Best Practice
May 7, 2012

Can you still be trusted?

Most leaders will readily agree that earning and keeping the trust of others is critical to their effectiveness as a leader. It is quite possibly the single most important prerequisite for leaders at all organization levels. Unfortunately, it can also be the most fragile. Recent events in the economy have spilled over into all business sectors and have shaken the confidence in organization leadership to the core.

To the leader trust is not simply one more element on a long list of desired characteristics. It is more like the foundation that will support all your leadership efforts. If people do not trust you everything else you do as a leader becomes inconsequential. Forget trying to be inspirational, coach-like, innovative, supportive, a team leader, or visionary. If you don’t have people’s trust they may do what you tell them because you have positional authority but you will not get the passionate engagement that is the result of true leadership.

So how high is your trust index these days? Here is a quick check up. Ask yourself the following four questions. Do you think most people in your organization trust you? Trust you more or less now than they did a year ago? Have faith in you? Have more or less faith in you now than they did a year ago?

These are important questions. If you are uncertain about the answers now might be a good time for a 360 assessment or to consciously ask for feedback?

It is likely that during the past year both your personal trust brand and your company’s trust brand have diminished. In a recession as serious as the one we are in now people tend to operate in a climate of personal fear, of which a consequence is an erosion of trust. This personal fear includes fear of loss of income, loss of position, loss of relationships and loss of security. Most of all it includes fear of what the future is going to look like and that is where you come in as a trusted leader. One definition of trust says that it is “confidence to guide them to a place and create hope”. If people cannot see a better tomorrow they will naturally tend to trust in you less, even though on a personal level you may not have changed.

Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm (www.edelman.com) recently published its tenth annual Edelman Trust Barometer. The results show that nearly two thirds of the people surveyed trust corporations less than they did a year ago, and only 17 percent said they would trust information from a company CEO (insert your name here if you are a senior leader!).

Most alarmingly of all, 77 percent of the people said they refused to buy products or services from companies they distrusted. That’s quite a sobering thought for anyone, whether you operate in a business-to-business organization or one that directly serves the consumer.

So what steps can you take to actively try to recover the trust that has been lost?

It’s worth recognizing that it typically takes much longer to regain people’s trust than it does to lose it. Just ask yourself, how long do you think it will take Main Street to start trusting Wall Street again? As Tom Peters once said, “there is no such thing as a minor lapse in integrity.” It is going to take time and effort on your part to build back the trust you have lost, especially as this climate of fear is unlikely to disappear in the short term.

Regaining your company’s trust brand could be the subject of a whole other article, but here are a few suggestions for regaining your personal trust brand, and if it is going to take a long time you may as well get started now!

Be Inspirational: Right now, it is more critical than ever that you as the leader are able to create hope. You need to build back your people’s confidence in you, and in your organization. They need to know that if they respond to what you are asking of them that the future will be brighter than today.

Be Visible: It is unlikely that sitting behind your desk or hiding in your office is going to cut it. Get out there, be visible and let people know that you are willing to confront the issues head on.
Earn Their Respect: If you are asking your people to go the extra mile for you right now, make sure they know you are willing to do the same for them.

Communicate: People’s sense of fear tends to grow when they are kept in the dark. We naturally fear the unknown, and tend to think the worst when confidence is low. On the other hand most people can handle the truth and will trust and respect you more if you communicate openly, and often.

Self-Awareness: Take a moment to look at yourself. Are you still acting in accordance with your own values or are you sacrificing some of your core beliefs in return for some short-term relief. Do people still see you as authentic? Does the room light up when you walk in or when you walk out? Now more than ever is when your people are looking to you to stand up for what you believe in and lead with integrity.

Put all of these into practice and make them part of who you are as a leader and you just might be able to reverse the trend and see your trust growing back.

Bryn Meredith is a principle of Bluepoint Leadership Development with extensive experience as a business leader, entrepreneur and leadership development specialist (brynmeredith@bluepointleadership.com).

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Best Practice
 
We live in the age of paradox.  Never before in human...
 
Canada is a world leader in clean electricity, with two-thirds of...
 
The discussion around where technology is going in government tends to...
 
Leadership, service delivery, change management, performance measurement, big data, transparency, digital...
 
What are the key initiatives to support government innovation and change?...
 
Could robot doctors be on the horizon? A study published February...
 
According to a 2018 study led by Dr. Michael McGuire, Senior...
 
My observation is people often take the view, “no one else...
 
One of the benefits of living in a federation is that...
 
The role of internal audit in the public sector has changed...
 
We are excited to share with you the October/November 2018 edition...
 
As governments have sought to go digital, one of the most...
 
With the launch of the Canada Infrastructure Bank and US Congressional interest in Trump’s...
 
Why is strategic planning so dreaded? How often do we actually...
 
Most articles you’ll read within the pages of Canadian Government Executive...
 
A communications revolution has taken place but you would not know...
 
Headlines about the world of work are often dominated by the...
 
Earlier this year the Canadian government took a crucial step by...
 
The use of digital services in the day-to-day lives of most...
 
Since launching in 2014, Sweden’s radically ‘feminist’ foreign policy has gained international notoriety. While...
 
The International Civil Service Effectiveness (InCiSE) Index project, a collaboration between...
 
Today, the challenges facing governments are increasingly shifting away from traditional,...
 
Three years before his death in 2011, Jack Layton released a...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media, (CGE) publisher of Canadian Government Executive magazine...
 
Management in the Government of Canada is continuously searching for new...
 
With businesses and government agencies increasingly operating in a highly information-based...
 
Blockchain. There’s probably no other technology trend in recent years that...
 
Over the last two years, an ever-growing number of organizations around...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) is pleased to announce its first batch...
 
