LSA Global Insights Newsletter: How to Build Higher Levels of Trust in Leaders

July 23, 2017

How to Build Higher Levels of Trust in Leaders

Silhouette of one businessman lending a hand to another over a chasm

Based upon the results of over 500,000 employee engagement responses per year over the last 15 years, one area stands out as having the highest correlation to high levels of employee engagement compared to any other - the ability of Leaders to Build Trust. 

And companies with higher levels of employee engagement report 18% greater productivity, 12% higher customer satisfaction and 51% less voluntary turnover while companies with less engaged employees report 12% lower profits, 19% lower operating income and 28% lower earnings per share. So employee engagement matters to the people and to the business. 

Unfortunately, recent research shows that less than half of employees trust senior management, and less than one-third believe CEOs are a trustworthy source of information. 

"Trust in Leaders" measures the degree to which employees believe that the leaders responsible for setting the direction of the organization are capable and trustworthy. This is not only about trust in the strategic direction itself, but also about trust in those who are setting the direction. Why? Because our research shows it is possible to believe in the direction without fully believing in the ability and integrity of leadership to steer the company effectively to get there.

The Definition of Leaders
We define leaders as those responsible for the direction and goals of the company. While each company defines leaders a bit differently, for purposes of our research, they typically consist of those with a manager title and above. 

The Questions Related to Trust in Leaders
Are your leaders trustworthy? Back in the 1980's, Stephen Covey defined trust as the combination of character and competence. It makes sense to us that leaders need to have both traits to be trusted. A person of high character and integrity but who does not produce results is not credible or trustworthy at work because they do not get things done. And conversely, a person who gets things done but has questionable character is also not credible. If you are not credible at work, you are not trustworthy.  

To test the level of trustworthiness of leaders, we typically use four measures: 
1.     I trust the leaders of this organization to set the right course.
2.     I trust the senior leadership team to lead the company to future success. 
3.     I believe the leaders of this organization are honest and trustworthy. 
4.     The leaders of this organization demonstrate integrity. 
All four questions have between a .73 and .77 correlation with employee engagement and rank in the top ten out of all the questions we ask in our Best Places to Work survey each and every year.  

Voice of the Customer

"We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a management development solution to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution with the support systems necessary to make a real difference. I recommend them to anyone looking for real results."
Sally Buchannan | VP Human Resources | Sony

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned