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Top Executives Must Rebuild Trust With Workers & Customers To Lead Companies Out of Recession, Survey Finds


BOSTON - In order to lead their companies out of the recession, top-level executives will first need to rebuild trust with employees and customers, according to a survey of 148 businesses by Suzanne Bates, author of “Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act!” (McGraw-Hill 2009).

“The recession has damaged trust between top-level executives and employees, and between company leaders and customers,” said Bates, president and CEO of Bates Communications (

“Massive layoffs and cutbacks have harmed relationships between employers and remaining employees. Bankruptcies, closures, and failed business strategies have hurt trust between executives and those they do business with. Senior-level executives must work toward rebuilding that trust,” Bates added.

The No. 1 way that executives will lead their organizations out of the recession is by meeting with customers and prospects to rebuild trust and win business, according to 77% of survey respondents.

Trust-building was also selected as the ability that current executives most need to develop. 76% of survey respondents ranked building trust among employees and customers as the aptitude executives most need to develop.

Furthermore, trustworthiness was rated second as the quality executives will need most to guide their companies post-recession, selected by 60% of survey respondents - behind only being visionary, which was chosen by 64%.

“Because organizations are leaner due to layoffs and hiring freezes, employees are being asked to work harder with fewer financial incentives. CEOs cannot afford to miss the issue of trust, or they risk damaging the motivation of the very people who are key to the recovery,” said Bates.

“Employees are losing steam as the recession drags on, and they continue to do more with less. Top talent is especially at risk. If leaders don’t keep building bridges to them, they will lose them when the economy improves,” Bates added.

The least-favored way for executives to move their organizations forward is by developing a higher media profile, which was chosen by only 27% of respondents.

Instead, company leaders should direct their efforts toward communicating with, inspiring, motivating, and engaging employees, the survey found. After rebuilding trust, the skills that C-suite executives will need most in order to move their businesses forward are: communicating more effectively about priorities; inspiring people to brainstorm new ideas; serving as Chief Motivating Officers; and engaging employees to take active roles in high-priority projects.

However, current business leaders also need to sharpen their motivational and inspirational skills inside their organizations, according to the survey. Behind mending trust, they should perfect aligning their organizations toward a common purpose or vision; articulating a strategic direction; and speaking in a powerful way to motivate and inspire people to act.

“This latest research confirms that CEOs need to engage their teams and win their trust. CEOs must provide straight talk about their plans for innovating and building a company that will thrive when the recession is over,” said Bates.

“All senior-level leaders must learn to clearly communicate mission and purpose, and do it with passion, so that people are inspired. Leaders who serve as Chief Motivating Officers connect people with the company, the message, and the strategy, and find it far simpler to accomplish their goals. They have an entire organization of people who are working to achieve their own potential, and feel energized by their common purpose. These leaders harness energy and talent, and drive their organizations forward,” said Bates"


The skills that C-suite executives need most in order to lead their organizations out of the recession are:
Meet with customers and prospects to build trust and win business (77%)
Communicate more effectively with their teams about priorities (75%)
Inspire people to brainstorm new ideas (74%)
Act as Chief Motivating Officers by communicating with passion (72%)
Engage people to take on a more active role in high-priority projects (70%)
Motivate employees and boost morale after layoffs/reorganizations (52%)
Develop a higher profile as thought leaders in the media (27%)

The skills that current executives most need to develop are:
Build trust among employees and customers (76%)
Align the organization toward a common purpose or vision (70%)
Articulate a strategic direction for the organization (68%)
Speak in a powerful way to motivate and inspire people to act (60%)
Develop and present fresh, bold ideas that establish their thought leadership (47%)
Persuade people inside and outside their sphere of influence (43%)
Motivate and engage employees through productive one-on-one conversations (34%)

The qualities that leaders need right now to move their organizations forward are:
Visionary (64%)
Trustworthy (60%)
Focused (59%)
Inspiring (50%)
Decisive (49%)
Confident (43%)
Motivating (35%)
Purposeful (33%)
Passionate (31%)
Influential (24%)
Empathetic (17%)
Tenacious (15%)
Bold (10%)

About ’Motivate Like a CEO’

Suzanne Bates is the author of “Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate Your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act!,” published by McGraw-Hill in January 2009, which became #1 best-seller in books on communication skills on She is also the author of the business best-seller “Speak Like a CEO, Secrets to Commanding Attention and Getting Results” (McGraw Hill 2005). She is President and CEO of Bates Communications Inc. and blogs at


 motivating employees
 engaging employees
 CEO skills
 trust building
 lead out of recession

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