Crisis in leadership

Less than one fifth of the general public believes business leaders and government officials will tell the truth when confronted with a difficult issue. There also is a growing trust gap between institutions and their leaders – globally, trust in business is 32 points higher than trust in business leaders to tell the truth; trust in government is 28 points higher than it is for government officials.

This stark message is delivered by the latest edition of global public relations firm Edelman’s Trust Barometer, which describes its findings as “a serious crisis of confidence in leaders of both business and government.” Highlighting the damaging effect on trust of the misdeeds of several high-profile business leaders, Edelman president and chief executive officer Richard Edelman writes in the survey’s Executive Summary that “the shock of 2008, the subsequent recession and misdeeds by establishment figures have forced a reset in expectations of institutions and their leaders.” This ‘reset’ is described as a “democratizing trend”, a redistribution of influence from traditional authority figures such as CEOs and government leaders toward employees, academics, peers and other thought leaders.

According to Edelman, “A professor or person like yourself is now trusted nearly twice as much as a chief executive or government official. The hierarchies of old are being replaced by more trusted peer-to-peer, horizontal networks of trust.” New ways of building trust include treating employees well, exhibiting ethical and transparent practices and placing customers ahead of profits while also delivering quality products and services. The report suggest a new mantra for businesses to embrace: “move beyond earning the License to Operate – the minimum required standard – toward earning a License to Lead – in which business serves the needs of shareholders and broader stakeholders by being profitable and acting as a positive force in society.” The full report explores each aspect of the survey in depth: this is a valuable tool to understand people’s changing perception of the role of businesses and leadership in contemporary society. Taken from Edelman Trust Barometer 2013 Executive Summary

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