the quintessential leader building trust and being trust worthy book

In the first post of this series, the excerpt from chapter 1 included a list of all the components we must develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy.

In the subsequent chapter excerpts detailing the components we need to have and develop to build trust and be trustworthy, chapter 2 discusses honesty, chapter 3 discusses integrity, andchapter 4 discusses fairness, chapter 5 discussesrighting wrongs, chapter 6 discusses accountability, and chapter 7 discusses consistencychapter 8 discusses sincerity, and chapter 9 discusses setting boundaries.

This post, which includes an excerpt from chapter 10, discusses the component of setting a higher standard that builds trust and makes us trustworthy.

Setting a higher standard should be the first thing people in leadership positions do. Before anything else.

While setting a higher standard goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries, setting a higher standard establishes evidentiary boundaries of character, which affects every area of our conduct. 

These are standards that we adhere to no matter where we are, what we are doing, or who we are with. And they are standards that we expect the members on our teams to adhere to as well.

Let’s look how a lack of setting a higher standard looks in real life. This should have everyone reading this nodding their heads because there is not one of us who hasn’t seen it.

How many times have we seen someone who seems to have a higher standard of conduct when we’re with them and then they deny that by their conduct (words and actions) when they’re not with us?

On social media, perhaps. With other people, perhaps. In different venues than the one(s) we associate them with. 

Now let me ask the harder question. What was our reaction to their lack of a higher standard?

If we shrugged it off, thinking it was no big deal, or if we were invited and joined into to whatever the conduct was, then we have not set a higher standard for ourselves either.

Only you can answer for yourself and only I can answer for myself, but if we have not set a higher standard, then we are not quintessential leaders and we are destroying trust and not being trustworthy.

Building trust and being trustworthy is an integrated trait of quintessential leaders.

It is also an integrated trait that all of us – because each and every one of us leads at least one team, small or large, of people in our lives – need to develop and have as part of the core of who we are and what we are. In essence, this trait is at the center of exemplary character and conduct, and none of us should settle for anything less than this in ourselves and others.

Unfortunately, most of us settle for less. A lot less. In ourselves. In others. 

The majority of people in leadership positions today are not trust builders and they are not trustworthy. Many of us, frankly, are also not trust builders and trustworthy.

We live in a world that with no moral code as its foundation that expects trust to be non-existent or broken. Look around. It’s everywhere, including, in many cases, very close to you.

And society has become so accustomed to this that it glorifies it instead of condemning it.

Politicians who lie routinely, who line their pockets with money and perks while making decisions that hurt and destroy the people they are supposed to represent, who cheat on their wives because they can.

Arts and sports celebrities who have no regard for faithfulness to their spouses, who live hedonistic lifestyles that destroy their families, the people around them, and, eventually their lives.

Religious leaders who cheat on their wives, who cheat on their taxes, and who scam their congregations both in how they deceitfully handle the word of God and in coercive and corrupt financial matters, acquiring wealth and power in the process.

Business leaders who destroy millions of lives by deceit, fraud, and illegal actions that result in their employees and customers losing everything while they escape any kind of punitive action and instead reap obscene profits and end their tenures – only to go to another financially lucrative position – with golden parachutes that are equally obscene.

And we, as individual leaders for our teams, who cheat on our taxes, who are routinely dishonest with the children (our own and others) and other people entrusted to us, who routinely steal things from our workplaces (you most likely didn’t pay for that pen you’re using at work, so it doesn’t belong to you), who routinely break traffic laws, who will walk out of stores with something we were not charged for and never think twice about it, who will take extra money that we’re not owed in financial transactions without blinking an eye, who cheat on our spouses, who marry until “divorce do us part,” and who, as a course of habit, break confidences of family and friends, gossip about family and friends behind their backs, and destroy reputations in the process.

Maybe we haven’t thought about building trust and being trustworthy at this kind of nitty gritty level.

But until we do – and we develop and have this trait as the core of who and what we are – we will not build trust and we will not be trustworthy. And we will not be quintessential leaders.

Trust and trustworthiness is probably the single most important trait we can possess. And it is also the most fragile.

It can take a long time to build and be, but it can be broken irreparably in a single second.

Therefore, this is a lifetime work on and in ourselves that we must commit to making an integral part of our character by continually developing it, maintaining it, and growing it. 

This goal should be our goal.

But it requires courage. It requires diligence. It requires vigilance. It requires continual self-examination. It requires continual change. It requires the ability to, much of the time, stand alone to maintain.

It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the vacillators. It is not for the crowd-pleasers. It is not for the pretenders. It is not for the wannabes. It is not for the weak.

But if you’re reading this, I know that you’re not any of those kinds of people. Those kinds of people won’t even read this because it requires time, effort, change, and commitment, and too many of us are, sadly, either just too lazy or we just don’t care. 

Building Trust and Being Trustworthy takes an in-depth look at the “this is what it looks like in practice” aspect of each of the components we need to develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy. The second chapter discusses the component of honesty in building trust and being trustworthy.

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Excerpt from”Chapter 10: The Setting A Higher Standard Component of Trust and Trustworthiness”

I’ve thought deeply about this component for quite some time as I’ve, over the course of the last few years, observed in almost every area of life – families, politics, education, religion, military, business, society, and in many individual lives, not only the absence of a higher standard of performance and conduct, but increasingly, no-standard of performance and conduct.

It seems that the “anything goes” philosophy has become the norm in the world.

It has, because of the most recent US presidential election, a very thought-provoking article entitled “General Failure,” in the November 2012 issue of The Atlantic – which was written well before the revelation of General David Patraeus’s adultery with his biographer and the possible adultery of General John R. Allen with Jill Kelly – and finally the resignation of General Patraeus from being CIA director, come back full-force into my line of vision.

This kind of behavior (all the parties know each other and are closely linked to each other) among the powerful in Washington, DC, based on what I’ve read and heard about it, is not only commonplace, but is seen as acceptable. 

The initial reactions from people in leadership positions – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), for example, who implied that General Patraeus should not have resigned because he committed adultery – made it evident that not only are people in leadership positions not setting a higher standard for performance and conduct, but there is, in fact, no standard.

It seems to me that before we talk about setting higher standards in terms of performance and conduct, we need to talk about adultery and why it falls into the higher standard category on a personal and leadership level.

Marriage vows are taken based on the trust of two people in each other. By their very nature, they create a trust relationship.

By entering a marriage covenant, both parties are setting, demanding, and promising to adhere to a higher standard of conduct. When either party to those vows, which are made traditionally before God and people, breaks them, that person breaks the trust relationship.

Frankly, if a spouse shows untrustworthiness and destroys the trust in his or her closest personal relationship in life, then he or she is untrustworthy and destroys trust in every part of his or her life.”

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