Leaders’ Communication Skills Found to Be Most Important to Earning Employees’ Trust

Press Release

WOODCLIFF LAKE, NEW JERSEY, April 30, 2014  – Communication skills are, according to a survey of more than 800 employees by talent mobility consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison, the most important leadership quality needed to earn trust. The survey found that 52% of workers value communication skills over competence, respect and empathy.


Excellent communication skills are often what separate great leaders from all the rest.

Kristen Leverone SVP, Global Talent Development Practice


Lee Hecht Harrison surveyed 835 workers throughout the U.S. via an online poll asking, “What is the most important leadership quality for building a trusting relationship with your manager?” The survey found:

Communication 52%
Respect 31%
Competence 11%
Empathy 6%

“As a leader, building trust in the workplace isn’t just about the level of competence you bring to your role, it’s also about your ability to influence, persuade, inspire and motivate,” said Kristen Leverone, Senior Vice President for Lee Hecht Harrison’s Global Talent Development Practice. “This ability comes from conveying honesty, authenticity and clarity in verbal and written communications, as well as demonstrating respect and empathy in personal interactions. We don’t trust people just because they do their job well; we trust those with whom we connect in a more personal way.”

According to Leverone, developing strong communication skills requires a high degree of self-awareness. “Excellent communication skills are often what separate great leaders from all the rest.  It requires practice and, sometimes, coaching. Leaders who are strong communicators look for opportunities to engage their people in conversations.They have the capacity to listen attentively, keep an open mind, speak truthfully and see other points of view. This creates an opportunity for leaders to demonstrate genuine interest, explore career needs and take advantage of opportunities to provide constructive coaching.”

Strong communicators gain more trust and inspire more loyalty among their employees, believes Leverone. “Employees know when their leaders are being insincere or evasive. Integrity is essential.  For leaders, the message is, ‘What you say matters.’ Your employees will tune out if they don’t feel leaders are listening or addressing their concerns. When they feel their interests and needs matter, that’s when you’ll see a workforce that’s more productive and committed to achieving goals.”

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