Leadership and Trust

01 May

Central to the discourse regarding leadership is the idea that whether or not we trust God depends on our unstable faith; however, whether or not we trust human beings and can be trusted depends on our testable beliefs. Consequently, trust takes us to the realm of postmodern ethics, which demands from us responsibility for our choices and accountability for all of the consequences of our actions, including the unintended but predictable ones.

Stop for a moment and re-read the last sentence.

This issue of trust is paramount; it demands responsibility from truly authentic leaders for choices made and accountability for all the consequences of our actions, including the unintended but predictable ones. Our actions may have truly been unintended but predictable because of carelessness, unpreparedness, lack of vigilance, etc. Whatever the reason, this breach will have devastating consequences. Once trust is broken, it may take years for a leader to regain it from his or her followers – if it is ever regained at all.

For the organization, leaders build trust by clearly articulating direction and then consistently implementing strategies and processes needed even through there may be a high degree of uncertainty concerning the vision. Leadership authors Bennis and Nanus discovered that “when leaders establish trust in an organization, it gave the organization a sense of integrity analogous to a healthy identity.” This in an interesting dynamic we must embrace.

Do not treat this lightly. If we cannot be trusted – if we fail to walk with integrity and character and trustworthiness – the very message we proclaim will be rejected or made suspect because of our failure to live what we espouse.


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