Did a lack of leadership courage push trust off a cliff?

trust2A recent Forbes article aptly titled: “Trust in Business Falls off a Cliff”[1] summarizes the results of a national survey of over 440 companies across industries. It clearly describes a precipitous decline and record low levels of trust in management:

  • Only 31% of respondents said their organization has effective leadership
  • Only 27% of respondents said they have a “high level of trust in management and the organization”. That’s down from 39% three years ago.

Six years ago, when Steven Covey wrote The Speed of Trust, 47% of workers had a high level of trust.

The good news… today’s responses were significantly more positive in high-performing organizations.


Trust is essential to true leadership, and courage drives trust

  • When doctors admitted mistakes and apologized – contrary to common wisdom – the number of malpractice lawsuits dwindled.[2]
  • When leaders consistently and authentically provide clear expectations and give clear feedback about gaps and how to improve, both performance and morale improve.
Examples of courageous leadership
  •   Being consistently authentic and transparent
  •   Giving people clear, specific expectations and feedback
  •   Being ‘other-centered’
  •   Sharing responsibility for the team’s victories
  •   Including people in changes that have a significant effect on them
Why doesn’t straight talk happen more often?
  • The feeling of career instability that often accompanies an economic downturn has an impact.
  • Often, the fear of insulting and potentially losing a key employee causes anxiety.
  • The longer discussion is delayed, the easier it is to continue to procrastinate. Many poorly-conceived emails are launched during this period of anxiety – often with disastrous consequences.

“Rebuilding trust starts with self awareness and an understanding that there is no silver bullet.”

Committing to sustainable change means seeking feedback and guided practice of new skills and behaviors – even when it’s not fun; even when it’s downright uncomfortable at times. The Stage uses a confidential robust assessment and feedback process that includes personality profile and 360° feedback, and results in clear measurable development goals and coaching plan. The result is ‘communication tools in your leadership toolbox’ that are natural and authentic, and there when you need them to support leadership courage and a culture of trust in your organization.


  1. Containing toxic leadership damage: The courage to act | The Stage - August 20, 2013

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