Are you leading with values and trust?


Are you leading with values and trust?

Published: Wed 30 Aug 2017, 4:23 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Aug 2017, 11:29 AM

In the last article, we explored empathy and how emotional intelligence must be at the core of your organisation in order to build that emotional connection internally with your employees and externally to your customers.
As we examine a different aspect that helps build that elusive emotional connection, have you noticed how each time the starting point on the road for change has been you? This week is no different as we take a look at values and how credibility is becoming more and more important in today's transparent media climate.
How you show up at work?
We are living in times of fast change. In a recent blog post, Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, accused management practice of being frozen in time for more than 30 years. By 2020, over half the global workforce will be millenials and in the Middle East, this figure is much higher. Jim Clifton explains: "Millennials place 'my job' equally or even ahead of 'my family' as their dream. So, because their life is more focused on work, they need to draw more from their work environment. They have their best friends at work - including best friends who are customers. They want meaningful work and to stay with an organisation that helps them grow and develop."
In order to understand what makes work meaningful to your team members, let's consider how values form a major component of what makes anything meaningful to anyone, including you.
Values are the invisible driving force behind your thoughts, actions and reactions. They are your personal horsepower, unconsciously steering you to what is important to you and they evolve over time, influenced by personal experience as well as social and cultural change. One can say that Clifton has perhaps identified a value gap between leaders and their employees. Is this gap the reason why employees and customer are disengaging your brand?
Your values act like a compass, determining how you lead in two ways. The first is a filter on your perception. This affects how you perceive the events and people around you and impacts strategies, choices, behaviours, decisions and ultimately organisational performance. Many studies have shown that a leader's values may be more influential than age, tenure, experience and education in predicting business success in the form of tangible performance. How well do you recognise and understand your own values and how well is your behaviour aligned with your core values?
The second way values influence your leadership style is in the role they play in strategy formation; affecting your relationships with employees and customers. Michael E. Porter, economist, author and professor at Harvard Business School, identified the importance of the values of senior management as a primary component of competitive strategy. Your values permeate your employee's behaviour and ultimately company's image and brand. Being explicit about your values and that of your team, you can build trust in your build and trust with customers much more quickly. However, your success is directly linked to how genuine your actions are with regards to operating authentically from your values.
An age of increasing distrust?
Trust is the sense that others will act in our best interests and relies heavily on the authenticity of how behaviours are in alignment to values as well as constancy and repetition.
Trust is hard to win and easy to lose. In a recent global survey titled '2017 Edelman Trust Barometer', the state of trust seems to be in crisis. "Trust in all four institutions - business, government, NGOs and media - to do what is right declined broadly in 2017, a phenomenon not recorded since Edelman began tracking trust. Two-thirds of countries now fall into "distruster" territory, with trust levels below 50 per cent."
They survey goes on to specify: "Further underscoring the trust crisis is the lack of credibility of leadership. Only 37 per cent of the general population now say CEOs are credible, and 29 percent say the same about government officials."
In terms of the mass population's trust in institutions, the UAE hovers at 59 per cent in the neutral category, three places above the majority of countries which fall below the 50 per cent threshold for distrusting. Interestingly, only three countries of the 28 surveyed score above 60 per cent rating to qualify as trusters, these are India (70 per cent), Indonesia (67 per cent) and China (62 per cent).
In the same survey, the top three areas rated by the general population as important to build trust in a company are: Treats employees well (62 per cent), offers high quality of products/services (59 per cent) and listens to customers (58 per cent). These figures do not surprise me. In the first few months of 2017, we have watched as major organisations such as United Airlines, Pepsi and Uber mess up publicly, their CEOs seemingly detached from any social or cultural values. No wonder trust is in decline.
Your principles and ethics as a leader transmutes into the shared values of your employees. It is the authentic, consistent and repeated delivery of actions that will build trust with customers.
The writer is founder and executive and marketing coach, Your Neuro Coach, The Change Associates. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

By Rania Laing

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