The latest Edelman Trust Barometer has identified ‘building trust’ as the top priority for today’s CEOs. Interestingly, this year’s survey also found that the credibility of CEOs is rising. Cirrus CEO Dr Simon Hayward asks how leaders can make the most of this standing to build more trusting relationships around them?
As we all know, trust in business, government, and other institutions has been eroded in recent years by economic and political upheaval. However, there is now a real opportunity for business leaders to rebuild trust as employees look to them to drive change not only inside their own organisations, but also beyond them.
Why are CEOs being seen as increasingly credible? The shift has been attributed to more high-profile business leaders speaking out about the importance of values. 72% of employees trust their employers to do what is right, and nearly two-thirds of survey respondents say they want CEOs to take the lead on policy change instead of waiting for government (now trusted less than business is). There is now a widespread expectation that business leaders can increase company profits while also improving the economic and social conditions around them. Edelman’s analysts suggest that collaboration and partnership with other organisations can help businesses in building trust.
When I was researching my 2015 book, Connected Leadership, I found that many leaders are now seeking to develop organisations which operate with an almost organic ability to adapt and work in a joined-up way. These more connected organisations have an ethos of devolved decision making and collaboration. They are built on the foundation of trust, and the importance of leadership to unlock this inside and outside organisations.
The emerging style of leadership to support this model is more in tune with the high levels of employee and customer expectation which the recent Trust Barometer highlights. Now that CEOs are considered increasingly credible, they are well placed to engage more people with the purpose of their organisations, and focus on building trust.
The ability to build relationships of trust is a key element of authentic leadership. Authenticity enables you to create trust, by insisting on values-based leadership which is rooted in open and transparent relationships between leaders and followers across the organisational structure.
We have also explored trust and authentic leadership in a special Cirrus webinar. Click here to listen to How to develop authentic leadership.