The AoEC is launching an initiative this week designed to build a new generation of trusted leaders based on a comprehensive analysis of the core characteristics of a trusted leader. The AoEC’s work has identified ‘trust vacuums’ across an array of institutions and market sectors that create opportunities for both malicious disruptors and emerging leaders. The US presidential race, by common consent, is an example of this phenomenon.
John Blakey (pictured right), author of ‘The Trusted Executive’, who is leading the AoEC initiative, has identified three fundamental qualities that are necessary for people to trust a leader: ability (able to deliver results), integrity (reliable in behaviours and maintains a consistent set of values) and benevolence (doesn’t act purely in own interest).
According to Omnibus polling for the AoEC, 57% of people over the age of 55 say they have lost trust in corporations, businesses and other institutions in recent years, with virtually no one (2%) saying their levels of trust have improved. Conversely, people under 25 appear to be less cynical, with over a third saying they have more trust in these institutions than they had previously.
Distrust of politicians was particularly high among older people, with less than 7% of over 55s saying that they trusted MPs and nearly three quarters indicating that they did not trust them. This compares to nearly a quarter of 18 – 24 year olds who trust politicians. This cynicism towards politicians, particularly among older people, could explain the post-truth anti-establishment phenomenon of Donald Trump who is seen by some as an alternative to the politics as usual, despite many fact-checking websites pointing out the multitude of inaccuracies in his public pronouncements.
When asked to think about which attributes they looked for in a potential leader, honesty, fairness and the ability to deliver results were viewed as the most important across all age groups; however, communication skills and creative thinking were valued more highly by young people than older generations.
Gina Lodge (pictured right), CEO of the Academy of Executive Coaching, said: “Without question our polling indicates that we are seeing a crisis in trust across many sections of society. Many of our institutions have been rocked by scandals in recent years and we have seen many familiar names disappear from our high streets. It is crucial for business leaders and politicians to address this problem and rebuild trust.”
Gina Lodge added: “The decline in trust that we are seeing creates a difficult context for business leaders and politicians, but it should also be seen as a potential opportunity. Organisations that can demonstrate their trustworthiness will be richly rewarded and develop a loyal following that is becoming all too rare nowadays.”
The report also found significant distrust of the media, with people generally more likely to believe what they read online compared to what they read in a newspaper. Broadcast media was the most trusted source of information across all age groups apart from those under 25, who viewed online and broadcast media as equally reliable.
The league table of organisations showed that people had least trust in politicians and trusted high street retailers most: