Visibility boosts trust in leaders

Just one in four people trust business leaders although, surprisingly, millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to believe that they tell the truth, act in an ethical way and are a force for good than older generations, a report claims.

But the IPSOS Global Trustworthiness Monitor also found that just one in five Brits trust business leaders to tell the truth while nearly half (48 per cent) actively mistrust them. And only 18 per cent of respondents trust business leaders to care for the environment.

However, one in two Brits believe that business leaders have a responsibility to speak out on social and political issues affecting the country, while 37 per cent say they have overtaken politicians as a force for progressive change.

The report explains that trust in leadership has a significant impact on work outcomes. Two in three employees trust the decisions made by their management, but those who do not are six times more likely to leave within the year.

Employees who believe communication is open and honest are 54 points more likely to recommend their company as a place to work.

Separate research by Ipsos Karian and Box reveals that authentic and empathetic leadership communication is vital in building trust, but so too is the choice of channel. Trust was particularly high during the pandemic when leaders communicated on a regular basis via online video platforms, blogs and podcasts.

Such visibility worked in leaders’ favour, but trust has slipped over the past 18 months as they have reverted to email communications as their working lives return to normal.

Ipsos Karian and Box find that trust is highest – above 80 per cent – in organisations where leaders organise personal visits and small group chats, although relatively few choose these channels.