Category Archives: Leadership

Millennials To Business: You’re Doing It Wrong!

data point tuesday_500

Deloitte’s 4th annual Millennial Survey sends a message from more than 7,800 degreed and employed Millennials from 29 countries around the world to employers: “Business should focus on people and purpose, not just products and profits.” It’s easy for the Gen Xer and Baby Boomer business leaders to respond to this message with the corporate equivalent of “Get off my lawn!” But that would be short sighted, since the Millennials are now officially the largest age group in the economy and we need them. And we need them pretty desperately.

In this world of Big Data one can find a survey analysis to prove any position. Pretty much. And I am generally wary of survey analyses that play up differences between the generations in the workplace because my go-to research from the Great Place to Work® Institute shows that – in the workplace, at least – every person, regardless of generation, wants 3 things:

  • Resepct – including appreciation and fairness
  • Work that gives meaning to their lives and makes them proud
  • Camaraderie with their workmates

These three dynamics in a culture power all kinds of good outcomes and they show little differentiation between age cohorts regardless of industry, geographic location or size of business.

So I take with a grain of salt the results of surveys like this and still recommend that you read them. They provide interesting insights that can add color to your own questions and planning. And the graphs show some interesting gaps in the perception of what Millennials believe “should be” in contrast to “what is.” These are useful insights.

“Today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).”

Deloitte Millennial survey 1

That’s troublesome for celebrity CEOs but good news for the rest of us.

The last 15 pages of the report show graphs that depict Millennials’ takes on the purpose of business, business performance and employee satisfaction, leadership attributes, their skills, and the gender gap regarding leadership readiness and leadership aspirations. Interesting stuff.

But these data points also underscore the growing global focus on creating more human workplaces. The resounding success of the recent WorkHuman Conference produced by Globoforce, is another piece of this trend. My belief is that while all of us want a more human workplace: Millennials are just demanding it more than those of us who were socialized in a less human era. And they are voting with their careers.

The results of surveys like this one from Deloitte give us directional information to use when considering the challenges of growing our businesses, attracting the right talent, and developing and retaining the talent we need to succeed in our competitive marketplaces. And to make our workplace cultures more human.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte, Globoforce, HR Data, Leadership, Millennials, WorkHuman

Deloitte’s HR Wake Up Call

data point tuesday_500Deloitte recently released its 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, their annual comprehensive study of HR, leadership, and talent challenges compiled using data from surveys and interviews taken by 3,300+ HR and business leaders in 106 countries around the world. The report identifies 10 major trends that emerged from the most current research, and cites the capability gap (measuring the distance between the importance of an issue and organizations’ readiness to address it) associated with each, as well as practical ideas for how to help organizations combat theses challenges. Ranked by importance, the top ten talent challenges reported for 2015 are: culture and engagement, leadership, learning and development, reinventing HR, workforce on demand, performance management, HR and people analytics, simplification of work, machines as talent, and people data everywhere.

Deloitte’s data highlight considerable gaps in capability among all 10 trends, with the majority of capability gaps getting larger compared to last year. Global Importance vs. ReadinessLet’s take a look at the top five talent issues for 2015: Culture and Engagement ranked as the #1 issue overall for 2015 (not a surprise to us at Great Place to Work®), barely edging out leadership, which ranked as the #1 issue in 2014. This highlights organizations’ recognition that understanding their culture and focusing on building great cultures is a critical need in the face of a potential retention and engagement crisis. Building Leadership ranks as the #2 talent issue for 2015, with close to 9 out of 10 respondents citing the issue as “important” or “very important.” Despite this, Deloitte’s data show that organizations have made very little progress towards meeting this challenge since last year. Learning and Development jumped to the #3 talent challenge in 2015, up from the #8 spot last year. And while the number of companies rating learning and development as important has tripled since 2014, the readiness to address it has actually gone down (!?). Reskilling HR came in as the 4th most important talent issue for the year, with business leaders rating HR’s performance 20% lower than HR leaders’ ranking (and that is with both HR and business leaders ranking HR performance as low on average). Workforce on Demand was the #5 talent challenge for 2015, with 8 out of 10 respondents citing workforce capability as “important” or “very important” in the year ahead.

