Learn More About Sandra J. Sucher
Trust isn’t a feeling. It results from intentional choices, says Harvard Business School Professor of Management Practice Sandra J. Sucher (SUCH-er). By helping leaders see trust not as an aesthetic wrapper, but rather as the foundation for building relationships with stakeholders of all kinds – customers, employees, investors, and the public – Sucher provides a roadmap for becoming trusted in a world where the demands on organizations, their leaders, and their boards are growing all the time. Much of her work involves helping key decision makers understand, prioritize and manage the interests of different groups in areas like corporate citizenship and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
Sucher is an accomplished business executive who spent years developing and building on her commitment to moral leadership while working as a manager in the financial services, retail and nonprofit sectors. As a business process improvement specialist, she actively incorporated trust, morality and DEI into workplace systems and witnessed firsthand how such a focus significantly benefited the organization and its employees. Her new book, “The Power of Trust: How Companies Earn It, Lose It, Regain It,” (Public Affairs, July 2021) – co-authored with colleague Shalene Gupta – summarizes her two decades of research examining the gray areas of business. The book serves as an essential guide for leaders interested in cultivating trust within and outside their organizations. Soon after its release, “The Power of Trust” was named among the best business books in July 2021 by The Financial Times.
“Trust underpins a range of issues related to gender, corporate responsibility, race and beyond,” says Sucher, who is on the Edelman Trust Institute advisory board, collaborates with Deloitte on TrustIQ™, a proprietary tool that measures key elements of trust in major corporations and public sector organizations, and collaborates with PwC on their Trust Leadership Institute. “We often think of trust in an ephemeral way, as a good feeling that everyone shares. But trust is actually a skill grounded in relationship management and understanding motivations. It’s a framework designed to change cultures and open the door to more effective ways of engaging with constituents.”
Ethics are at the core of Sucher’s work. As an advisor, speaker and executive coach, she teaches leaders the importance of inviting in diverse perspectives before making decisions and shows them how to do it successfully. She also helps organizations weather disruption without harming employees. Her 2019 articles on trust, “The Trust Crisis,” “Leading with Trust,” and “The Elements of a Good Company Apology,” were featured as a “big idea” on HBR.org. Her 2018 article, “Layoffs That Don’t Break Your Company,” was selected as a Harvard Business Review “must read” for its insights into how layoffs decimate trust.
“Most of us treat our own moral views as both obvious and self-evident, but leaders must be able to handle complexity by holding multiple perspectives in view at the same time,” says Sucher. “Firms should be looking for reliable methods for leaders to develop and refine these moral reasoning skills.”
Sandra J. Sucher has worked as chair of the Better Business Bureau, a vice president at Fidelity Investments and a senior executive at Filene’s Basement, where she co-authored the proposal to expand from a single-unit business into a national chain. Her leadership teachings are codified in two books based on the Harvard Business School course The Moral Leader. Her research appears in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Quartz, Business Insider, CNBC, NPR and Marketplace, as well as internationally in Germany, Latin America and Japan. In 2021, Sucher and her “Power of Trust” co-author were shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award, which celebrates a eureka moment in management thinking.
Sandra J. Sucher is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.