CEO Today - January 2023

Following former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ swift exit from 10 Downing Street, all eyes are now on new Tory leader Rishi Sunak to restore his party and lead the United Kingdom out of an economic crisis. A party described as ‘ungovernable’, a strong pointing finger from the opposition, and anger from the British public, Sunak enters Parliament at a time where definitive decision-making and strong redirection are demanded. Now, Britain awaits the fulfilment of Sunak’s promises to restore integrity and provide confidence in the government’s agenda, acknowledging that “trust is earned”. Leaders like Rishi Sunak, who enter an organisation on its knees will in no doubt discover immediate hurdles of damaged trust, lost direction, and weakened stakeholder relations. So, what is the best approach to such challenges, and what should be prioritised? Step 1: Rebuild trust Whether it’s a series of managerial changes, scandals or financial fiascos, periods of uncertainty inevitably weaken trust in organisational relationships both internally and externally. The new Prime Minister must gain confidence in his competency from both his party and the British public. A stable future sits on a foundation of stakeholder confidence from all angles, meaning leaders like Sunak must prioritise rebuilding this first and foremost. Internally, low employee trust presents itself as poor motivation, productivity, unity, and collaboration. A culture of fear could be running rife; in times of uncertainty, the inevitable human response is to resist change, “ which in this case is new leadership and ways of working. To encourage a sense of security, ensure employees feel valued under new leadership; cultivate an environment that encourages two-way open communication and welcomes employee feedback and input. Here, it takes advanced leaders to effectively extract and process information from others and use this to inform new bold strategies to move forward. Regular internal comms on the vision, plans and progress will only continue rebuilding trusting internal relationships by demonstrating honesty fromtop levels of the organisation while fostering a sense of belonging within the team – “we’re all in this together” is a muchhackneyed phrase but getting this buy-in is essential. Once employees begin to sense camaraderie and shared purpose, leaders will experience greater internal engagement and support in their decision-making. After all, a team’s unity, ability to collaborate and motivate all stem from a shared faith in the leader and organisational direction. Externally, reduced consumer confidence, investor disinterest and unhappy suppliers are all red flags pointing to signs of low trust. For the new Prime Minister, a key challenge will be restoring Britain’s national credibility following the Bank of England’s recent intervention over Truss’ failed ‘mini budget’. Without restoring reputational damage, leaders will not secure external support for future decisions and strategies, which threatens thefinancial andcompetitive security of the organisation. Unlike employees, external stakeholders are less concerned with a firm’s managerial capabilities but instead base trust on the leadership team’s technical competence. To earn trust with these audiences, new leaders must focus on demonstrating THE DISRUPTORS “Take Christian Horner, for example. Recently discussing his first day as Principal for Red Bull Racing on ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast, Horner describes a disgruntled workforce, a secretary in tears and a half-drunk coffee on the desk of his predecessor who was fired earlier that morning. As the youngest Formula 1 Principal of his time, it required months of engaging and listening to his workforce to gain their respect following a “revolving door” of managerial changes.” 26

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