Reasons why Employees Don’t Trust Their Leaders

Reasons why Employees Dont Trust Their Leaders large

Unfortunately, trust is in rare supply these days. People are having trouble trusting each other, according to an AP-GfK poll conducted in November 2013, which found that People are suspicious of each other in their everyday encounters.

This same sentiment can be carried over into the workplace, where employees want their leaders to be more trustworthy and transparent. Employees have grown tired of unexpected outcomes resulting from the lack of preparation. They want to be informed of any change management efforts before – not after the fact. Employees desire to know what is expected of them and be given the opportunity to reinvent themselves, rather than be told they are not qualified for new roles and responsibilities and can no longer execute their functions successfully.
The growing tensions between leaders and their employees are creating productivity challenges as uncertainty becomes the new normal in the workplace. Furthermore, leaders are beginning to lose control of their own identities and effectiveness as their employees begin to lose trust in their intentions because of hidden agendas and political maneuvering – casting clouds of doubt over their futures.

Here are seven early warning signs to look out for so you can course-correct when employees are having trouble trusting their leaders:

1.  Lack Courage

Leaders that don’t stand up for what they believe in are difficult to respect and trust.   Too many leaders today battle the gulf between assimilation and authenticity.   They waste too much of their valuable time trying to act like other leaders in the organization – rather than attempting to establish their own identity and leadership style.   This is why less than 15% of leaders have defined and live their personal brand.

 2.  Hidden Agendas

Leaders that are too politically savvy can be viewed as devious and inauthentic.  Employees want to follow leaders who are less about the politics and more about how to accomplish goals and objectives.   While being politically savvy is important, leaders must be careful not to give their employees the impression of orchestrating hidden agendas.

 3.  Self-Centered

Hidden agendas make it difficult to trust that a leader’s intentions and decision-making are not self-centered.  When a leader is only looking out for themselves and lacks any sense of commitment to the advancement of their employees – this shuts-off employees quickly.

4.  Reputation Issues

When people begin to speak negatively about their leader, it makes it more difficult for others to trust their intentions and vision.  For example, look at what has happened to President Barack Obama since December 2009 when his approval rating was 69%.   According to the Rasmussen Reports, four years later (as of December 7th), Obama’s approval rating is now at 43%.  Nearly a 30% decline has created massive disruption to his reputation and many who have followed and supported him for years are now having troubling trusting him.

 5.  Inconsistent Attitude

People are more inclined to trust those who are consistent with their behavior.   Isn’t it easy to begin questioning one’s motives/judgment when they are inconsistent?  For example, I’ve worked with clients who appear to be on the same page – only to notice that they begin to disconnect when they believe that the direction of a project is not allowing them to mobilize their own agendas.   In other words, when everyone but the leader is on board with a strategy – you begin to wonder if their intentions are to support the employees’ advancement or their own.

 6.  Lack a Generosity

When a leader doesn’t genuinely have your best interests at heart, it’s difficult to trust them.  When leaders are not grateful for your performance efforts – and are always attempting to squeeze every bit of effort they can out of you – it’s difficult to trust that they have intentions to be more efficient, resourceful and collaborative.

Employees don’t ever want to feel taken advantage of – especially during a time when everyone is being asked to do more with less.   Leaders must be more appreciative of their employees and more mindful of their endeavors.

Leaders who lack a generous purpose and are not compassionate towards their employees are difficult to trust. How can leaders expect their employees to give them everything they’ve got to increase their performance impact when they are not willing to do the same?

Jawaria Akhtar


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