21 Reasons Employees Don't Trust Their Leaders

by Karl Rohde — Get free updates of new posts here. Photo Credit: Karl Rohde.  


In today's business landscape it seems that culture is the #1 metric for a thriving organisation. The best, most valuable companies in the world are not the best and most valuable without having a thriving culture that drives individual and group brilliance.

Can leaders change?

The challenge for big 800 pound gorilla style businesses (traditional corporations founded in the industrial age) is to crack this illustrious culture code and step into the Social Age with style. They know it and that's why they enlist the help of culture specialists and culture surveys. This is a good thing. The motive is good. But too often it goes wrong.

The next challenge is how they embed a thriving culture. To do this thy issue a directive to their leaders and managers to review the culture survey results and then put in an action plan to get everyone involved. That sounds fair, but in order to really do this you need a leadership/management group that knows how to extract what people really think.

To stop these culture initiatives from turning into another soul destroying, corrosive, mainstream practice like performance reviews you need a savvy management group genuinely focused on a progressive high trust culture, who have either been born into the Social Age or have broken the shackles of the industrial age, ready to embrace authenticity and human level trust.

  • If you were trained and cut your teeth in the industrial age, read on.
  • If your motive is to be a change agent for progressive culture, read on.
  • If you're curious to know why staff struggle to trust their leaders, read on.
  • If you want to keep the trust alive between you and your staff, read on.
  • If you're a leader in your last job (about to retire in the next 5 or so years), read on.

Why leaders are left in the dark!

  1. They focus on transactional work instead of transformational work.
  2. They put their own spin on culture survey results instead of taking them as they are.
  3. They work with people but don't connect on a human level. There is no relativity, things are way too serious and the relationship is mechanical.
  4. They don't do anything that their employees can relate to. Effectively they are not one of the team. They are a bit above the team, after all they are the leaders, not the worker bees.
  5. They don't do meaningful things. Their people don't see them doing much that really matters.
  6. They mostly focus on things like numbers and metrics. Vision, strategy and things like dreams and aspirations are non-existent.
  7. They treat major things like performance reviews, culture and values as tasks. These things are given token attention.
  8. They fail to communicate what they really think. They want to know what people think but don't pay it forward by telling others what they think. Alternatively, they tout the corporate line way too often instead of being honest, deluding themselves into thinking people can't see this.
  9. They have lost touch with reality and lack perspective. They are so absorbed in their own world they fail to recognise the world around them and that times change.
  10. They lack credibility as people leaders and manage mostly upwards. After all, they reason that the staff don’t pay their wages.
  11. They focus on catching people out instead of catching themselves out. Leadership 101.
  12. They fail to reflect how they are perceived and how they impact those around them. Self awareness 101.
  13. When staff do talk to them they always have the last word instead of seeking first to understand. Or even worse they rebuke them for thinking differently.
  14. They think that what got them there will get them even higher so they keep doing what they've always done.
  15. They rarely display any vulnerability.
  16. They play too many political games and again, delude themselves into thinking people can’t see this.
  17. They are of the industrial age view that the reason they are the leader is that they know more than everyone!
  18. They expect people to just “suck it up” when bad things go down, suggesting this is real world.
  19. Deep down they think this people stuff is just a waste of time.
  20. They rarely fight for their people. Or they've lost their mojo and just don't care anymore.
  21. They fail to capitalise on the change agents that exist in their teams.

The Social Age is an opportunity to be brilliant.

The Social Age we now live in, is a remarkable time. People want to speak up and they yearn to achieve greater heights of self-defined success in their careers. An increase in material abundance has increased our desire to work that matters. The tactics of the industrial age don't capitalise on uniqueness and individual excellence. As managers and leaders we can do so much to transition to the Social Age and crack the culture code that will keep us all in business.

Over to you. What do you think?

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Thanks you for reading!