CEOs face a broad lack of trust. In fact, more than half of the global general population surveyed as part of the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer CEO Supplement do not trust CEOs.
The public is skeptical about CEOs: globally, 54 percent feel CEOs are overpaid; 50 percent feel CEOs are unrelatable; and 67 percent feel CEOs are too focused on the short term.
At the same time, there is a lack of awareness of who CEOs are. Forty-seven percent of the global population acknowledge their inability to name a single CEO. And lack of awareness is linked to lower trust: there was a 17 point rise in trust in CEOs when respondents could name CEOs (64 percent of those who could name two or more CEOs said they trusted CEOs).
With expectations for business high and awareness of and trust in CEOs low, there’s a need for more engaged leadership to bridge this gap. The demand on today’s leaders is to be visible, personal and relatable with a clear purpose and a focus beyond the company itself.
The call for CEOs and executives to be not just present on the business side, but also to be accessible, real and human on the public side is driving the need for what we call Engaged Leadership.
Through the years, Edelman has worked with CEOs and leaders from a number of corporations, NGOs and academic institutions. Informed by this work, we have developed a global, experience-and relationship-driven approach to build Engaged Leadership. We help CEOs and executives to:
- Craft Their Story: There are new expectations for business and leaders. Stakeholders fully expect to hear from leaders frequently and openly about their dual mandate of earning profits and providing societal benefits. Executives should speak beyond spreadsheets and address industry trends and social purpose. Edelman can develop a platform and core content for executives that is authentic, personal, purpose-driven, and interwoven with an organization’s expertise, global reach, brand identity and external communications activities.
- Hone Their Story: People are looking for leaders to be accessible, visible and authentic. CEOs and executives need to avoid robotic speech and address stakeholders in a way that is relatable, approachable and engaged. Leveraging our knowledge of conferences, elite media, employee and influencer engagement best practices, Edelman prepares executives for engagement opportunities – from speaking appearances to interviews, employee town halls or stakeholder meetings. We provide customized, individualized media and presentation training (localized to the relevant global markets), along with leadership coaching.
- Tell Their Story: There is a lack of awareness of CEOs, despite an explosion in communications channels. CEOs and leaders must express their values and purpose through direct engagement with stakeholders — particularly employees — and utilize multiple online and offline platforms to tell a consistent, relevant story that is easily discovered. Further, companies should deploy their most credible voices—the C-Suite, experts and employees—as spokespeople for the organization’s vision, purpose and performance. Edelman can secure speaking, elite media, digital and direct-to-influencer opportunities that allow the full bench of executives and experts to advance their story with critical stakeholders.