Want to Build Trust? Start with Leadership.

LeadershipLeadership is usually considered a strength. Something that all should strive for and those with motivation and drive obtain. Some spend their entire lives climbing the corporate ladder for the prestige attached to leadership positions but in today’s society, it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

In recent years, stakeholders have lost trust in the leaders of business. According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global study, only one in five people trust that a business or government leader will tell the truth or follow a code of ethics when difficult issues arise. Some of the reasons for this include poor performance and recent scandals involving prominent business and government leaders, leading to a perception of unethical behavior.

No longer do titles such as CEO or Executive Vice-President add credibility to the business. In fact, using CEOs in selling situations can actually make the sale more difficult. So if customers don’t turn toward business leadership, who do they turn to?

According to the Trust Barometer, customers place more trust in academics, technical experts, colleagues and peers. This is one of the reasons why content marketing and testimonials have become a more effective marketing strategy.

There has been a change in the way trust is established in a business. In years past, financial performance and having a great workplace environment held a lot of clout. Now stakeholders are more interested in transparency, ethical practices, treating employees well and really listening to customers.

Richard Edelman, the president and CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, stated, “Business and governmental leaders must change their management approach and become more inclusive by seeking the input of employees, consumers, activists and experts such as academics, and adapting to their feedback. They must also pass the test of radical transparency.”

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