One of the most common complaints from employees about leadership is that leaders don't 'walk the talk.' It creates a lack of trust - spurring resistance to goals and negative employee interactions. Making it hard to generate cultural change longer term.
And while everyone likes to blame leaders for this perceived lack of integrity, aligning our intentions with our actions is difficult. Sometimes people misread our actions because they don't understand the context driving our behaviours. While other times, we are not aware that there is a disconnect.
Back when I was a kid in the 1980s, I attended one of my father’s business classes that he taught at a University. As an awkward 12 year old, in a class of what seemed like adults, I learnt about vision and mission statements. It made total sense and I fervently believed all companies needed to have them.
A few years ago, I remember reading a glowing interview with the CEO of a large Australian firm about the organisation’s sharemarket success and his new strategic plan. Everywhere you turned there was a business magazine promoting the words of the CEO and his ambitious Asian Pacific focused strategy, while he mocked other Australian companies for not following suit.
Over the years, I have worked with many low trust teams to improve their performance. Repeatedly, I still see well-meaning leaders inadvertently destroy trust in their teams.
Trust is the cornerstone of business. It’s the basis of every human relationship, every interaction, every communication, every initiative, every work project and even any strategic imperative you need to accomplish.
When it comes to helping companies build trust internally, one of the things I learnt pretty quickly is that if 1-2 members of the executive team do not support any initiatives to improve trust then all subsequent efforts will fail.