Through data analysis and extensive conversations with organizations around the world about these challenges, Deloitte arrived at six key findings that give us a bird’s eye view of how organizations are approaching talent and work:

  1. “ ‘Softer’ areas such as culture and engagement, leadership, and development have become urgent priorities.”
  1. “Leadership and learning have dramatically increased in importance, but the capability gap is widening.”
  1. “HR organizations and HR skills are not keeping up with business needs.”
  1. “HR technology systems are a growing market, but their promise may be largely unfulfilled.”
  1. “Talent and people analytics are a high priority and a tremendous opportunity, but progress is slow.”
  1. “Simplification is an emerging theme; HR is part of the problem.”

Each chapter in Deloitte’s report takes a deep dive view into the 10 talent trends they uncovered through their research with some interested findings. For example (in looking at the #4 trend, reskilling HR) Deloitte notes that nearly 40% of new CHRO’s now come from business, not from HR. Why are CEOs bringing in non-HR professionals to fill the role of CHRO? The answer may lie in their sinking belief in HR’s capabilities and abilities to provide solutions to people-related business problems.HR Performance

Deloitte puts it bluntly: right now HR is just not keeping up with the pace of business, and a reskilling of HR professionals while reinventing the role of HR is becoming critical. This need however, also creates an unprecedented opportunity for HR to play a big role at the highest levels of business strategy. But where do organizations start? Deloitte offers the following advice:

  • “Redesign HR with a focus on consulting and service delivery, not just efficiency of administration. HR business partners must become trusted business advisors with the requisite skills to analyze, consult, and resolve critical business issues.”
  • “Rather than locating HR specialists in central teams, embed them into the business—but coordinate them by building a strong network of expertise. Recruitment, development, employee relations, and coaching are all strategic programs that should be centrally coordinated but locally implemented.”
  • “Make HR a talent and leadership magnet… Create rigorous assessments for top HR staff and rotate high performers from the business into HR to create a magnet for strong leaders.”
  • “Invest in HR development and skills as if the business depended on it… Focus on capabilities such as business acumen, consulting and project management skills, organizational design and change, and HR analytical skills.”

There are very useful insights in this report – as there are every year. But this year the insights also serve as a warning to HR. A warning that it’s losing the confidence of CEOs and other C-Suite executives. That 40% of all CHROs are coming from functions other than HR should be sobering. That the top capability gaps are growing larger, not smaller, should be cause for concern. Without bringing furniture into the conversation, this report is a credible and important HR wake up call!

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CHRO to CEO: Stairway to Heaven

Data Point TuesdayThe Korn Ferry Institute recently released a report that looks at the leadership traits of “best-in-class” executives, and the important relationship between Chief Executive Officers and Chief Human Resources Officers. The report “CEOs and CHROs: Crucial Allies and Potential Successors” confirms that for C-suite roles technical skills are just a fraction of what makes for successful leadership, and that executives in the top 10% of pay for their function tend to have leadership styles that motivate employees, develop future leaders, and create appropriate cultures. The workplace today is shifting to place greater value and more intently evaluate leaders on such areas as how they treat people, foster the right work environment, and encourage future leaders. As Korn Ferry’s report asserts, this type of evaluation is warranted because “well-managed talent, leadership, and culture are what enable sustainable customer, operational, and financial results.”

After analysis, Korn Ferry found that across functions, best-in-class leaders have greater levels of emotional awareness and competence in six key areas:

  • Tolerance of ambiguity
  • Empathy
  • Confidence
  • Composure
  • Energy
  • Adaptability

These best-in-class leaders are “change champions” who are comfortable not having all the answers as well as being around a diverse group of people, enabling them to see from perspectives different than their own. They are empathetic towards others and quick to read a room, have the confidence to take risks and make decisions, remain composed in high-pressure situations, are energetic and enthusiastic, and are adaptable and easily able to accommodate others methods.

Korn Ferry emphasizes the importance of CEOs having allies that will tell them more than “what they already know” and allow them to leverage deep insights on culture, leadership, and talent. CHROs are uniquely positioned to fill this ally role because in many organizations, a great deal of expertise on the importance of leadership, culture, and integration is concentrated in HR. CEOs are increasingly seeking broader insight from their CHROs. This touches on the expanding or redefined role of HR in today’s workplace. In recent years, HR has moved away from being solely an administrative function that defined terms and conditions of work. HR practices now often help to implement strategy at the organization level, and as organizations seek to match their brands with their organizational culture, CHROs find themselves in an expanded role uniquely suited to support their top executives.

