“Leadership is based on trust. The foundation of trust is truth. Without truth, their can be no trust.” — Unknown


I found that quote several months ago and I have kept it front and center in my thinking about leadership and the impact and consequences between a good leader and one who cannot be trusted.

trustToday’s post is all about leadership. Not politics, but leadership. Not a concept that graduate management programs do a terrible job teaching, but honest-to-goodness engaging and rewarding leadership that inspires people to do things they may not normally want to do. It is about doing things right for the right reasons.

The really good leaders among us inspire passion while maintaining a steely focus on execution. They expect results but they leave the bullwhip or abusive rhetoric at the front door. They understand truth, the foundation of trust, is not a term of convenience.

With all the noise coming from the three-ring circus and ongoing reports of misstatements, daily accusations of fake news, or leaders saying whatever addresses the pressure of the moment, I think it is time to hit the pause button and reconnect with leadership values.

No one will follow a so-called leader who plays fast and loose with the truth to avoid accountability. No one will follow a leader who throws people under the bus when it suits their emotions of the moment or who resorts to bullying tactics to get his or her way.

No one wants to follow a leader who blames others for problems of the moment only to avoid accepting responsibility for their own mistakes.

There is no point-of-view “truth” or some perceived “principle” or strategy that can justify deliberately misleading those who follow you.

Modeling behavior is not a mere statement, some throw away line. It is truth and it takes a lot of work and consistency. When you hold a highly visible leadership position within an organization and you hold yourself up to be an example for those who work for you, what you say, what you do, and how you act, matters. Once you lose trust, once people feel that you cannot be trusted, the consequences are, not can be, but ARE grave for the organization and the people who depend on the enterprise for their livelihood.

Being a leader means that all eyes are on you. You do not get any timeouts for bad behavior or saying stupid or contradictory things. People you lead want and need to trust you.  When they find out that their trust has been betrayed it is difficult, if not impossible, to regain.

When you lead people you are playing with live ammunition. It is not a game and you cannot make up the rules on the fly because there are consequences.

Perhaps this quote sums it up best:

“I am a good enough of a person to forgive you but I am not stupid enough to trust you again.”  Unknown