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Leadership, Trust and Communication: Building trust in companies through effective leadership communication

Line managers have a critical role to play in building trust in the workplace, according to a report from Westminster Business School, in collaboration with Top Banana and the Institute of Internal Communication.

The report, Leadership, Trust and Communication: Building trust in companies through effective leadership communication, looks at the connection between internal communication, leadership and trust in organisations.

It suggests that line managers could hold the key to rebuilding trust in organisations, which has declined significantly since the financial crisis. It says middle management have a “central role”.

Top Banana managing director Nick Terry told HR magazine the line manager is “critical”. “If the line manager doesn’t trust the leader then the workers under the line manager won’t be engaged,” he said.

He added: “Trust is transitive. If your middle manager believes a message then the people who work for them are going to be more inclined to believe it.”

Katalin Illes, principal lecturer in leadership and development at Westminster Business School and co-author of the report, said that because trust tends to be context-based, “trust in a business leader is largely based on trust in line managers and the company itself, which is based on its values, behaviours, procedures and perceived fairness.”

She added that declining levels of trust show “we are not relating to each other in the right way”. “Humans are social creatures and past and present findings confirm that strong, supportive communities have higher survival rates and prosper more. This is also true of business communities,” she said.

Terry also advised organisations “get their leaders out there”. “It is the strongest, quickest and most powerful way of starting that trust journey,” he said. “You need to understand if your leaders are credible and trusted because if they aren’t you need to put in place tactics to build or replace that trust.”


The report offers 10 recommendations for business leaders. They are:

  1. Listen to the organisation and its people, and create opportunities for listening to take place
  2. Articulate a clear set of values supported by genuine management commitment
  3. Create and support a culture of transparency
  4. Make trust a corporate governance issue
  5. Ensure you have a professional ‘communication counsel’
  6. Be seen via face-to-face communications
  7. Communicate with and work collaboratively with your line managers to address trust
  8. Be authentic
  9. Be clear on the changing and developing skills expectations of business leaders
  10. Remember the “phenomenology” of leadership; leadership is not static but a series of moments




Leadership development needs to reflect culture, values and commercial aspirations….

Effective leadership is key to the success of any organisation…..hardly ground breaking news! Yet, so often, it’s an organisation’s leadership that is one key barrier to its success. As an organisation grows, so do the demands on the management who are required to engage and think as leaders, to step up and away from their transactional excellence, and lead to ensure the organisation and its people are positioned to support the business plan, it’s complexities, demands and risks for the future.

Peter Cheese, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, comments: “Leadership is no longer just about the boardroom; managers at all levels need leadership skills – the power to win people’s hearts and minds and build relationships based on mutual trust and respect. In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, the key to performance is through engaging employees in ways that produce discretionary effort and creating an environment which encourages greater employee empowerment and voice to facilitate the exchange of ideas and know-how.”

A research report by the CIPD suggests that a new type of leadership is needed in modern organisations in order to “build positive workplace cultures that get the best out of people and support innovation, empowerment and ethical behaviour.” The report (“Perspectives on Leadership” by authors, Rachel Lewis and Emma Donaldson-Feilder), examine the elements of three emerging strands of leadership theory; relational leadership, values-based leadership and contextual leadership.

The quality of the relationship between leader and their direct report, and emphasis on the importance of leaders who are self-aware and can display honesty, integrity and strongly held ethical and moral principles are key to the relational and values-based leadership tenants. Contextual leadership focuses on how leadership is influenced by the culture and systems of the organisation as a whole, for example, by its values and the extent to which managers are empowered to lead at all levels of an organisation.

Critically, and an interesting insight from the report is evidence suggesting that if a manager regards themselves as a leader they are more likely to behave like a leader! Managers must want to learn in order for any development activities to have impact, so it’s important to understand what motivates these individuals to be leaders.

At gki resourcing, we can help you understand and articulate what effective leadership is or needs to be for your business and its’ ambition. Within that context, we can then support you to define an approach designed to develop leadership capability, strengthening your business and engage your management team to achieve sustainable performance. We can further implement a leadership development framework which reflects existing capability and needs of each key individual in line with the company values, culture and plans for the future.

Pauline has an extensive background in strategic HRM. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article or for a discussion on how we can help with High Impact HR for your business, call Pauline at GKI Resourcing on 07920162200 or e-mail:

Why use an Executive Search Consultancy?

Before we can understand why we should use an Executive Search Consultancy such as GKI Resourcing, it is important to understand what Executive Search is, and what it is not. To many of you this will be stating the obvious, but here goes.

Executive Search is the use of a (usually) retained consultancy, staffed by experts who can and should work in partnership with you to help identify, attract and retain talented people for your organisation. It is not working with multiple agencies in the hope that some resumés will arrive that ‘fit the bill’ – these tend to be ‘contingent’ recruiters, and there is a time and place for both.

But as we have a UK wide Executive Search practice, that’s the area on which we are going to focus.

So, why use an Executive Search Consultancy?

There are many reasons to use a retained search consultancy rather than a contingent or even your in-house recruitment process. They will also vary depending on the size of your organisation. But, we find the top five reasons that our clients such as Virgin Trains, Swissport, Ryder, The Priory Group and others use retained services are in no particular order;

1) Independent, professional advice and expertise

Most search firms are able to provide detailed market knowledge, particularly of salary levels and skills sets – they can provide a sense check and help manage expectations internally. With no axe to grind they should also handle internal applicants in exactly the same way as external candidates and provide feedback. A truly professional search firm will want to work with you to understand the role, and where it fits with achieving the business objectives. A recent example is that, when dealing with an SME manufacturing business, we sat with the board and helped them restructure their sales team, producing more realistic job descriptions and accurate salary bandings that reflected the market place, while reducing the number of people required. The salary budget remained the same, fees were reduced and the client was able to attract the right level of talent to drive the business forward.

2) Resources and/or lack of in-house ‘know-how’

Many businesses, particularly SME’s and many family owned companies do not recruit at middle or senior level very often. Consequently, little or no resource is available to them internally, and they need to bring in experts to help them out. A professional search firm will act as a recruiting partner, working closely with the principals to ensure a successful hire.

3) Access to talent

A very practical reason for employing a search consultant is to identify and attract talent that is not actively looking for a new role. Being able to identify and approach talented individuals and offer them the opportunity to continue their career in a new firm is an essential part of the skill set required for a successful search consultant. A skilled and well reputed consultant will have access to people and prospects that you or others do not possess.

4) Candidate assessment and management

Most professional search consultants will work with you to understand what you need to know about your new employee. They should work within your own competency frameworks, or be able to match their own to your needs. Professional interviewing and treating candidates well is an integral part of the process as are background checks, referencing, qualification and ‘right to work’ checks.

5) Confidentiality

Confidentiality is absolutely crucial when a sensitive search is required and many search consultants will be able to handle a confidential search, but it takes different skills to a role that is non-confidential. Protection of data, messaging and conversations is essential, as is the ability to speak with and attract a potential candidate without being able to provide the full information.

Our recommendation is that before recruiting you look seriously at the options available to you and the style and approach of your potential partner. Think carefully about what you want from them – a transactional relationship is one that works with you in a consultative style, providing advice and guidance to add value to the process and to your business.

George has an extensive background in Executive Recruitment. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article or for a discussion on how we can help with the recruitment needs of your business, call George at GKI Resourcing on 07876 124330 or email

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