Edelman Trust Barometer 2020: CEOs can seize the day

IMG_5193When the World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos, the first thing I look out for is the Edelman Trust Barometer. Now in its 20th year, the PR agency Edelman has been measuring public trust in people and institutions.

And this year, this stuck out particularly for me:

  • Business is seen as the most competent of institutions, inching ahead even of NGOs. And it is seen as competent, even if seen as too self-centered by most respondents.

Time for CEOs to step up!

The survey shows that people have a high expectation that their company’s CEO takes the lead in speaking out on important issues – from climate change, diversity or jobs of the future. A whopping seventy-five percent (75%) believe CEOs should lead the way to change, almost that it is imperative for them to speak out and not wait for politics and government to step in.

Larry Fink only last week spoke out on jobs lost to automation and the need for ESG-only investments. Microsoft taking more carbon out of its operations. Steps in the right direction. But the level of consciousness needs to be raised! Just think to Siemens who recently have been criticized around their decision to invest in coal mining in Australia despite the recent environmental (fire) crisis.

More needs to be done and being a change enabler should move to the top of any CEO’s agenda in 2020.

Technology is a worry

83% of respondents said they were concerned also about losing their jobs for various reasons like a weak economy, lack of job security, automation, or a lack of skills. Meanwhile, 62% feel work technology is “out of control,” and technological change is happening too quickly. Yikes.

Therefore CEOs will need to make real investment efforts in the coming years in people, not just technology. Why? Because we need a perfect balance of the two!

Mastering challenges collectively

But also engaging stakeholders across the board will be a key opportunities for businesses and CEOs alike. 87% say that customers, employees and communities are more important to a company’s long-term success than shareholders alone.

Maybe we have already seeing a shift when looking at the announcement by The Business Roundtable Group of CEOs who said that we should start to move away from a sole focus on shareholders to a more balances purpose centred on all stakeholders.

My encouraging question to all CEOs out there: How will you use your opportunity to own the narrative and to drive change to build trust in the coming years?

2020: The human decade

The end of the year always brings about many reflections for me, especially as we are about to step into a new decade, still in the middle of our global technology revolution.

And even though we only hear terms like tech or digital, we need to remember that this revolution is first and foremost a cultural transformation with humans in the driver’s seat.

For business leaders it is imperative in the coming decade to truly put humans at the center of their organizations. It’s all about creating positive employee experiences to make employees feel valued, appreciated, safe and energized to bring their best to work.

We need to take a close and hard look at how we define leadership, work and collaboration, saying goodbye to the old normal of “business as usual”. This may be painful but it will be an amazing window of opportunity.

We need to provide a “north star” that brings a sense of meaning and direction, showing us what place our organization and therefore also us as humans have in the world. We need to create a space for everyone where we can share knowledge and experience, continue to learn and have the time for critical and creative thinking. We need to ask ourselves how can we create more connection, kindness, wellness, diversity, inclusion and happiness even amid the crazy pace of technological change that we are feeling.

After all, humans have always been the driving force behind every innovation and will continue to be so.

Leaders who understand how to meaningfully invest in others will have a critical competitive advantage in the coming decade. Maybe we are already seeing a shift when looking at the announcement by The Business Roundtable Group of CEOs who said that we should start to move away from a sole focus on shareholders to a more balances purpose centred on all stakeholders.

I am excited and am looking forward to working with leaders as we move into the new decade to support  you in seizing the vast opportunities to advance the work you do and the people you do it with in truly transformative ways with a focus on the humans inside your companies.

Diversity is key

Diversity is key for a company’s success. But it requires true leadership commitment beyond superficial words or platitudes. Leaders need to build a case for change and address the deep-rooted cultural and organizational issues that those groups face in their day-to-day work experience if they want to achieve corporate diversity and inclusion.

Here is an interesting read from BCG on how to fix the flawed approach to diversity.

Feedback is not only about giving

Many companies spend a lot of time coaching managers on how to give feedback but little time is spent on how to receive it! Dealing with negative feedback is never easy. It can make us feel defensive which can impair on how we use it effectively. Having a better feel for how we can (or even if and when) we should respond is just as important as understanding how to give it.  Here are five empirically supported actions that can help with hearing critical feedback:

  1. Don’t rush to react
  2. Get more data
  3. Think about “public relations”
  4. Don’t be a martyr
  5. Remember that change is not your only option

If you want more insights, take a look at Tacha Eurich’s article in HRB.

Making sure teams can work together

Working with many companies over the last couple of years, one of the biggest challenges often is to get  teams to work across the organizational boundaries. Often the main part of the problem is that we expect collaboration to occur in networks of relationships that do not mirror that of the formal reporting structures. Collaboration needs to be managed by leadership with a focus on setting up informal networks.  This article from Harvard Business Review provides some good, pragmatic approaches.

How to empower employees

When your employees can use their natural talents in their job, they can  bring a positive presence to their work and can make a positive impact on the organization.  So what are some questions you as a manager can ask to gage what these talents are to then help best shape their roles and responsibilities? Here are some valuable ones from Gallup

  1. What do you know you can do well but haven’t done yet?
  2. What sorts of activities do you finish and think, “I can’t wait to do that again”? Or what are you doing — inside or outside work — when you’re truly enjoying yourself?
  3. What have you done well that you didn’t need someone to explain how to do?
  4. What have other people told you you’re great at doing?
  5. What activities are you doing when you are unaware of time passing?

 

 

Grow through experiments

Harry_Waisman_labPractice makes perfect. Who hasn’t been told that at some point in their life? But is it true?

I like Adam Grant’s take who believes that what separates the good from the great is the willingness to try new things. You may be successful the way you are, but regardless of whether you are a company or an individual if you follow the same thing, the same routine, the same strategy over and over again you are more or less standing still, it means you are not growing.

Especially today where our world is changing at an incredible speed we need to have the willingness to experiment. To experiment with what you already know, and to experiment beyond that.

As Adam Grant said in a recent interview with GQ:

“..I would love to see every individual, every group try at least one experiment every week. Whether that’s shifting the structure of your meetings, or rotating around the leader for that decision—you can make a long list of what kind of experiments might be relevant. But to me, that’s kind of the big lesson of organizational psychology: the people who are willing to try new things beat the ones who don’t.”

How can you break your silos of your own built routines and start to experiment?

(Photo Credit: Harry Waisman Lab)