Who can you trust? This was the question that was put to the Australian electorate recently. Although the question was directed towards a political party inevitably it became associated with a parallel question of “which leader can you trust?”
I have been struck recently by the impact that leaders have on an organisation. I recently participated in the Principal For A Day program promoted by the Australian Council for Educational Research and spent half a day in a small primary school. I was amazed by the impact that the principal had on the whole school community – parents, teachers and students. We have seen the leadership effect played out in the political arena over recent months and have seen the impact that leadership has on organisations – positive and negative.
For those in leadership
So can I encourage those of us who are in leadership positions to be always conscious of the effect we have on those inside our organisation as well as those outside our organisation. The culture of an organisation is usually driven from the top down so it is good to ask how your leadership style impacts on those you lead.
But let’s return to the issue of trust. The Roy Morgan Image of Professions’ Survey for 2013 has some interesting results. At the top of the list, understandably, is the medical profession, then engineers (we need to trust that our buildings and structures are safe) then a mix of education and law enforcement professionals and then accountants and ministers of religion. The next band includes bank managers, lawyers and public opinion pollsters and further down are company directors, executives and journalists. The bottom of the list includes politicians, sales people, advertising people and insurance and stock brokers.
Of course we are delighted that the accounting profession is regarded by Australians as a trusted profession. But trust is something that is earned and usually takes time to build. Trust can also be broken down or lost overnight. Trust is something that is built from observation and personal experience.
In order to earn the trust, confidence and respect of our clients we need to demonstrate daily that we have the attributes that lead to trust; qualities like integrity, independence, honesty and of course competence. These qualities are entrenched in the Saward Dawson ethos and reinforced through our training, quality programs and of course through our leadership.
We don’t take our clients’ trust for granted. We are entrusted to advise them on things that make a real difference in their lives: the various aspects of a business that is vital to the future of a family; tax affairs; assurance over financial reports and systems; retirement and superannuation plans; business and personal strategies that will influence their quality of life for years to come.
Neither do we take our leadership responsibilities for granted. We not only have a responsibility to lead and inspire our staff but often we need to lead our clients through, what are for them, unchartered waters. And so leadership plays out internally and externally. This is true for anyone in business. There are internal and external impacts of leadership and organisational culture.
Trust and leadership – they are important for us and important in any organisation. So who can you trust? You be the judge.