How can leaders rebuild trust in an age of corruption?

Trust in leaders and leadership is always relevant but is an especially hot topic right now – no idea why (ahem). But did you know that Thursday 9 December marks international anti-corruption day, which exists to remind us that we all have the power to prevent corrupt people from stealing valuable resources at a time when the world needs them the most. It’s also a good opportunity to reflect on how our trust in those who have power over us, for good or ill, plays a critical role in how we experience the world as individuals and as part of our organisations. 

So what do we do, as comms professionals, when trust in our leaders is damaged?  This HBR report defines the three critical elements of trust in others – positive relationships, good judgement/expertise and consistency – in other words, walking the talk. And when it comes down to the wire, which one do the authors think is most important? You might be surprised to hear that it’s relationships; the evidence showed that when relationships scored low and judgement and consistency scored high, trust still dropped by 33 points.

It’s pretty clear that for leaders to maintain or re-build trust they need to form more positive relationships with employees. And to do that effectively, they need empathy – to really be able to stand in their employees’ shoes and see things from their point of view before they communicate. As recent events show (sacking 900 employees via a Zoom call for example) this skill isn’t one we all share. A lot of what we do when we work with leaders is to support their emotional intelligence and help them to spend more time thinking about how their message might be received, rather than just focusing on what they want to say. Interested in finding out more? On page 11 of our recent white paper (produced in partnership with Poppulo) is a section devoted to supporting leaders to better connect and build trust with employees. Maybe someone should send it to Boris?

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