The Edelman Trust barometer famously shows a fundamental erosion in the trust in business leaders. “Trust levels” for CEOs stand at just 43%. So if a lot of people don’t believe what is being spouted by CEOs, what’s to be done?
Rebuilding trust doesn’t of course just depend on words. Edelman sees it as five key factors – integrity, engagement, products and services, purpose, and operations.
What is striking here – especially for leaders trying to build capability and grow their businesses – is the emphasis on integrity, engagement and purpose as well as the more functional aspects of products and services, and operations.
Purpose is an oft forgotten or misconstrued concept. We recently worked with a leader who set out that his strategy/purpose/mission was to grow the business by 50%. For us, this is a business target and the outcome of having a clear purpose, engaging colleagues and customers effectively, and aligning your products, services and operations to achieve your aim.
So how successful are businesses in describing their ‘mission/purpose/whatever it’s called’?
Facebook – To make the world more open and connected.
Google – To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Zappos – One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection. Zappos.com will be that online store.
[Nice. And a challenge to Amazon!]
Barclays – We are confident that we will become the ‘Go-To’ bank for all our stakeholders.
[Why the ‘we are confident’? And who exactly are stakeholders?!]
Asda – To save everyone money, every day.
[As clear as it comes.]
Innocent – We’re here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too).
CH2M – Together, we are dedicated to laying the foundation for human progress by turning challenge into opportunity.
[Started nicely, shame about the ending…]
Interestingly, Virgin say it’s best to forget mission statements and stick with a mantra – it’s more memorable. We say that’s semantics. Whatever you say, you should say it with purpose. Say it simply. And then show how it runs through every aspect of the customer and colleague experience.
Then the trust will come back.