After looking at research from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the RBL Group, Korn Ferry determined that high performing CHROs master six competency domains that are also essential to CEO success:

  • Strategic positioner
  • Credible activist
  • Capability Builder
  • Change Champion
  • HR innovator and integrator
  • Technology (information) proponent

These HR professionals “go beyond knowing the business to helping CEOs focus strategic direction and align choices that create value for investors and customers and respond to changing external conditions.” They are able to build trusting relationships with key stakeholders like customers and investors, initiate and sustain change, recognize the importance of culture and foster theirs, innovate and integrate HR and people practices, and use workforce analytics and technology to enhance HR practices and make informed decisions.

Over the last several decades, Korn Ferry has profiled leadership styles of thousands of senior executives, including CEOs, CHROs, CFOs, CMOs, and CIOs. Their assessments gauge how much importance an individual places on 14 attributes that have been sorted into three categories: leadership style, thinking style, and emotional competencies. While the graphs below show that most best-in-class executives have a similar leadership profile, it’s clear that CEOs and CHROs are very much “cut from the same cloth”.
thinking styles chartleadership styles chartemotional competencies chartWhen Korn Ferry calculated the Euclidean Distance from the profile of the best-in-class

CEO (in which a lower number indicates more similarity), they found that overall, best-in-class CHROs (distance .735) are closer to CEOs across 14 traits than are CFOs (.82), CMOs (1.039), and CIOs (1.031).

The similarity in profiles between CEOs and CHROs helps to support the earlier explanations as to why CEOs may turn to CHROs as a main strategy ally and leadership/talent coach. Korn Ferry proposes, too, that as we continue to see these more rounded and fluid HR roles, CEO successors may come from HR in addition to more traditional areas like finance, marketing, operations and IT. As CEOs increasingly manage organizational challenges as well as customers, products, and financial concerns, CHROs may offer unique skills as a successor that others do not. Already we see that CHROs match CEOs’ leadership profiles as well or more than any other executive:Score Difference by Executive chart

Korn Ferry points out that of course, CHROs will not be considered for succession without experience in business operations. With this foundation though, top CHROs could excel as CEOs, bringing specific desired attributes such as: deep insights about their organization, high self-awareness, excellent people managing skills, and the knowledge of how to serve external stakeholders through internal actions. In short, don’t be surprised if savvy, best-in-class Gen X CHROs start replacing the aging Baby Boomer CEOs.

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Purpose: A Hedge Against Organizational Challenges

Data Point Tuesday

The Deloitte “2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study” proves it again, that those workplaces who focus on creating a meaningful environment for all their stakeholders (customers, employees, and communities) foster a culture of purpose that builds confidence, drives investment, and “can lead to competitive advantage in a time of economic vitality.” The survey was conducted in February of this year and is designed to explore the concept of workplace culture, defined by a set of timeless core values and beliefs, as a business driver. This year’s survey looks specifically at whether a strong sense of purpose leads to higher levels of confidences among stakeholders and drives business growth. Methodology included the survey of a sample of 1,053 adults (300 executives and 753 employed adults) employed full time within an organization with at least 100 employees.

Evidence from the survey indicates that focusing on purpose rather than profits is what builds business confidence. What do organizations define as purpose though? When respondents were asked about activities that are part of the purpose of their organization, the top 5 cited answers were:

  • Providing business services and/or products that have meaningful impact on clients/customers (89%)
  • Providing business services and/or products that benefit society (84%)
  • Providing employees with education, experience, and/or mentorship benefits (77%)
  • Encouraging employees to volunteer (74%)
  • Generating financial returns for our stakeholders/shareholders (69%)

Deloitte “2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study”

Deloitte also found that those respondents who agree they work for an organization with a strong sense of purpose were more likely to say their organization recorded positive growth (81% vs. 67%) and outgrew competitors (64% vs. 44%) in 2013. When looking to the future, respondents who say their organizations have a strong sense of purpose are also much more optimistic about the future prospects of their organizations: 91% of respondents who believe their organization has a strong sense of purpose feel that their company will maintain or strengthen its brand reputation and loyalty vs. 49% of respondents at organizations without a strong sense of purpose.

Organizations with a strong sense of purpose tie confidence to three main factors:

  • a commitment to delivering top quality goods/services
  • focus on long term sustainable growth
  • clear understanding of organization’s purpose and commitment to core values.

