The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reported that “My Employer” is the most trusted out of any single institution, with a trust level of 75 percent. This trust comes with high expectations—71 percent of survey participants look for their leaders to speak out on societal issues, and 74 percent want their CEOs to embody the values and mission of the organizations they lead on and off the job.
To me, trust at any level in the organization is crucial whether you’re the CEO, a manager, or an individual contributor. We all have the opportunity to be leaders. It’s how you show up, how you recognize the impact you have on people, and what you do to demonstrate the value you bring to society. As leaders we are responsible for building trust in our teams and in our organizations, and we can’t achieve that goal without communication. So, no matter what your title, here are three key roles to adopt to build trust and lead with communication.
Key Role #1 – Storyteller
As storytelling gains momentum in the business space, I have seen leaders who are willing to tell personal stories to relate to their audiences. The best leaders, however, are those who go beyond anecdotes and weave in the narrative of their organization, telling the story of we, not me. These stories are memorable and show the heart of the organization, telling listeners they belong and share a common purpose. The leader as storyteller defines the important questions of “Why do we work here and what are we proud of?”
Ask yourself: How easy is it for me to tell my organization’s story so it’s memorable and builds trust?
Key Role #2 – Facilitator
The adage, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak,” is a good one for leaders. Leadership is not about you. It’s about the people with whom you engage. As a leader, only a fraction of your communication imparts information. The rest is about facilitating conversations with your teams, colleagues or other stakeholders. Sure, you’ll get to speak, but you also get to listen closely and respond to feedback. Be aware of the impact of your message as well as your tone and style. A good facilitator builds trust by adjusting on the fly to ensure the audience continues to engage and contribute.
Ask yourself: Am I listening twice as much as I’m talking? What cues tell me my colleagues feel heard and valued?
Key Role #3 – Value Driver
Successful organizations have driving narratives that affect people. For example, think of Apple and its constant focus on innovation. A good leader asks, “Why should anyone be interested in our story and where’s the value for them?” Focus on both the what and the why in your communication so your audience knows how interacting with you and your work adds value to your organization and to society.
Ask yourself: Do my communications show the value of our work and build trust in my organization?
Taking action on these roles is likely to help you lead with communication and raise your personal trust barometer with those you interact with every day.