In today’s workplace, individuals increasingly face dynamic and difficult challenges that...
 
Canadian Government Executive Media (CGE) is pleased to welcome Microsoft as its Platinum Sponsor for...
 
In a rather unusual, quiet manner this past summer, a new...
 
Canadian government agencies and departments are modernizing the way they do...
 
The health care system in Canada, known as Medicare, is publicly...
 
We are happy to share with you the May/June issue of...
 
Facebook Pages can be an essential tool for businesses and charities,...
 
In this special episode of CGE Radio, your host John Jones...
 
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 28 independent member countries...
 
Cost overruns have become institutionalized in the federal government, according to...
 
Last year, procurement Minister Jody Foote was prompted by the swirling...
 
The rapid advances in digital technology, demographic and societal shift even...
 
Results Washington is Washington state government’s data-driven performance management and continuous...
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but...
 
Ontario’s provincial government needs to act fast in building a coordinated...
 
It’s a common notion that young workers born in the mid-1990s...
 
A study conducted by Robert Half, the world’s largest specialized staffing...
 
In order to find out which strategies and priorities CFOs are...
 
A small but rapidly growing number of businesses have started hiring...
 
CFOs around the world are changing – but an EY survey...
 
There’s a fine line between confidence and naivety – a line...
 
Around the world, more and more workers are seeking employment. At...
 
As populations grow and age, the demand for services increases. As...
 
By Nicole Verkindt Despite growing up in a small town in...
 
The agency responsible for safeguarding the Pentagon and several other buildings...
 
As much a 20 per cent of grade seven students in...
 
By Jason Zhang  The best way to cost effectively manage the retention...
 
He is often referred to as the federal government’s first “chief...
 
Are you absolutely clear what the government wants to achieve? Are...
 
Copyright owners have struggled to protect their intellectual property since the...
 
Here’s some bad news for organizations contemplating projects that have something...
 
Nearly half of Canadian organizations are falling behind on implementation of...
 
The idea of converged infrastructure and converged systems in the datacentre...
 
Hackers are zeroing in on users of SSL/TLS encryption and no...
 
There is no shortage of examples of businesses that effectively used...
 
Microsoft, on Tuesday, ended support for older versions of Internet Explorer...
 
Written by Tim Wacker Almost a quarter century ago, when most...
 
Written By Chris Brown To deliver results that senior executives value,...
 
Written By Jason McNaught Contrary to what you may have heard,...
 
Written by  Benjamin Selinger and Gabriel Flores A real challenge for...
 
Written by  Patrice Dutil It’s hard to believe we are still...
 
Written by  Patrice Dutil Craig Dowden, President and Founder of Craig...
 
Written by  Brady G. Wilson You may not realize it, but...
 
Written by  Roxanne Descôteaux When I first became a manager over...
 
The good news is that the Government of Canada recognizes the...
 
You sometimes wonder why government can’t be better at just getting...
 
Hill+Knowlton Canada announced last week that it has received the prestigious...
 
I’ve been giving 110 percent for as long as I can...
 
The National Voluntary Standard for psychological health and safety in the...
 
The government of Alberta has banded together with British Columbia and...
 
When we put out the call to cities across Canada for...
 
BC Hydro was experiencing ongoing challenges with IT assets decommissioned as...
 
City councils are important. They not only represent citizens at the...
 
Business continuity management has evolved into a specialized discipline, but you...
 
Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health is leading a new approach to strategic...
 
Whether you have read John Kotter’s classic Leading Change or not,...
 
Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. But...
 
Across the country, public sector leaders are challenged with the daunting...
 
When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, it was government that...
 
Ego can do us in. It can lead to arrogance, blindness,...
 
and the more layers between a given employee and the relevant...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.2 February 2008 Management speaks of change in positive...
 
Innovation, leadership and a commitment to building a knowledge advantage are...
 
One of the most paradoxical Biblical parables, found the Gospel of...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.1 January 2008 “We’ve entered into an era in...
 
L’une des paraboles bibliques les plus paradoxales rapportées par Luc est...
 
Chris Baker is Deputy Minister, Policy and Priorities, and Deputy Minister,...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.2 February 2008 Often overworked and understaffed, the procurement...
 
Federal, provincial and municipal governments provide billions of dollars in grants...
 
During the American presidential election campaign of 1976, Jimmy Carter, then...
 
The Ontario Public Service celebrated ten years of hosting Showcase Ontario,...
 
Tell the truth. Deep down, do you sometimes – or often...
 
What if our general approach to brainstorming was all wrong? That...
 
Nearly two decades after I read Lincoln On Leadership, the messages...
 
True leaders are proactive. They get things done. They accomplish that...
 
Management and leadership are complicated. So it would be lovely if...
 
Government revolves around power. Political parties seek power. They implement their...
 
Managers generally walk around with a what’s-going-wrong mentality. They are fixated...
 
Government runs on expertise. Government executives seek the best knowledge and...
 
Let’s resume last month’s discussion on effective change initiatives with some...
 
When Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty set as a prime goal of...
 
By now it’s commonplace knowledge that emotional intelligence is vital to...
 
Good leaders can make bad decisions. President Kennedy blundered over the...
 
The TRIC model of leadership is enshrined in the Ontario Public...
 
A respectful workplace is a critical ingredient of successful public service...
 
For the third year in a row, the Ontario Public Service...
 
Justice on Target (JOT) takes a unique and bold approach to...
 
Perched on top a 60 meter column in a bustling square...
 
For the second year in a row, the Ontario Public Service...
 
OTTAWA – Management consultants at Accenture, a respected longtime observer of...
 
La plupart des leaders reconnaissent d’emblée que leur efficacité dépend de...
 
Most leaders will readily agree that earning and keeping the trust...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
We live in the age of paradox.  Never before in human...