Monday, July 24, 2020
The Nature of Trust
Trust has a fourfold nature. First, trust involves obligations. Your people need to be able to trust you to look out for them; to stand up for their interests and do all you can to help them survive and prosper. But you knew that, didn’t you? Great leaders have an unswerving loyalty to those who follow them. It’s so much an essential of real leadership, it’s hard to imagine anyone can suppose they can be a leader and treat their people with anything less than total devotion. Perhaps the best definition of a dictator is someone who demands complete loyalty from others, but gives none in return.
Secondly, trust is impossible without integrity. You cannot trust any organization or person who acts dishonestly or operates from a hidden agenda. One openly dishonest act is sufficient to destroy trust for an extended period. One deliberate lie ruins anyone’s standing as a person worthy of trust. One piece of misinformation or “spin” does the same for an organization. Lies and dishonesty are totally incompatible with trustworthiness.
The third element is openness. It is not impossible to trust someone who is secretive, but it takes much more faith to do so. Secrecy always implies that whatever is hidden has been concealed for a purpose; a purpose that may itself not be honest or acceptable, else why would it be hidden in the first place?
The fourth and last part of the nature of trust is keeping your promises. People who do not do what they say they will do are not trustworthy. Making a promise should be seen as an obligation that must never be broken willingly; never broken for any reason save the most grave and unavoidable of situations.
I don’t believe you can practice genuine leadership without a fundamental commitment to trust. Slow Leadership should, I think, go even further and demand no less than everything you have to give: trust, loyalty, openness, and a firm belief in the essential goodness of humanity. In return, it will offer you something no amount of money can buy—the lifelong love, admiration, and loyalty of those who have the privilege of working for you.
(This post is an excerpt from my new book, Slow Leadership: How to Make Your
Workplace Civilized, which is to be published this Fall. © Copyright Adrian W. Savage, 2006. All rights reserved.)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.