12 March 2018 | By Ian Thomson Community

The value of responsible leadership

At the University of Birmingham, academics are working with firms to explore what needs to change to drive more responsible business

Trust means different things to different people in different situations. In business it can be very tangible. When you have it, it’s a business asset that drives value – and when you lose it, it does, in fact, cost business. But trust is seldom recorded on balance sheets or in company KPIs. And how many business leaders place losing trust on their risk registers?

Good business leaders possess the ability to change behaviours on a personal, organisational or societal level. The big challenge lies in the ability to translate behaviour into practical action; for actions to become habits and for those habits to become a new reality.

This requires a transformation of approach. Business leaders can no longer rely on command and control. They need to find new ways to engage, involve and empower. And they need to create new ways of listening and communicating.

With the rise of citizen accounting and social media channels that allow the hidden stories of irresponsibility and abuse of trust to proliferate and reach global audiences in seconds – there is nowhere to hide.

As individuals and communities, as organisations whether sole traders, SMEs or corporates, we all have a part to play to support and sustain the world in which we live. The people around us – our colleagues, staff, customers and suppliers – trust us to behave in a certain way and to do the right thing.

Changes to come

As we develop and share knowledge about what is the ‘right and responsible’ way to live and work, hopefully trust can be built to transform the way we do things, for the better. We connect through trust, but the potential to damage that trust – whether deliberately or accidentally – is enormous. From poor service delivery to regulatory non-compliance; from individual wrongdoings to lax health and safety procedures; the list is long.

Yet it is not all doom and gloom. At the University of Birmingham’s Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, we have galvanised a top tier team of academics, with expertise across the broadest spectrum of economic, social and environmental responsibility, to explore exactly what changes we need to implement to become more responsible.

We are working with businesses, NGOs, and policy makers at the frontier of responsible business education and practice to embed responsible business behaviour into industry.

Adopting and implementing responsible business models will mitigate the risk of trust loss. It will increase the value of the business.

We see the future as that of responsible business; one in which responsible leadership is intrinsic to successful business leadership.

To learn more about the work of the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, please visit here. You can also contact Andy Newnham, Business Engagement Partner, to explore opportunities of business engagement with the Centre.

Join the discussion