Companies reporting they do not have a strong purpose however, find confidence tied almost exclusively to financial factors:

2014 Core Beliefs and Culture Study

When looking at priorities of leadership at these companies, we see a similar trend. For organizations that report having a strong sense of purpose, making a positive impact on clients is ranked most often as the top priority for leadership vs. leadership at companies without a strong sense of purpose, who most often report short-term financial goals as their top priority (the study notes that there were no major differences in top leadership priorities as stated by employees and executives).

Purpose also appears to drive investment. Respondents at organizations with a strong sense of purpose are consistently more likely to say their organization will increase investments year over year than companies without a strong sense of purpose, especially in areas such as:

  • New technologies: 38% vs. 19%
  • Expanding into new markets: 31% vs. 21%
  • Developing new products/services: 27% vs. 17%
  • Employee development and training: 25% vs. 11%

Companies with a strong sense of purpose also perceive higher levels of confidence among key stakeholders – 89% of respondents say their clients trust that they deliver the highest quality products and services (vs. 66% at organizations without strong purpose).

If this data isn’t enough to suggest that there really is something to creating a strong sense of purpose and values at an organization, Deloitte’s data also detail that more fully engaged employees, greater diversity, and encouragement of innovation are also more present at organizations reporting a strong sense of purpose. Despite the benefits though, 20% of respondent’s state that leadership fails to set an example for the rest of the organization by truly living the organization’s purpose and 18% say it is not part of performance evaluations.

Once again, the data are persuasive. Organizations with strong missions that are focused on more than profits are clear winners creating successful, sustainable businesses. Put another way, creating a strong purpose-focused culture may be the best hedge against the difficult economic, political and talent challenges facing most organizations today.

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Leadership Challenges, Critical Skills and the Importance of Gender Diversity

Data Point Tuesday
Development Dimensions International (DDI)
and The Conference Board have recently released a report, “Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015.” This report, the seventh of its kind published by DDI, includes survey responses from 13,124 leaders, 1,528 global human resource executives, and 2,031 participating organizations. The volume of respondents allowed DDI to look at findings from a variety of perspectives – multinational vs. local corporations, spans four leadership levels and leaders/HR professionals of different genders, ages, 48 countries, and 32 major industry categories. The report is comprehensive and contains more than one blog post’s worth of data and insight, so I’ll just pull a few of the highlights here… But if you find the data interesting make sure to take a look at the full report for more information!

Let’s start by looking at top challenges of leadership cited in the report. According to the research, the top four CEO challenges are Human Capital, Customer Relations, Innovation, and Operational Excellence. When responding CEOs were asked to identify strategies to address the human capital challenge, four of the top strategies cited included a focus on leadership:

  • improve leadership development programs,
  • enhance the effectiveness of senior management teams,
  • improve the effectiveness of frontline supervisors and managers, and
  • improve succession planning

Though the top three cited strategies for combating the human capital challenge were to: provide employee training and development, raise employee engagement, and improve performance management processes and accountability, the fact that a focus on leadership was present among the top 10 strategies suggests that leaders recognize that organizations cannot develop and retain highly engaged, productive employees without effective leadership and leadership development programs.

Top CEO ChallengesCEOs surveyed also identified the leadership attributes and behaviors they perceived as most critical to success as a leader:

  • retain and develop talent
  • manage complexity
  • lead change
  • lead with integrity, and
  • have an entrepreneurial mind-set.

Unfortunately, no more than 50% of leaders assessed their own readiness to address such tasks as “very prepared.” And HR leaders’ perceptions were even more grim, with only 9% indicating their leaders were “very ready” to address the human capital challenge.

When HR professionals were asked to rank two critical leader skills for leaders’ success in the next three years, and how much their organization’s current development programs focuses on them, the level of focus of most skills corresponded to how critical the skills were perceived to be for the future. However, there were some interesting exceptions:

Critical SkillsAs you can see in the above graphic, two skills that were listed by HR as most critical (fostering employee creativity and innovation/leading across countries and cultures) are not actually being focused on, while building consensus and commitment/communicating and interacting with others are two skills not listed by HR as highly critical to the future yet are being heavily focused on. DDI informs us that because these are foundational skills it’s easy for HR to either overemphasize or undervalue them, which supports the data we see in the graphic.

