Real Organisational Experience through Trust In Leadership

One of the keys to retaining valued employees and talents is to provide them with an organisational experience that truly inspires them to stay.

This article is part of a 6-week series exploring the key dimensions of the organisational experience - Meaningful Work, Supportive Management, Positive Work Environment, Growth Opportunity, Trust in Leadership, and Cross-Organisational Collaboration and Communication. Based on Deloitte’s Simply Irresistible Organisation Model, PACE developed further research to determine which factors within these dimensions are the most important to the employees.

Think of some well-known leaders. Those who are trusted and respected all over the world. What qualities do they embody?

Now think of a leader you trust in your workplace. What qualities do they embody that are similar or different to well-known leaders?

We know that when a leader is trusted, effective leadership prevails. Trust is a two-way street. Leaders who trust their teams (with discernment), will be trusted in return.

Research by the Great Place to Work Institute shows that publicly-traded organisations with a high-trust culture deliver stock market returns that are three times greater than average and 50% less turnover, while Google’s Project Aristotle findings listed trust and psychological safety as the top hallmark in creating a great team.

How can we create a workplace that promotes trust in leadership? Inspired by Deloitte’s Simply Irresistible Organisation Model, and furthered by our own research, we know that there are four factors to creating a high-trust environment.

  1. Mission and Purpose
  2. Honesty
  3. Inspiration
  4. Care For People

Mission and Purpose

“Have you seen the company mission in action lately?”

Forbes recommends asking employees for concrete examples of the company mission while engaging with employees.

A company that builds its mission and purpose around its key stakeholders - employees, investors, partners, and customers - will succeed when its people succeed.

A 2019 Gallup report suggests that millennials, in particular, are more likely to be satisfied with a smaller paycheck if they believed in the company’s mission and purpose.  

As such, it is important to keep employees in touch with the company mission through questions or measuring employees’ opinions on the values and mission statement of the company.


This factor can be difficult for leaders who are used to ‘managing’ the truth through PR. Leaders must be willing to share all necessary details with stakeholders if they are to build trust. Employees should be kept in the loop not only when a company is performing well, but also when things go wrong. This keeps employees feeling connected to the bigger company.

Honesty also includes admitting to mistakes. Leaders are often seen as the spokespeople for the company, and a dishonest leader can tarnish the reputation of the company. Take Wells Fargo, for instance. The lack of honesty in corporate culture resulted in employees opening millions of fake accounts in an attempt to meet unrealistic sales goals. The company was fined $3 billion, among other costs, and former CEO John Stumpf was ordered to pay $17.5 million for his role in the scandal.

There are many ways in which honesty can be integrated into the company culture. Some examples include an open-door policy in upper management, regular meetings to touch base with everyone in the company, and a consistent policy of transparency.


Employees are rarely inspired by numbers on a screen. Finding true inspiration and meaning in the work goes beyond economic interests and taps into the aspirational side of human nature. Employees need to see how their work contributes to the larger organisational goals of the company.

This can be done through testimonials, videos, culture-building, and so on.

When DTE Energy’s president Gerry Anderson implemented real organisational change that prioritised its employees and connecting their jobs to the company’s purpose, he saw a real change. “Engagement scores climbed. The company received a Gallup Great Workplace Award for five years in a row…(and) DTE’s stock price more than tripled.” according to the Harvard Business Review.

Care For People

Finally, employees want to know that they are genuinely cared for. A little empathy goes a long way in the workplace. Linking back to our earlier articles on Supportive Management and a Positive Work Environment, employees crave thoughtful gestures and being recognised for their contributions. Studies show that employees are more productive when they feel gratitude.

Imagine coming back to your desk to a card and a box of chocolate thanking you for your work on the last project. Or receiving flowers from work to celebrate your work anniversary.

Meaningful expressions of appreciation must be specific and relevant, and make employees feel like a respected part of the team.

Overall, building trust in the workplace can be done by reinforcing the company’s mission and purpose, creating an honest workplace, inspiring employees, and caring for them. As one of the 6 dimensions in building an ideal workplace - Meaningful Work, Supportive Management, Positive Work Environment, Growth Opportunity, Trust in Leadership, and Cross-Organisational Collaboration and Communication - it is crucial that organisations work towards creating real trust in their leadership and management teams.

For a sample copy of our Real Organisational Experience report click here.

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