Trust in leadership worth half a million

Posted on May 20, 2006 5:24 pm by | Internal | Deconstructing Larkin

Regular readers will know that I believe senior leadership communication is a vital element of internal communications at all times, whether significant change is occurring or not. I’ve received two more pieces of evidence to support this notion.

Angela Sinickas sends along the first in the form of research by Warren Shepell, a global leader in employee assistance programs. According to the firm’s research, seven things are required for maximizing employee engagement. At the top of the list, according to the research: “Trust in senior managers.” Trust in supervisors was high up on the list, weighing in at number four. Ranking above that, at number three, though, was, “Understand their organizations’ vision and strategic direction,” just the kind of big-picture issue senior leadership would communicate; supervisors would interpret that information to localize it and help employees understand how those big-picture vision and strategic direction will affect their work.

The second research study comes by way of Malcolm Ruddock, director, Employee and Advancement Communications at Canada’s University of Western Ontario. Ruddock forwards along an item appearing on the website of the Vancouver Board of Trade regarding research conducted by John Helliwell, one of the world???s foremost researchers on people???s happiness and well-being.

To illustrate his results, Helliwell put a dollar figure to give a recognizable value to how important certain factors are to well-being. Factors measured were engagement (how connected people are with others); employment (paid or not); family, friends and neighbours; good health; high quality of government at all levels, and adequate income (relative to expectations).

Trust toward management was worth more than any other single factor, whether at work or at home, worth half a million dollars in Helliwell’s dollar-valuation equation, “when the most-trustworthy and least-trustworthy managements are being compared. This shows that even a modest change in workplace trust relations can significantly affect life satisfaction.” That half-million stacks up against the $125,000 it’s worth to have more time with family and $100,000 to have more time with friends.

Don’t let anybody convince you that there’s no value to leader communication.



  • 1.Trust in senior leadership is worth a half a million. Early today I spotted a great post from Shel Holtz's blog, A Shel of My Former Self about the value placed on trust in senior leadership. Here's an excerpt: Trust

  • 2.Shel,
    I agree 100% with your take on the value of visible, trusted and communicative senior managers.
    I've worked in a number of organisations where senior managers see their role communicating with their direct reports. They then think that the rest of the organisation gets the message through cascaded communications.

    Yet there are two big problems with the belief that this works:

    Firstly middle managers often act as a block to the flow of information, adding their own perspective or worst of all not communicating at all.

    Secondly relying on a cascade isolates the senior manager from most people in the organisation. The only feedback they get is filtered/edited by their direct reports.

    Size or geography doesn't need to be a barrier to effective leadership communication either. One of the most effective companies I have worked with that does this well is one of the largest global oil companies. If a company that large and dispersed can do it so well, size and geography shouldn't be a barrier.

    Cheers, sw

    (am a regular FIR listener - great stuff - keep up the good work!)

    Simon Wakeman | May 2006 | Whitstable, UK

  • 3.Check out one of my favorite bloggers Shel Holtz latest post on how trust is a key part of successful leadership. Apparently it is worth $500m !!!- For me trust is such a central part of any relationship - starting

  • 4.Thanks for the thoughtful post here on a vital topic. There is less trust in the leadership than people are willing to admit where they feel there will be reprisals for saying so.... It seems to me that the time is here to rethink how we can rebuild trust and I suspect leadership will have to change its structure for real renewal to take place. What do you think?

    <a >

    ellenweber | May 2006 | Rohester New York

  • 5.Employees come to work with an implicit trust that their managers are always working for the best interest of the company and its employees. That trust should not and cannot ever be taken for granted. Look what is happening today. It is no longer "What's good for the company is good for the manager." It has become "What's good for the manager is good for the company." Top executives have totally lost sight of this phenomenon and are allowing managers to run amok for their own personal agendas.
    Several years ago I wrote a book on the subject of workplace culture and employee morale. It is as relevant today as it was then. Employee morale is directly linked to the interaction of employees with line managers who are charged with executing the policies and strategies of companies. Unfortunately, many of these managers subvert the good intentions of the organization to meet their own personal goals and agendas at the expense of their peers and subordinates. This management subculture is the result of a corporate culture of ignorance, indifference and excuse. Better corporate level leadership is the key. Read more in "160 Degrees of Deviation: The Case for the Corporate Cynic."

    Jerome Alexander

    Jerome Alexander | January 2007 | USA

  • 6.I liked the article topic, truly a a good leader worth more than a million also the leader communication skills, I would like to complement this great post by sharing this article:
    By the way I like your blog.

    Business Tips | July 2008

  • 7.well, the fact of the matter is that true leaders don't really want to be leaders... they are chosen.

    kitchen sink size | August 2008

  • 8.Great article Shel! For more on evaluating your leadership team, check out the article below:

    Pat Ahern | July 2016 | Denver

  • 9.Sorry, error in my last submission. You can find the article on evaluating your leadership team here:

    Traction | July 2016

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