Trust has imploded according to this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer. CEO credibility is now at an all-time low, having dropped 12 percentage points to just 37 percent.
As I ponder these results, I can’t help but feel that the communications profession must shoulder at least some of the blame for erosion of trust in leadership.
In recent years, the internal communications industry has been steadily more resourced, professionalised and invested in. We’ve practised and perfected the art of crafting the perfect announcement, talking points or script on behalf of – or for – our leaders.
We’ve media trained our senior executives, coached them on what to say and wordsmithed content to incorporate key messages.
Along the way, we’ve sacrificed authenticity as a result. Employees see straight through the vanilla. It jars with the raw and bona fide voice they access in peer-to-peer communication and ‘unofficial’ sources.
No wonder we’ve lost all trust in our leaders as a result.
Now is the time to act
As an internal communicator we cannot continue to help further damage leadership credibility. We must partner with the leaders we support, and balance the goal of strategic communications with authentic and transparent communications.
Less perfect. More personality.
We need to adapt how we work – coaching not doing; advising not controlling.
And leaders must play their part too: making time to inject their own personality into communications and working with us to incorporate personal stories and experiences. We have to be braver and we have to push for transparency and openness.
Today’s report is the overdue wake-up call we needed.