By Steve Heywood, (GM, Edelman Amsterdam) in Influence Online.
Our 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update: Trust and the Covid-19 Pandemic was released last week and looks at how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected trust across institutions and industry sectors.
The report explores what leaders can do to protect and increase the trust necessary to navigate the crisis, reopen responsibly and lead conversations around rebuilding the social compact in a post-Covid society.
As the global conversation shifts to recovery and reopening, with respondents keen to prioritize health and safety by 2-1 and 75% saying CEOs should be cautious in restarting operations – it is especially important that business takes the lead and that leaders are visible when charting the new road ahead.
Indeed, many respondents believe business is either doing poorly, performing at a mediocre level or completely failing at: putting people before profits (50%), implementing safety measures to protect workers and customers (41%) and helping smaller suppliers and business customers stay in business by extending them credit or giving them more time to pay (46%).
We believe that now is absolutely the time to ask questions such as: ‘How do we get it right and understand how the changing environment is impacting our organization, industry and category?’ but we also understand that this unprecedented situation makes identifying communications actions that will protect and build trust capital – including for company CEOs – particularly challenging.
As our Chairman Richard Edelman has said ‘Business has been drifting for the past three months as government has led the first leg of this race’, but ‘now ‘it’s time for business to sprint to the front of the pack as the focus shifts to the reopening of the economy.’
So, while leaders need to be vocal and visible – and despite The FT saying that a global recession is ‘imminent’ – this fight to rebuild our businesses is not about taking flight. It’s about being slow and steady.
Stephen Covey rightly said: ‘If there’s one thing that’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty’. This has never been truer than today.
Building trust means patience must be part of the leader of the future’s DNA. Getting ahead will be about holding your nerve, doing the right thing and being conservative with a small c. It’s about truly putting your people and community first – even if that means waiting longer to reopen.
Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash