief in a person, product or organization,” Horsager said of the dictionary definition of the word.

He went on to discuss his eight pillars of trust—he wrote a book of the same title—and how they help to build trust within organizations and relationships.

The first pillar of Clarity resonated with them the most with attendees Tracie Franco, the transportation director of Florence Independent School District in Texas, and John Sides, the director of transportation for North Kitsap School District in Washington.

Horsager explained that clarity is defined as trusting what is clearly communicated rather than the overly complicated. He noted that clarity was setting or finding an action item and determining how it was going to get done. For instance, if someone wanted to take in fewer calories, the “How” would be cutting out sugary drinks.

He advised attendees to go back and find the biggest problem with one’s team and ask themselves “How” until there is clarity in it being overcome.

“I am coming to the director position as new, and I think I am doing well at connecting, but I think I need to do better on the clarity, as far as my expectations of my staff,” Franco shared following the session.

She accepted the director position in December but has been in transportation for the last 15 years. She previously served as an assistant director at Leander ISD, where she oversaw over 200 employees. At Florence ISD, she has a staff of 16.

“It’s great because I’m having to really learn everything from the bottom up, so I feel good about that,” Franco said, adding that it’s her first STN conference and it has not disappointed.


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Sides, meanwhile, agreed that the conference is living up to his expectations. “I’ve been researching it and know that [STN EXPO] is a very big and a well-organized conference, so yes, I have expected a lot out of it, and so far, it is delivering,” he said, adding that Horsager’s eight pillars are something that he plans to post publicly in his staff area so more people can view them.

“Clarity is probably the most important, and the one where we can do the most good,” Sides added.

Horsager proceeded to discuss the other seven pillars: Compassion, Character, Competency, Commitment, Connection, Contribution, and Consistency. In terms of commitment, he noted that it’s important to trust those that stay committed in the face of adversity, citing Harley Davidson as remaining committed to its ideals. As such, it’s the most asked for commercial tattoo.

The only way to rebuild trust, he said, is to make and keep a new commitment or promise. It’s about someone doing what they said they will do, even when no one is watching. He asked the leaders in the room to consider these three questions:

  1. Would you follow you?
  2. Do you have decision-making values?
  3. Do you incentive against the character you want to see?

For Scott Honeycutt, transportation director, and safety officer for Alamosa School District in Colorado, the compassion pillar most resonated.

Honeycutt explained that he just started the director position in January and was nervous to attend the conference. “I’ve come to learn and get all of the information I can,” he said, adding that Horsager’s presentation was very relevant.

“I agree with all of [the pillars], and I try to live by that. But he showed me ways that I can be better,” Honeycutt said, adding that compassion is where he can improve. “Cowboy-up and get her done, that’s my mentality, and that’s not everybody’s mentality.”

Honeycutt said he’s working on finding ways to be more compassionate and tried to ask himself “How,” but admitted he’s unsure of how to implement it.

Horsager concluded the keynote address by discussing consistency and how sameness is the only way to build a brand. It’s the little things done consistently, that make the biggest difference, he said. He noted that people can tell in every interaction if that person is present and if you care about them.

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