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Leaders, do you have a trust deficit?

The Edelman Trust Barometer is a highly-regarded, reliable survey that assesses the degree of trust and credibility in global organizations and government entities. The 2013 executive summary is now available.

This year’s survey, Edelman Berman‘s 13th annual barometer, shows that trust is taking a beating in our organizations.

Some “highlights” (they’re really lowlights) include only 18% of 26,000 respondents around the globe believe that business leaders tell the truth, regardless of how complex or unpopular it is. Only 19% believe business leaders make ethical and moral decisions; 20% believe business leaders correct issues within industries that are experiencing problems.

Ratings for government leaders is even worse. Only 13% of respondents believe government leaders will tell the truth; 14% believe government leaders make ethical and moral decisions; 15% believe government leaders correct issues within industries that are experiencing problems.

Globally, the two least-trusted businesses are banks and financial institutions, each with only 50% of respondents scoring those businesses as trustworthy. The highest-scoring businesses were technology companies (77% trust rating) and automotive companies (69% trust rating).

One additional lowlight to report: respondents trust businesses more than they trust business leaders. Globally, 50% of respondents have trust in business while only 18% trust in business leaders, a 32-point trust gap! In the U.S., the gap is worse: 50% of US respondents trust businesses while only 15% trust business leaders.

Should leaders care about trust?

If leaders want to create safe, inspiring workplaces for their employees, they should absolutely care about trust. Tony Simons’ research on behavioral integrity found that when employees believe their leaders model their organization’s values and keep their promises, employees apply discretionary effort in service to the team’s goals and customers.

The benefit? In one hotel chain, profits rose by over $250,000 for every 1/4 point gain on a 10-point behavioral integrity scale. That’s a hard-dollar trust benefit that is hard to ignore.

How do leaders learn whether they are trusted or not?

Ask. Seek out truth-tellers among peers and team members who’s opinions you value. Learn others’ perceptions. Then decide if you’re willing to refine your behaviors to improve trust.

How can leaders improve their trustworthiness?

Tony Simons’ suggestions are rock-solid: leaders can boost trust and credibility by demonstrating their organization’s values and by doing what they say they will do, every interaction.

In addition, I’ve studied the best practices of #GREATBosses for over a decade. GREAT bosses consistently do five things: they inspire growth, honor relationships, inspire excellence, ensure accountability, and spur teamwork.

Learn more about what GREAT bosses do in my new ebook, “Be a GREAT Boss,” available free when you subscribe to my weekly blog and podcast updates.

How strong is your trust of business leaders? What did your GREAT bosses do to build and maintain trust and respect? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

What is it like to work in your company culture? Contribute your experiences in my fast, free Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are available on the research page of my blog site, Driving Results Through Culture.

How does your boss fare in my new Great Boss Assessment? This fast & free survey takes only minutes. Results and analysis will appear on the research page of my blog site,Driving Results Through Culture, once we reach 100 global respondents.

Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes. The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music ASCAP. I play all instruments on these recordings.

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