While DDI and The Conference Board’s report is chock full of fascinating data like those mentioned above, it has been getting wide attention for a particular section of the report: the section on gender diversity. The report indicates that organizations with better financial performance have more women in leadership roles. Organizations in the top 20% for financial performance report 37% of all leaders are women vs. organizations in the bottom 20%, which report that only 19% of all leaders are women.

Women in LeadershipWhile this clearly points to the positive benefits of gender diversity, at the same time, it highlights how disturbingly imbalanced the gender demographics still are when it comes to leadership. DDI’s survey explains this imbalance in several ways. There was no significant difference between the men and women in the study when it came to leadership skills or ability to handle management and business challenges, however, a noted difference between sexes were their levels of confidence. Women were less likely than men to rate themselves as effective leaders, as having completed international assignments, lead across geographies or countries, or lead geographically dispersed teams. The study cites these global or more visible leadership experiences as key missed opportunities, because leaders who had access to these experiences were far more likely to be promoted and to advance more quickly in their organizations.

Gender DifferencesThe bottom line is that this data supports what we know about diversity in its entirety: fostering and encouraging diversity in the workplace is always something to strive for as it inherently leads to more diversity of ideas, problem solving, productivity and financial success!

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Filed under China Gorman, Critical Skills, Data Point Tuesday, Development Dimensions International, Gender Diversity, HR, HR Data, Human Resources, Leadership, Leadership Challenges, The Conference Board, Workplace Studies

The Urgency of Leadership Development

Data Point Tuesday
In March I discussed a few takeaways from Deloitte’sGlobal Human Capital Trends 2014” survey. After relooking through the report, I think it would be worthwhile to mention some of the other global trends for 2014. I previously discussed the need to reskill HR teams, one of the top four (out of 12) global trends that survey respondents perceived as most urgent. I did not, however, discuss the top trend perceived as most urgent by responders, that is, the need to build global leadership. Fully 38% of respondents rated this as “urgent,” 50% more than the next trend identified as “urgent.” At the time of the study, companies reported generally low levels of readiness to respond to the global trends mentioned in the report, and despite the fact that at least 60% of respondents identified these global trends as “important” or “urgent,” in all, 36% of respondents reported being “not ready” to respond to the trends. This is a significantly higher percentage than those reporting they were ready to respond to the trends (at only 16%). With us now more than half way through 2014, I’m hoping this particular statistic has shifted a bit, but we don’t have that data yet!

Deloitte urgency graph

We do know that building better leadership is a “hot-topic” trend we’ve seen repeated recently in many reports or white-papers; it’s certainly not unique to only this report. I think with trends like these it’s important to reflect on the proposed reasons: why is building better leadership perceived as so highly important now? Did we have better leadership in the past? Are leaders lacking necessary skills today, or are we simply lacking in an adequate bench of leadership? Deloitte’s study offers some insightful points. “In a world where knowledge doubles every year and skills have a half-life of 2.5 to 5 years, leaders need to constantly develop.” Consider, as well, globalization and the speed (not to mention breadth) of technological change and development, which highly fuel this need to constantly develop. Perhaps another point that highlights the reason that “leadership” remains the #1 talent issue facing organizations today is that this term encompasses leadership at every level of an organization (we’re not solely talking about developing the next CEO or the C-Suite pipeline). “21st-century leadership is different. Companies face new leadership challenges, including developing Millennials and multiple generations of leaders, meeting the demand for leaders with global fluency and flexibility, building the ability to innovate and inspire others to perform, and acquiring new levels of understanding of rapidly changing technologies and new disciplines and fields”.

According to those surveyed in Deloitte’s report, only 13 percent of companies rate themselves “excellent” in providing leadership programs at all levels—new leaders, next-generation leaders, and senior leaders. Furthermore, 66% of respondents believe they are “weak” in their ability to develop Millennial leaders (only 5 percent rate themselves as “excellent”) and only 8% believe they have “excellent” programs to build global skills and experiences. 51% of respondents have little confidence in their ability to maintain clear, consistent succession programs. In terms of skills, Deloitte’s research shows that foundational along with new leadership, these skills are in high demand: business acumen, the ability to collaborate and build cross-functional teams, global cultural agility (the ability to manage diversity and inclusion), creativity, customer-centricity, influence and inspiration, and the ability to develop people and create effective teams.

