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How Important is It for a Leader to be Trustworthy?


Great question, and my first reaction is that having a trustworthy leader is the foundational and best thing that people in a relationship, a family, a group, a business, organization, or country would need. The reason is as Robert C. Solomon once said, “Trust opens up new and unimagined possibilities.”

One might ask, what is trust?

In my view, trust is expressive energy, a result of an investment that serves as a currency of a mutually beneficial and secure relationship between people.

Now, let us carefully consider the definition of trust highlighted.

1. Expressive energy – Trust or lack of it, is always conveyed in both words and action.

2. Investment which serves as a currency – As we all know, that which one does not invest in, the little one has with time, will diminish.

3. Mutually beneficial and secure relationship between people – That which is mutual suggests that there is the added value to both parties.

Talking about a currency, you will agree with me that with it, the more one has, the more purchasing power one has, and the more potential added value one stands to gain. On the other hand, the less one has, the less purchasing power one has, and the less potential added value one stands to gain.

Allow me to highlight first the outcome of an untrustworthy leader. Often, such a leader will have an illusion of what is the reality (think of himself or herself higher than one ought to). For example, one might think of himself or herself to be good, stable, and dependable, when in fact one is cruel, arrogant, and unpredictable. Such leaders usually create an environment that demotivates, restrain productivity, limit freedom, create a situation where people undermine each other, have low royale, low confidence, and low respect towards each other. Additionally, there is often a lack of interest to share critical ideas and information, lack of energy, and commitment.

The opposite is true for a trustworthy leader. He or she will foster an empowering environment that is inspiring and productive. This will be possible because, often people tend to be free (no looking over their shoulders), will on their own want to invest their time, effort, and energy to do more. They are more likely to be honesty (not to steal time and resources), want to do the very best they possibly can, and will be willing to go the extra mile. In other words, people will reach a stage where they will largely begin to do accordingly that which they say and promise to do.

In ending, let us remember the following wise words:

Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.” Arthur Ashe

You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment unless you trust enough.” - Frank Crane

Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.” - Warren Bennis

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Robert C. Solomon

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