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Leadership & Trust 2021

Leadership & Trust 2021

"CEOs, don't wait. Take the lead. You have to change learned behavior. Now is the time to step up and speak up.” - Richard Edelman when launching the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer.

 This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, the annual worldwide trust survey polling 33,000 respondents globally, found public trust in government, non-governmental institutions and the media has reached an all-time low. However, there is a bright spot for leaders. Most people are turning to, and putting their trust in, their employers for leadership in providing accurate information. And they are looking for more from their CEOs.

More than 8 in 10 respondents expect CEOs to publicly speak out on  challenges, addressing the impacts of the pandemic, automation and societal issues. Interestingly 65 percent want CEOs to hold themselves as accountable to the public as to shareholders.

The study clearly shows that leaders are being called on to be courageous and openly speak out on key issues. Ultimately, people are looking towards leaders to provide trust and inspiration.

What lessons can we share with leaders as they are trying to build trust inside their organization? Here is what our Managing Partners have to say:

 JAN KIEL: “EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP IS BASED ON TRUST”
What does it take to trust a leader? People want to trust in their leaders’ competence, their logical and cognitive skills, required to get the job done. And people want to believe in their leaders' integrity, their willingness to act fairly, to honor commitments and to care more about others than about themselves. This is difficult to measure, but your people will feel the difference. That’s when trust evolves.

 BARBARA KEARNEY: “TRUST IS THE KEY FOR AN INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE”
While many companies have been focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for several years, there is still room for improvement. If this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer’s results show one thing, it is that there is no doubt that the current trust dynamics create an opportunity for leaders to step up on issues that affect society such as DEI. Having worked in and with various industries for many years, I know that diversity doesn’t mean a thing if companies do not offer an inclusive workplace. Diversity is the who and the what, and inclusion is the how. What makes people feel included in their organization? Many things of course. Trust is definitely a key component. And trust comes down to leaders, because what leaders say and do makes the difference on whether an individual truly feels included. Why does this matter? Because when we feel included, we speak up more, we collaborate more, and we go the extra mile making a difference to our organization’s performance.(read more on how you can become a more inclusive leader)

ANDREAS REUSCH: “IF YOU DON’T HAVE TRUST IN YOUR TEAM, YOU DON’T HAVE A TEAM, YOU HAVE A GROUP”
Studies show that creating a culture of psychological safety - one in which people trust one another and don’t fear speaking their minds - results in smarter risk taking and better problem solving. In the presence of trust and respect, we speak the truth. When psychological safety is lacking, people do not give true feedback to their leaders or their peers to protect themselves. If you don't have trust in your team, you don't have a team - you have a group. Thriving teams are built on trust, common purpose, equal voice, diversity of thinking, shared values, shared accountability, mutual respect, and psychological safety. When people feel connected to their organization, their leader and their team, they feel psychologically safe, have a better understanding of how to succeed, and feel empowered to go out and do great work.

KLAUS EWERTH: “TRUST- BASED LEADERSHIP ULTIMATELY LEADS TO MAXIMUM COMMITMENT AND PERFORMANCE”
A culture of trust is the foundation of building high performing teams. It allows individuals to make mistakes and show vulnerability – while knowing that they are being supported. It allows teams to learn from mistakes, to thrive and, eventually, be at their best. A trust culture creates strong followership of true leaders. A followership that is proactive and entrepreneurial because it is allowed to take risks - in a transparent, feedback-seeking way. It is the opposite of a blame- or cancel-culture. However, a trust culture is not about being naive. On the contrary, it is about giving responsibility in a responsible way. It is about bringing the best out of people by setting ambitious goals - trusting they will grow by trying to achieve them. And at the same time knowing they will need support along the way – therefore being prepared to step in when needed to help them succeed. Trust-based leadership ultimately leads to maximum commitment and maximum performance.

 What are your takeaways from the Edelman Trust Barometer? What do you need to be able speak out on issues that are important to your employees? How are you fostering trust in your organization? Talk to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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