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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.

This post, which includes an excerpt from the second chapter of Building Trust and Being Trustworthy, begins to look at each of those components extensively in terms of what they are and aren’t and what they look like and don’t look like in practice. 

The first component of building trust and being trustworthy that we must have is honesty.

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.


Excerpt from”Chapter 2: The Honesty Component of Trust and Trustworthiness”

Let’s look at some specific examples of what the quintessential leader trait of honesty looks – and doesn’t look – like. Maybe a leader is honest with his team not hiding any truth from them. But what if his or her team routinely sees the leader exhibit dishonest behavior outside the confines of the team?

Is the leader honest with his or her superiors, or does the leader routinely fudge, obfuscate, tell “little white lies” (there is no such thing: a lie is a lie is a lie) to them about things? This routinely occurs in most organizations. Sometimes it done under the guise of protecting the team and sometimes it’s done out of habit. Either way, it’s dishonest.

Is the leader honest with his or her peers or is he or she known to exaggerate or embellish on a regular basis? This is ego-driven dishonesty and comes from a spirit of competition and one-upmanship. This is definitely not a quintessential leader we’re talking about, but it reflects a lot of the people we see in leadership positions in organizations.

Does the leader respect company property and use it honestly? For example, if the leader has a company credit card does he or she use it strictly for company/business-related expenses or does the leader do things like put personal expenditures on it from time to time or use it to take everyone out for a night on the town during a business trip? Is their computer, phone, car – and anything else the company might provide – used solely for business or are they routinely employed for the leader’s personal use? If company property is used for anything other than directly-related-to-business purposes and things, then those uses are an example of dishonesty.

And here’s the net effect of these areas of dishonesty. Even if a leader is honest with his or her team, because he or she is dishonest in every other part of his or her life, the team can’t trust him or her. The team will question even the things that are true and will never trust the leader. The evidence is too compelling that, in the balance of things, he or she is untrustworthy.”

In one of Mike Myatt’s latest articles for Forbes online, entitled “9 Reasons to Lead in a No-Spin Zone,” this quote caught my attention because it describes quintessential leaders: “The reality is the best leaders are also absolutists when it comes to truth – they view truth as a non-negotiable.” And the first of Myatt’s reasons for this absoluteness is that telling the truth is a habit.

This trait of unwavering, habitual truthfulness is one of the components I identify as being a trust-builder and being viewed as worthy of trust in my book, Building Trust and Being Trustworthy, but what does it mean and what does it look like? (more…)