Ways for leaders to win back hearts and minds

What senior executives should do to regain people’s trust and confidence 

Win back hearts and minds


Leaders hoping to win over disillusioned employees should speak from the heart, anticipate conflict and help people to be their best selves at work.

The advice comes from London Business School (LBS) faculty who have compiled their 11 tips for restoring faith in leadership. Their insights are timely, given the recent media coverage of Donald Trump’s presidency. 

Trump’s ability to lead is under scrutiny following claims by author Michael Wolff that the US president is “beyond reason, beyond control [and] beyond expectations”.  

In his book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Wolff says that top officials working with the president refer to him as a “dope” and a “moron”. Trump has described the book as fictional and the author as a fraud. 

Senior executives, who like Trump face questions about their leadership, can regain people’s trust by changing how they deal with conflict, discussion and debate. That’s according to Randall S Peterson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Academic Director of the Leadership Institute at LBS. 

“The leaders who get the best outcomes and inspire others are those who plan for conflict before it emerges, and keep the conversation focused on what works for the group rather than accommodating individuals,” he said.

Speaking from the heart is also key to winning back people’s trust. François Ortalo-Magné, Dean of LBS, said: “My experience is that with the right mindset – or should I say ‘heart-set’ – whatever words, tone or body language that emerge, they achieve your intention.

“Bring to mind moments of heightened gratitude ahead of an awards ceremony. Bring to mind a sad memory ahead of a phone call about a family loss. And then, let your mind, body and voice do their jobs from this deeper foundation.”

Dan Cable, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and author of Alive At Work, believes bosses can re-engage people by helping them to develop and grow. He said: “As a leader, ask yourself this question: how do I encourage employees to use their strengths to invent, experiment and try new things, even though they may not always work out as planned? And then, ask your employees how you can help them do their jobs better.”