Deloitte leadership programs graph

With this data in mind, we can then ask the question how can organizations “get ready” to address the trend of building global leadership. Deloitte offers four potential starting points:

  1. Engage top executives to develop leadership strategy and actively govern leadership development,
  2. Align and refresh leadership strategies and development to evolving business goals,
  3. Focus on three aspects of developing leaders (develop leaders at all levels, develop global leaders locally, develop a succession mindset),
  4. Implement an effective leadership program.

While all of these approaches will likely involve a significant investment of time and resources along with a commitment to leadership from the board and executive team, they are doable – companies both small and large on our Best Companies to Work for Lists are a testament to this!

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Trust Is In Short Supply – All Over the World!

Data Point Tuesday

The recently released 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, highlights a degradation of trust between people and the institution of government, recording the biggest gap in trust since the study began in 2001. Edelman attributes this gap to “a continued destruction of trust in government that began in 2011, and a steady rise in belief in business since its nadir in 2008.” In almost half of the 27 countries surveyed, Edelman recorded a gap of 20+ points, with some countries reporting a divide of nearly 40 points. This means that people trust business more than they trust their government. The study is the firm’s 14th annual trust and credibility survey; it sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an over- sample of 6,000 informed publics ages 25-64 across 27 countries.

Globally, and overall, trust declined over the last year. Edelman cites the reason for this decline due largely in part to falling trust of government in many countries. Poland, the United States, and Mexico experienced the most major trust declines (-13, -10, and -9 points), while the biggest increases in trust occurred in UAE, Indonesia, Australia and Argentina (+13, +10, +8, +8 points). General public populations reported substantially lower trust levels than informed publics, with a global trust difference of 9 points. Government saw the largest decline in trust of any institution in 2014, with the largest drops in trust in government seen in the U.S., France and Hong Kong (16, 17 and 18 points). Media also saw a decline in 2014, with nearly 80 percent of countries reporting trusting media less over the last year.

Edelmam Graphic 1Edelman’s Trust Barometer reports that trust in business has achieved an amount of stability since the implosion of trust in 2008 and 2009. With trust in business leveling out, and trust in government declining, comes the historic gap of 14 points globally between trust in business and trust in government. Despite this decline in trust of government though, the survey reports a strong demand for government regulation of business to protect consumers, with over 50% of respondents viewing government protection of consumers from business as important. The majority of respondents did not, however, see government as capable of delivering the necessary regulations on its own. 79% of respondents agreed: “when policymakers are developing new regulations on businesses and industries, they should consult with multiple stakeholders (i.e. NGOs, academics, the affected businesses/industries, etc.) before making final decisions.” As the survey states, this indicates “a significant level of permission for business to play a role in the debate and design of regulation”.

Edelman Graphic 2When it comes to trust in specific industries, technology leads the front with a trust level of 79% among informed publics. Media companies and banks trail when it comes to trust, seeing little improvement since 2009. The top five countries with the highest levels of trust in markets were (in order): Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and the U.K.. BRIC countries recorded the lowest levels of market trust. When Edelman asked respondents to rank levels of trust based on business ownership structure, family-owned and small- & medium-sized business outperformed big business in all regions but Asia, where publicly-traded and big business companies received higher trust levels. A major concern however, is the plateauing and distrust in leadership that the Trust Barometer records. Academics and experts (67 percent), technical experts (66 percent) and “a person like yourself” (62 percent) are the most trusted sources of information about companies (trust in “a person like yourself” increased significantly since 2009). CEOs and government leaders however, remain at the bottom of the list for both informed and general publics, with extremely low levels of trust.

Edelman Graphic 3Though concerning and perhaps daunting, this speaks clearly to an opportunity that leadership has to engage and communicate transparently – an opportunity to begin to regain a credible voice and change perceptions. For leaders of companies, trust in them is explicably linked with the trust in the company, and the influence they wield because of that cannot be ignored. The Edelman Trust Barometer identified specific actions CEOs can take to build trust, and each actions level of importance to the general public. The highest-ranking actions included: communicating clearly and transparently (82%), telling the truth regardless of how complex or unpopular it is (81%) and engaging with employees regularly (80%). Other high-ranking actions include being visible during challenging times, and having an active media presence. Though the low levels of trust in business leadership seem to indicate it’s a complex thing to build, respondents indicate it’s simply about going back to basics. Engage, support, and don’t forget that important rule folks, honesty is the best policy!

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