In 2013, the Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 31,000 people across the world, reported that 82% of those surveyed don’t trust business leaders. At the 2016 survey, not much has changed – one in three people still don’t trust their employers.
As we recently celebrated National Honesty Day, there is no better time to sit back and take stock of your own relationship with people who work with you and for you.
This lack of trust is largely due to integrity – and the gap between how important employees think this is in a leader, and to what extent they think their employers have this quality. The majority of employees think that their CEO’s should be highly ethical in their actions and practice integrity, but unfortunately these same people don’t believe they are.
The Leadership Contract by Vince Molinaro points out recent studies that show only 7% of employees have trust and confidence in their employers. This is clearly not a way to build a thriving business. So, what is the answer?
The two key areas for building trust in leadership often come down to honesty and transparency. And don’t forget, if you build trust with your employees, they will speak well of you, and this will build trust with customers.
So what are the qualities that employees look for in a leader? What will make them believe in you, through thick and thin?
- Making tough decisions: Good leaders make the tough decision to lead and constantly commit to being the best leader that they can be.
- Being accountable: A leader who is completely transparent about their commitment will earn the trust of employees. Employers who are accountable will have firmness and resilience and will help each other out.
- Obligations to serve the greater good: Good leaders put the interests of the organisation ahead of their self-interest. They uphold their responsibilities towards co-workers, customers and the community.
- Hard work: This is the hallmark of good leadership. It is easy to become a mediocre leader, but it is hard work that will set you apart from others.
- Community: Good leaders build a community with other leaders, leading to high-quality connections and networks, which provide mutual support. Employers who don’t have such support can quickly become overwhelmed.
Any leader who is willing to work hard can earn the trust of their employees. If you can truly understand the meaning of leadership as it is based on these principles, then you can raise the standards and become a more successful leader. It’s important to roll out this approach to leadership throughout your organisation. One way to do this is by introducing a leadership accountability contract, to be signed whenever someone moves into an executive, mid-level, front line or emerging leadership role. This suggestion by Molinaro can help any leader uphold the standards of good leadership, and take on a trustworthy role in people management.
When employees observe leaders who are motivated by more than business performance and profit, they are more likely to perform better, recommend the company’s services and products, and stay with the organisation. With all of these benefits in exchange for a little honesty and accountability, there’s no reason why every business leader shouldn’t be taking on the challenge and developing an honest approach to people management.
At LHH Gulf, we offer The Leadership Contract™ Workshop to assist leaders to take the steps for personal accountability which is at the heart of leadership development.
If you’d like to know more about this workshop and how it might work for you, or what other ways you can look to grow trust within your organisation, then please do feel free to contact our team.