There is much conversation taking place about the need for trust in the workplace and many organisations’ engagements surveys have identified how employees do not trust their ‘leaders’, whilst comparatively speaking, their direct managers are often trusted more. In our work with large and medium sized businesses, there are often very good reasons why leaders are not trusted. And employees in the the HR departments are often not brave enough to point these reasons out to those leaders.
So firstly, let me say that I am speaking about the leaders in other’s organisations, and not yours (our readers). So I recognise how brave I’m having to be, to say boldly why – but lets speak the truth and outline the top 10 reasons why leaders are not trusted, and why they should not be trusted!
1. They lack integrity.
Leaders in this category may advocate and may be heard to advocate values, morals or ethics that are worthy but their behaviour is not congruent with what they say. There is a disconnect between what they say and what they do, and these cracks in the integrity of who they say they are, are clearly seen by their employees as flaws in either their competence or their character. Employees are intelligent and aware and they know if they are being fed lies or half versions of the truth.
2. They are disrespectful of others – colleagues or employees
Arrogance is often a quality that arises in leaders who have aspired over a period of time to achieve senior leadership, and if unchecked, it manifests as disrespect of others who have not achieved so much. Instead of class distinction, this feature is seen as work distinctions where leaders see their time as more important and keep others waiting, cancelling their appointments or ignoring them if they pass them by. Disrespect is also seen by how much time they allow others to speak, versus themselves, how much they listen to others, take note of what they say or include others contributions into the mix. Leaders demonstrate trust when views different from theirs can be expressed in their presence and can be seen to be valued. Disrespectful leaders do not value diversity when people or their views are different to their own.
3. They don’t like to hear the truth
Leaders who do not have emotional self control and permit themselves emotional outbursts, or behaviours that are unpredictable, can’t be trusted to behave in ways that are consistent and reliable. Employees that are in fear of their boss having a ‘hissy’ fit or losing it, will not trust them to speak the truth to them, and they will quite rightly not trust them to be understanding or helpful when they actually do need their help. Admitting vulnerability to someone who may respond in two widely divergent ways is unsafe and unlikely to occur. This ensures that leaders do not get to hear all that they need to hear in order to make appropriate decisions and therefore their ability to help, advise or sort problems out becomes seriously hindered. But leaders need to know that this is a situation they are creating, not one that their employees are creating.
4. They use their power to benefit themselves
The benefits, salaries and bonuses that are paid to leaders are often unbelievable and so distorted against the comparative values of their employees, that in employees eyes they cannot be justified. Such evidence of self serving behaviour is often attempted to be swept under the carpet or not allowed to be spoken about in the corporate environment, but it is certainly spoken about by employees, and do not trust their leaders to not do this, if they demonstrate year after year that they do! Such use of power is often delegated, enabling those surrounding the top table to also share in the benefits, leading to the creation of a culture of entitlement that can also be not trusted.
2 April 2014