35% of professionals in UK and Ireland would rethink accepting a job offer based on a company’s CEO – even if they ‘liked’ their line manager – with a further 15% stating that they would outright decline a job offer based on who the CEO is.

The findings come from new research from specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters – unveiling the significant role CEOs and leaders are having on workplaces and professionals in the UK and Ireland.

According to the poll of 2,000 white-collar professionals, over a third (38%) do not trust the leaders of their organisation to do what is right.

Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters UK, comments:

Anyone who has a significant ‘voice’ is feeling the pressure to use it wisely – and increasingly are expected to comment or provide a perspective on a host of different issues. With this ‘voice’ comes judgement – and our polls showcase that prospective employees are in fact making career decisions based on a CEO’s opinion, or lack of.

Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters UK

CEO Front & Centre

According to the poll, almost half of professionals feel that the CEO has the biggest impact on a company’s culture (48%) – with a further third (35%) stating mid-management are just as influential. Interestingly just 17% feel that it is the overall employees of an organisation that have an influence of the workplace culture.

Testament to this, is the recent news of Sam Altman – CEO of research company OpenAI – being fired by the company’s board and reinstated in less than a week.

According to reports, the change of heart by the board was in part driven by an employee-led threat of mass resignations.

The key to CEO success

Further to findings, two fifths (41%) of professionals believe that CEOs who ‘lead by example’ bring the most value to a company – whilst a quarter put CEO success down to being empathetic and a good listener.

Just over a fifth feel that being decisive and taking advice where needed is the key to winning people in the company over.

Chris adds:

It’s all about being in-touch with the people around you, having a diverse team, and hearing a host of different opinions and mediating on the single best solution to any problems that may arise. No matter how experienced a leader may be – they should never assume they have all the answers.

The solution: Two-way trust

The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found that out of the 71% of employees who felt trusted by their CEO, 87% trusted their CEO in return – whilst the 29% of professionals who didn’t feel trusted by their CEO, only 27% trusted their CEO.

Unsurprising results from the poll found that the two most common factors that led to employees distrusting CEOs was leaders having a ‘hidden agenda and playing into corporate politics’ (48%), and those who delivered unclear & inconsistent messages (31%).

Other factors that led to employees to distrusting were CEOs who lacked a strong voice (14%) – whilst only 6% were led to doubts over a negative reputation.

Chris concludes:

The blueprint for building trust is clear – employees want leaders who are transparent and good communicators who maintain a strong, consistent voice. Who aren’t afraid to play an active role in creating a positive culture.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.