A Deficit of Trust

By | July 11, 2017

[July 11, 2017]  If people like you, they will listen to you, however if they trust you, they will follow you anywhere.  I would like to highlight a dangerous trend in America; one where we are witnessing a deficit in trust in its major institutions – specifically the news media and our representative government.

“Trust is the glue of life.  It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.  It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey, American educator and businessman

I use the term “dangerous” explicitly.  The fabric that holds any society together is the trust factor.  People can dislike someone (even hate them) and find their behavior objectionable but if that person is trusted, then there is common ground for social transactions.  When trust is lacking, all means of holding people together evaporates.

Strong leadership is required to overcome the unfortunate circumstances surrounding any profession or institution lacking in trust from the general public.  A good example is how the U.S. military went from being one of the most distrusted institutions in the 1960s to one of the most trusted today.

They did this by design: improving accountability, tackling internal problems head on, and by a cultural change where individual character, teamwork, openness, and honesty became highly valued.  In the 1960s, junior leaders learned how quickly how mistrust damaged the military and set on a specific course to fundamentally change the military institution.  Years later as senior leaders they would be those who later made the right changes … and it worked.

When high profile leaders from any institution are discovered to be dishonest or deceitful, the entire profession suffers.  For example, we again see how the news media has been propagandizing recent elections in the United States.  Called “fake news,” their actions speak loudly about the ethics of the entire profession.

Here at the theLeaderMaker.com blog, I’ve written several times about how to build trust (see links here  and here) and how leadership is consistently linked with trust (see links here, here, and here).  America appears to be in a death spiral of distrust; some will say.

I, on the other hand, believe that the U.S. is much more resilient and that good leaders will step forward to help right the ship.  They have done so in the past and will do so again; that is part of what is called the “American Spirit.”

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