Many United States citizens believe that along with a deep recession there is a leadership crisis. Honesty is delivered with spin. Ethics are situational.
With elections right around the corner, leaders everywhere are likely wondering what they can do to gain constituent support. According to a recent survey titled “Leading the Way: The 2012 Leadership and Finances Survey” co-sponsored by the Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN), today’s leaders need to work on themselves before they think about earning the trust and confidence of those they lead.

Among the more than 5,500 respondents who participated in the online survey (most of whom reside in the Midwest), the majority (65%) reported they were “not confident” in the abilities of their local, national or global leaders and felt that there was significant room for improvement. In fact, the survey revealed approximately one-third (31%) of respondents were only “moderately confident” and less than two percent were “very confident” in our leaders. Interestingly, 65 percent of women were “moderately confident” in leadership, while 71 percent of men said they were “not confident.”

So what’s behind this decline in confidence? “Over the last few years, corporate and political scandals in the U.S., coupled with economic challenges, appear to have eroded many people’s trust in leadership,” said Mary Prefontaine, President and CEO of ICAN. “This survey confirms a significant problem exists among leaders and it needs to be resolved.”

The survey not only highlighted the need to restore trust in leadership; it also provided insight into the core values trusted leaders need to consistently demonstrate. The survey found that many are looking for traditional leadership values such as Honesty (40%), Integrity (24%) and Accountability (11%).

“It is important for leaders to understand that people want them to demonstrate values that foster trust, like honesty and integrity,” said Prefontaine. “We’ve seen through our leadership programs that those who stand firm in their values first are better able to navigate through tough challenges, take action, and most importantly, have people want to follow them.”

And so the question remains – what can our leaders do to win back confidence? “To be influential, leaders need to identify the values they bring to their work and consistently demonstrate them,” said Prefontaine. “In doing so, they will be able to garner confidence and trust, and transform the communities they serve.”

Amen to that.

Survey Methodology
This online survey was facilitated by Ervin & Smith on behalf of the Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN) and SAC Federal Credit Union (SACFCU) from March 28-April 20, 2012. The survey was distributed via email by ICAN and SACFCU to their pre-existing email lists composed of 24,900 respondents combined, the majority (93%) of whom reside in the Midwest region of the U.S. It was also accessible via modules on the ICAN and SACFCU websites. 5,563 people participated in this survey, which had a margin of error of +/- 1 percent. This means that survey results will differ by no more than 1.0 percentage point in either direction if distributed again among a similar population sample. The survey findings are representative of a convenience, not a random sample. The Institute for Career Advancement Needs, SAC Federal Credit Union and Ervin & Smith are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s products and services.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton

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