Clear, credible and consistent communication is pivotal for leaders and organizations in times of uncertainty to maintain and build trust. Trust is fragile, and in the face of change or adversity, it is crucial leaders have established a foundation of openness, transparency and honesty.

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Leaders who prioritize authentic communication navigate change more effectively and emerge more resilient with a trusting culture. The following insights, inspiration and ideas are focused on how to authentically communicate and maintain trust in a crisis:


  • Only half of workers think their employers are honest and upfront with them, and one-quarter of workers don’t trust their employers.
  • According to a survey by EY and Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 89% of executives say a sense of collective purpose drives employee engagement, and 84% say it leads to greater success in transformational efforts. 
  • 79% of employees who highly trust their employer feel motivated to work (source).
  • 82% say the CEO is ultimately responsible for trust leadership at the company (source).
  • A study by the Berkely Haas School suggests the shortage of authentic leaders is due to overconfidence and feelings of infallibility that often accompany power.


  • RETHINK — Today, there is often a choice of which mode of communication to use and when or why. Strategically consider which channel can make interactions seem more authentic (source). 
  • BRAINSTORM — As leaders seek to nurture and build trust among stakeholders, leverage the following topic areas to foster productive conversations (source):
    • What is our working definition of trust as it relates to the organization and our relationships with stakeholders?
    • What metrics is our organization using to measure stakeholder trust? What could we do to improve the quality and accuracy of these metrics? 
    • What are our current trust-building priorities and how will these evolve in the future? 
    • What are the board’s responsibilities for earning trust with stakeholders and how do these differ from or align with management responsibilities?
    • To what extent does our commitment to sustainability and broader ESG factors support and reflect our broader commitment to building and maintaining stakeholder trust?
  • REVIEW — Considerations for authentic communication as a leader (source):
    • Be self aware
    • Pay attention to others 
    • Be honest and transparent
    • Approach communication with empathy
    • Avoid jumping to conclusions
    • Stay present in conversations
    • Be consistent


  • REFLECT — Executives should come to an agreement now for how they want to show up as leaders and as an organization during a crisis to prevent making it up in the moment (source).
    • Effective crisis management requires organizations to anticipate potential crisis scenarios and quickly respond when they happen. 
    • Organizations that integrate thoughtful, proactive communication strategies into their plans and ground their response in purpose, mission and values can more successfully sustain trust to protect and preserve their brands.

Interested in honing leadership communications skills?

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