A recent survey of 400 top global companies found that barely a quarter of the employees in such places trusted their employers. Three in ten said their leadership was ineffective.

What does a leader do in this situation? Some companies appear to have found effective means to tackle this trust deficit and build confidence among stakeholders. One of the biggest differentiators is that they were seen as having leaders who were “transparent, consistent and predictable in their decisions and actions.” It seems that transparency in decision-making is a distinction shared by highly successful organisations. There are things which leaders can do to build transparency. These include expressing the rationale for actions and decisions, externalising one’s thought process so that employees can give inputs, communicating both what’s known and what’s not known, keeping an open-door/open-cubicle policy and sharing feelings during uncertain times.

Leaders are human, just like employees. When they express their own emotions and thoughts to them, it builds empathy, and it clears the way for them to reciprocate. Trust can’t begin to be established without that.

(Adapted from How to build trust with employees and drive stronger results by Linda Stewart, American Management Association)

(This article was published on September 13, 2012)
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