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Mistrust of Leaders Moving Up the Ranks

News of corporate shenanigans at companies like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco continues to destroy employee trust in the leaders of all organizations. A recent Harris Interactive online survey of over 7,700 U.S. workers revealed that only 37 percent of respondents feel that their organization's "top management displays integrity and morality." In big companies--those which employ 5,000 people or more--that number falls to 30 percent. And employees in the early stages of their careers, those age thirty-four years or younger, are less trusting of their leaders than workers nearing retirement are.

While the survey corroborates previously reported trends in employee mistrust of senior management, it also sheds light on how those in middle management view their companies. Only 63 percent agreed with the statement "I really care about the fate of this organization." And just over a third said they are willing to promote their organizations as a great place to work.

Corporate consulting firm The Concours Group commissioned the survey. Tamara Erickson, its executive officer, told the Wall Street Journal how alarming it is "that the very people you're counting on to engage people are themselves feeling so disenchanted with what they're doing."

Consistency between an organization's stated values and its leaders' actual behavior is critical to . When there is discrepancy between what its top leaders say and what they do, employees tend to assume that all of the company's leaders are frauds. Being lumped together with those impostors can weigh heavily on middle managers who are as disturbed by senior management's actions as their employees. If you find yourself in that position, remember to stay focused on the values that attracted you to the company in the first place. Those values can serve as inspiration when practicing leadership becomes difficult, and add meaning to your personal pursuit for credibility.
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