Having a trustworthy leader at the helm of business operations gives firms’ the reassurance that senior figures within a company will always work to uphold their ethos and goals.

However, deciding just who will demonstrate the utmost commitment to a company at the recruitment stage can be a challenge for today’s employers. Now a study carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in conjunction with the University of Bath has presented a potential solution to this problem, arguing that values-based interviews could help employers to unveil the trustworthy leaders of the future.

The study outlines that questioning candidates about their behaviour and beliefs during the interview process could support the process of identifying trustworthy leaders.

The research looks at four key qualities demonstrated by trustworthy leaders – ability, benevolence, integrity and predictability – which will manifest in different ways according to the particular makeup of an organisation, their approach to recruitment and their assessment and development processes.

Commenting on the study findings, Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, Dean of the School of Management at the University of Bath, who led the research, says: “Sometimes we let HR processes and systems get in the way of trusting our own judgements of a leader’s worth as a trustworthy person.

“What is needed is a balanced approach; HR processes and systems are great for ensuring consistency but should not be allowed to override a personal judgement of a leader’s trustworthiness. The HR system should not be allowed to override our own sense of judgement.”

The report, which drew on the case studies of practice in 13 organisations including BAE Systems, BBC Worldwide and HMRC, also outlined that trust needs to be understood in relation to workplace practices and relationships.

“What seems to be crucial in order to create an environment of trust and trustworthiness is that the practices and policies evolve alongside the relationships…trust is primarily relational and we believe that this needs to be recognised by organisations in order to cultivate trustworthy leaders,” the report outlined.

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