Building Trust

In this blog I’d like to focus on the issue of building trust and what this means for us as those seeking to grow, build community, and come along side others struggling on their way. Recent events ranging from terror threats in our neighbourhoods and overseas, fatal diesease alerts, high profile stars offering apologies for indiscretions, to children being the victims of violent crime in the school yard highlights to me that as a society we are struggling in our core values, leaving a growing sense of vulnerability within our broader community. While a feeling of helplessness can abound as we see our kids in crisis and community safety in jeopardy, it is vital that we bring our attention to what we can do as a collective to strengthen the ties of community. While examining policies around managing safety are certainly important, what is needed to strengthen community is not just a better systems of management but of leadership from all levels of society that encourage us towards the restorative processes of trust to safe guard the things we value as a community.

Mary Phiper (1996) comments ‘that while many of our young people are moving gracefully into responsible adulthood, many are in trouble. This generation is technically sophisticated, cynical and tired… and it’s mostly because they lacked demonstrations of will and character which can be defined as the ability to decide and act on core values ’ (The Shelter of each Other). While this generation is savvy, they are vulnerable because a surplus of knowledge does not generate wisdom and neither does an abundance of possessions fill the void left by a lack of trust.

Stephen Covey (2006) in his book The Speed of Trust, reminds us that building trust, both within ourselves, in our relationships, in parenting and in business first of all requires us to have confidence. But this confidence needs to be in the right things such as consistency, making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, only promising the things we know we can deliver and seeking to live a life where there is congruence between our words and behaviour and being a person who genuinely cares. These are the things that fill the void and when you really think about it are the qualities we admire in leaders who get things done. Ghandi never held official political office, but without doubt he was a leader and his legacy of building and restoring trust lives on well after him. He understood that bullying both on the playground and on the world stage is the fruit of mistrust and poor leadership. He knew he didn’t need a political office to do something about that bad fruit, rather just the will to be the change he wanted to see.

While emulating Ghandi and being a leader in our worlds might sound like a tall order, the beauty of these elements of trust-building is that while their effects can be powerful, the practice of trust-restoring leadership is simple and something we can all participate in throughout our everyday lives.. We cannot control tragedies or prevent every unpleasant thing happening to ourselves or those we love, but we absolutely can do something today that will build and restore trust. We can remember that while principles can be good things to think and talk about, they only become our values when we act on them. This is the essence of trust-restoring leadership; knowing what is in our power to do and having the will to act and see it through.

Copyright 2014 Marcia Watts

Words by Marcia Watts

Posted on 28 October 2014