There’s no escaping the lack of trust these days from local officials to world powers. Whether we get our news from television, newspapers or the internet, we’re inundated with highly emotional trust issues. Take the examples of the turmoil around a third bailout for Greece, the fear over a nuclear arms agreement with Iran, and the disgust with declared international truces in Ukraine, Korea, and Yemen and undeclared domestic truces in Ferguson and Charleston. In the US, trust issues will be a dominant theme in the presidential campaign as candidates accuse, blame, and attack. Reporters rely on phrases such as “can’t trust,” “lack of trust,” “trust but verify,”and “rebuild trust.” For most of us, these phrases are just diplomatic talk for “What were you thinking?” and “No, and Hell no!”
Honesty takes courage, consistency, and confidence. Great leaders don’t need to be perfect, but they need to possess a self-assuredness and fearlessness at all times that enable them to act truthfully, acknowledge their shortcomings, and admit their mistakes. Only then can they garner the respect of their team members and, by way of example, teach them to conduct themselves with the same level of integrity. Without a steady moral compass and a strong ethical backbone, it’s impossible to inspire, motivate, and encourage best practices in others. What I like to call “WOW leaders” do what’s right, not what they can get away with.