If you’re a CEO, are you trusted? If you’re not the CEO, do you trust your chief executive? Steve Rubel, the Director of Insights for Edelman Digital, and one of my favorite bloggers (Micro Persuasion blog) was recently quoted as saying “People have not trusted CEOs for years, and especially not for the last 12 months.” I normally tend to agree with Steve, and regrettably, I must admit that he accurately reflects the public perception with the aforementioned quote as well. As a backdrop for today’s post, I’d suggest reading a prior post entitled “The No Spin Zone” in which I breakdown the need for trust in the workplace.

One of the first things I stress with my clients is that to be an effective leader they must be regarded as trustworthy. CEOs must make it a priority to not only establish trust but to maintain a trust bond with all key stakeholders and constituents. CEOs who break trust with their CXOs, management, staff, investors, lenders, media, vendors, suppliers, and partners will not survive for long. Even if by some stroke of luck they happen to survive, they certainly will not be effective. While great leaders will often have their policies and positions challenged, they will rarely have their character or integrity called into question.

So why is it that the public does not trust CEOs? If you will, I’ll ask you to put aside for a moment the fact that the media has vilified CEOs of late…Most rational people will see through the sensationalism and exploitation of a few easy targets, and not let the acts of a few rogue CEOs determine the fate of an entire occupational class (see “CEOs in Crisis”). The real reason that CEOs are not trusted is that they are not well known at a personal level.

CEOs who either sequester themselves away in their offices or allow their access to be gated by others do themselves and their organizations a great disservice. CEOs who view themselves at the top of the org chart overseeing all, as opposed to placing themselves at the bottom of the org chart serving all others will have a difficult time establishing trust. It is a complete misnomer that you have to guard your authentic self to be an effective leader. Quite the opposite is true…To be known at a personal level, to be authentic and transparent, and to be just another member of the team doesn’t make you a bad leader, it makes you a trusted, respected, and effective leader.