Infect your workplace—with trust

Do you trust your leaders?

According to the attendees in a webinar presented by Ed Cohen*, 86% said no. During his webinar, we were asked whether we agreed with the statement:

Trust in companies and business leaders is at an all-time-low.

85% of attendees agreed. Another 7% were indifferent. If this audience represents the general public and you’re a leader, odds are that at best only 1 in 5 of the people you lead trust you. How do we get to such a depressing statistic?

How we got there doesn’t matter. What matters now is what we do about it. Also, I don’t hear anyone asking, so I’ll just put the question out there: Is “trust” in companies and business leaders really important? I mean, leadership was hired for a reason; surely they know what they’re doing. How could I possibly know what it’s like to sit where they are and face what they face? Does it matter if I trust them or not?

Okay, silly question, but I had to make sure it was asked.


Why? Because talent has the option to leave.

Besides all of the underlying moral and ethical reasons, trust in your business and its leadership is critical because employees rule today’s market. Despite high unemployment rates, businesses around the world are finding their recruiting efforts for qualified talent are turning up short. The key word here is QUALIFIED.

Global markets are seeing huge gaps between their openings and the range of candidates who are actually qualified to fill those openings. This gap is up to 76% in some countries and gaps that hover around 50% are common around the world.

What this means for companies is that your talent is extremely valuable, not only to you but to other companies who are willing to pay more than you are. So, in this employee-driven market, how do you get your employees to “stick” around?


Speaker for the webinar, Ed Cohen, explains that you need to go beyond compensation. You need to build relationships and increase employee engagement. But how do you do that when your company is made up of people that come from so many different backgrounds? Your company includes people with jobs of different skill levels. These people have different goals and aspirations. They have different needs and go home to different family structures and maintain a variety of political views. What is the commonality that binds people together?

Core values.

Core values are the glue that strengthens relationships and gets employees to “stick” around. Do you know what the core values are in your company? If you know what they are, does anyone else know what they are?

You can register here to see a recording of the webinar, so I won’t go into detail about how to bring about core values in your workplace. Instead, I’ll share the three things that really stood out for me.

  1. Morale building is pointless without values: All your parties, picnics, tchotchkes, and fancy compensation packages don’t mean anything without a solid set of core values. Not only are all the “fun” extras meaningless in a value-less company, but they also negate employee engagement.
  2. Skunks make everyone stink: If a leader walks into a room of leaders smelling like a skunk, all leaders walk out smelling like skunks. One bad leader can ruin the trust relationship established with all the other leaders.
  3. STOP LOOKING THE OTHER WAY! As Ed Cohen put it, “stop pretending that you don’t know what it’s like to sit in the chair of decision-makers.” Of course you know what it’s like to make decisions that affect the business and the people involved. We’re intelligent people. If someone makes a bad decision…well, we all do that. It happens. But if someone is consistently making bad decisions, the situation can’t be ignored. Call people on their bad behavior. Don’t be silent. At the very least, make a decision to work somewhere else.

The lack of trust in leadership is a growing problem. Ed Cohen notes that companies talk about “empowering leaders at all levels,” but few actually follow through. But we don’t have to be powerless to the whims of leadership; we can infect the system from the bottom up. Cohen closed his presentation with three questions for the audience:

To bring core values into your company: 1. What are you going to START doing? 2. What are you going to STOP doing? 3. What are you going to CONTINUE doing?

What I enjoyed most about Ed Cohen’s presentation is that it left me feeling empowered. I have tools for making an impact on improving leadership in all of my endeavors. It all starts with how I do the things that I do everyday. Standing tall and modeling core values in all that I do, makes it easier for me to hold others accountable. If we hold others accountable, then we can all start standing for what’s right.

So what are YOU going to start/stop/continue doing to bring core values into your work or company?

*’s webinar on August 24, 2011 was presented by Ed Cohen of Nelson Cohen Global Consulting and sponsored by Cornerstone On Demand. Priscilla “Pris” Nelson was also scheduled to present, but was unable to make it. Register here to watch the recording.


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