By Goke Ilesanmi
Credibility is one thing that is very critical to corporate survival. It is also known as “truth”, “honesty”, “integrity”, etc. When organisations are just desperate for survival and profitability without being conscious of building their credibility profile, chances of long-term success will be greatly slim. How would you rate your workplace in terms of integration of trust and teamwork? Is a seed of credibility regularly sown and allowed to germinate? The reason for these questions is that research has shown that many executives and managers do not yet seem to grasp that credibility is a business asset that has enormous clout and needs to be carefully nurtured through conscious efforts.
Instances of lack of credibility abound in organisations, both locally and internationally. Enron, Supersize Me! The Corporation and NO Logo are a few. But this dangerous trend has long-lasting negative ripple effects on the corporate entities and the society as a whole. Dan Bobinski, a certified behavioural analyst, president and CEO of Leadership Development, Inc., and co-author of “Living Toad Free: Overcoming Resistance to Motivation”, says in the top level of business, it seems that the Enron scandal failed to teach three former top execs at Comverse Technology Inc., charged with falsifying and manipulating data to increase their stock options, what not to do. In his words, “…Thomas Coughlin, the former number two executive at Wal-Mart Stores, was sentenced to 27 months of home confinement for felony theft and wire fraud. It is bewildering to consider that these high profile men had so much going for them – only to suffer disgrace due to lack of integrity.”
Another thing that can happen in a corporate atmosphere of distrust is de-motivation of employees. In organisations that lack credibility, employees do not believe whatever they the management promises them. As Azriel Winnett, a management expert puts it, “What happens to productivity in a distrust-infected work environment? Most likely, it will go out through the window. The disease also hits hard at a company’s balance sheet in a number of other ways: elaborate employee manuals may become necessary, as well as employee polygraph tests; there may be legal fees to enforce employee contracts, and million-dollar golden parachutes may need to be constructed. Yes, the price of distrust can be very high indeed.”
Integrity and long-term success
There are four key leadership ideals that inspire companies to the purpose of long-term success. These ideals are called “moral purpose”. Moral purpose is where the big money is. Most stories about wealth creation and success are far easier to understand when we recognise the role of moral purpose. Nikos Mourkogiannis identifies in “Writing in Strategy + Business”, the four areas of moral purpose as Excellence: the pursuit of quality; Altruism: care for the staff/care for the customers; Heroism: the drive to win and to achieve; and Discovery: an attempt to approach each situation freshly. Mourkogiannis says, “When no clear moral purpose is articulated, a company acquires a de facto amoral purpose: expediency. It becomes the kind of company that professes, ‘We are here only to make money.’ This can be very successful in the short run, but companies without a clear moral purpose cannot endure; they do not survive the changes they will face in their markets or business environments.”
Atmosphere of teamwork
Creating an atmosphere of teamwork, innovation and involvement in your organisation requires more than just empty promises. A leader needs to do more than talk the talk; he or she must also ‘walk the talk’. Consistency, they say, is what integrity is all about.
Beverly Smallwood, head of Magnetic WorkplacesTM, explains that one of the best examples of “walking the talk” came from a company with whom he was working in San Diego. Smallwood says it was the Christmas get-together for the team of four trainers/consultants. They had finished playfully exchanging gag gifts, when the manager of the group produced three envelopes with ‘Thanks for the good job you’ve done this year!’ written on the outside. Inside, the team made the startling discovery that there were five one-hundred-dollar bills! Cindy, the manager, explained: “I was given a $2000 bonus because of the accomplishments of our department. It was not fair for me to take all the credit and the bonus, so I wanted to share it with the three of you.”
Leaders who are critical to the success of any improvement effort must be totally committed and highly trained in the daily habits that create an atmosphere of trust, teamwork, innovation and involvement. Research shows that if employees do not return from a training programme into a work environment from which the newly-learnt skills are modelled, coached and reinforced by leaders, almost all of the new behaviour will have disappeared within one month.
Research shows that customers want to be treated with respect and intelligence. And just like any personal relationship, this needs developing. Trust has to be built. But as a recent report by the UK National Consumer Council found, while this is primarily what customers want, many companies simply cannot deliver it. Most companies do not just get it right because they use ambiguity, misdirection and deception to win business and still expect customers to buy from them. Andy Hanselman says sometimes this is deliberate; sometimes this can be blamed on ignorance.
Getting it right
Hope is not lost yet if you have not connected your organisation to credibility network. Organisations that want to build trust must provide guarantees just like UK John Lewis Partnership that says “If you can buy the same goods cheaper elsewhere, we will refund the difference”. Another thing organisations can do is to publish feedback on their websites, both good and bad. Organisations can also build credibility by assessing their credibility level from time to time through questionnaire. Getting to know what customers really do and feel is also a strategy of building credibility. Finally, organisations that are thirsty for enduring credibility must live their values. They must walk the talk. Till we meet on Wednesday.
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GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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