Trust in business leaders is at an historic low, observes Damien O’Brien, writing for Management Today. He cites the Edelman Trust Barometer, which revealed that in 2013 a mere 18% of respondents said they trusted business leaders to be truthful.
This lack of trust presents a profound problem. O’Brien points out that trust is “highly correlated with productivity and innovation”.
O’Brien believes the solution lies in how we think about leadership. He explains: “Historically many business leaders relied on positional power to exercise authority. They also had a control of information that was a source of power. And frankly, stakeholders had less choice.
“These fundamental parameters no longer hold water. The real time public scrutiny of leaders, the mobility of talent, the increased competition in all sectors, and the changing views on the meaning of work and the purpose of business, have created new expectations – and new demands on leaders.”
The author emphasises that companies must show more creativity and daring when assessing and developing their leaders, with an onus on identifying people with the ability to inspire the trust of stakeholders.