Leadership

Survey Shows Leaders Are Struggling to Maintain Trust

By Anita Ferrer / Jan 25, 2013 (Flickr/jcc_seveq)

Global “Trust Barometer” study uncovers low trust toward business and government leaders, as well as financial institutions.

Are we in the midst of a leadership crisis? Richard Edelman is sure of it.

Now is the time for business to go beyond simply earning the license to operate toward earning a license to lead, serving the needs of both shareholders and broader stakeholders by being profitable and a positive force in society.

“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,” the president and CEO of public relations firm Edelman said in a statement.

His worry stems from the results of the firm’s yearly global survey, known as the “Trust Barometer.” 2013′s study showed that less than one in five people trust their leaders to tell the truth when confronted with a conflict.

The survey rallied about 31,000 respondents spread throughout 26 countries and in different markets. Some highlights from the study:

Individual vs. Institutions: According to the “Trust Barometer,” there’s a lack of trust in business and government leaders, but not in the insititution. 50 percent of respondents trust businesseses to do the right thing while only 18 percent trust business leaders to tell the truth. These results are not surprising after the years of economic strife and poor government and institutional solutions. If leaders are slow to support and adapt, their followers are sure to dwindle. ”Suffice it to say, there is nothing more top down than trying to lead the world from high up a mountain,” the Economist suggests. According to the study, trust is slowly improving from the past three years when they’ve seen similar results in these sectors.

Tech Rules: The trust trophy goes to tech companies, with 77 percent of respondents saying they trust technology companies, including social networks despite privacy concerns. These ranks stem from both developed and emerging markets. According to Edelman’s global practice Chair Ben Boyd, this shows the tech industry has an upper hand over all the other sectors when it comes to innovation. “Innovative products and making money are now table stakes,” he said in a statement. “Now is the time for business to go beyond simply earning the license to operate toward earning a license to lead, serving the needs of both shareholders and broader stakeholders by being profitable and a positive force in society.”

The Rise Of NGOs: Along with some media sectors, NGOs received a better individual and institutional rating than business and government combined. NGOs, a category which includes nonprofits and trade organizations, received a rating of 63 percent, a growth of 5 points from 2012. NGO representatives improved in percentage as well, getting more than 50 percent approval rating.

What do you think of the study’s results? Share your insights in the comment section below.

Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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