Regardless of your political allegiance, you’d have to admit there’s a lot of craziness around the 2016 Presidential Campaign. At the heart of the issue seems to be a lack of trust in both leaders. Voters are damning Trump’s treatment of people either physically or verbally. Likewise, voters are unconvinced of Clinton’s integrity. For someone who is on the eve of becoming a US Citizen in 2017, I am mightily embarrassed to think that from a country of over 300 million people, these two (Trump and Clinton) represent our best shots at leadership of perhaps the most powerful and influential country on the face of the earth.
So what’s the reason for our lack of trust in these two leaders? It’s not appropriate for me to share my own personal political views on this page but I believe we can glean something from this debacle, when considering leadership in today’s workplace.
The commodity leaders deal in is trust, which is an easy word to say but very hard to do. We often hear that people have to “earn” trust, and that it “takes time” to build. Why does that ring true with us? Well, I believe it’s because trust is character and competence. It takes time to observe someone’s character and to work alongside them to observe first hand, their competence.
Character is who you ARE, whereas competence is what you DO. I’m a great believer that, what we DO comes out of who we ARE. I remember working for a person I’d regard as a great leader. What this person DID or didn’t DO came out of their character. This person was trustworthy and so people were open to their lead.
It’s not always as clear cut as this though. I remember working for someone who was very competent but lacked character. This person was very self-centered; uncommunicative and suspicious of the capability of those around them. This person was highly competent as an individual worker. The problem was, this person was meant to be leading a group of 12 people. We didn’t follow, or offer up more than our individual job descriptions because this person lacked character.
I have found this to be a universal principle that people agree with: leadership is based on trust which is character plus competence. We cannot be trusted unless we have both. I believe one of the wonderful things about humans is that we can learn; we can shift our thinking and we can adapt. We can become better leaders and influencers of others by continually evaluating our character and by sharpening our competency.
I’m not sure who will win the 2016 election. I just hope they focus on building and earning the trust of the people, and on a personal note, I hope my family will be able to say, wholeheartedly in the future, that we trust our newly adopted country’s leadership. We’ll have to wait and see.