Volume 5, Issue 2

February 2016

Blue Ridge Conference

Save the Date:

October 5 - 7, 2016

Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

Black Mountain, NC


"A  leader’s greatest challenge today is to win the trust from those for whom they lead."

The leaders who win this battle are those who communicate openly and often, have a clear and committed communications policy, initiate formal and informal programs, and assess their own performance.  Leaders too often talk about having trust, rather than building trust. Trust is something that must be earned. It is not something that today’s leaders can take for granted, because both internal work forces and external publics are increasingly cynical.

Building trust in an organization’s leadership requires a personal effort on the part of the leaders themselves.  And the corporate function most likely to support leaders’ efforts to build or sustain trust is communications.  Communications cannot make a person trust someone who is basically untrustworthy. But it can help create a culture in which trust can thrive.

Why should CEOs, and senior managers  care about building trust? Aren’t there already too many things to worry about nowadays, such as sustaining profitability in a cutthroat, competitive environment? And what about that stagnating share price or those restructuring projects that never seem to produce all the promised benefits?

“Leaders are people who are followed,” says Diane Bean, executive vice-president, human resources and communication for a large Fortune 500 Company. “People won’t follow a leader they don’t trust. Trust makes it easier to get alignment.”  Trust is a powerful force that builds loyalty, increases credibility and supports effective communications. It gives you the benefit of the doubt in situations where you want to be heard, understood and believed.

Today, with public confidence in all kinds of organizations at an all-time low, leadership, communications, trust, corporate performance and reputation are inextricably linked. A recent 2014 study, “Enhancing Corporate Credibility: Is It Time to Take the SPIN Out of Employee Communications?” (based on input from 10,000 working Americans), concludes: “Company communications about the business – e.g., the company’s strategy, performance and competitive challenges - are viewed as credible by less than half of employees, and appear dishonest to roughly a quarter of the workforce.”

These results should be a wake-up call to senior executives.

 Organizations will find it increasingly difficult to motivate, engage and retain their most talented employees if their messages are not believed.   A workforce that trusts its leaders and really understands what’s happening within the company will be more satisfied, more productive and better able to contribute ideas for improvement.

Leaders of high-performing, well-respected companies are known for their “open-book communications.” They create a culture of trust by sharing information quickly and freely, and building relationships with employees and other stakeholders that enable their organizations to thrive.

Building trust involves managing communications and creating the right channels that give employees more of a say in things and encouraging discussion around what needs to be done. 

How to communicate sincerely, honestly and regularly is a challenge for business leaders and managers alike. After all, there still are companies, divisions, departments and shifts to run. But the return on communications is high. In trusted, high-performing companies the CEO and senior managers are communication champions who lead by example and sustain an open communications culture.


First and foremost

Make sure the communication is happening. Sincere, honest and regular.Use both informal and formal methods.



Allow for employee input and/or questioning.



Measure progress, get feedback after making the effort, you also want to know whether what you have done is working.


Listen to your feedback and adjust your communication and style accordingly.


~Jeff Thompson


The contributor to February's newsletter is Jeff Thompson

Board Member, Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

Project Manager – 1st Franklin Financial





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