When we look at leadership across the world and start to analyse what is happening, invariably we will conclude that there is a ‘trust deficit’. This simply means there is a complete lack of trust between the so-called leaders and the so-called followers. I use the word ‘so-called’ because of the presumptuous environment that most of these leaders find themselves in. The presumption is normally that whoever is at the top of the hierarchy is the leader, and the rest are presumed to be followers.
The idea of the leader being at the top is not what makes the situation bad. What actually makes this situation bad, resulting in an absolute lack of trust, is that the leader has assumed a role of dictator as opposed to being a servant of the people. We are only really able to understand what the role of a leader is when we understand it in the context of a relationship. Everything in life is about relationships and therefore when we get the basics right in the relationship environment, we are able to duplicate and scale that into our leadership roles. What never changes is that we are always a servant of our followers and not their slave – therefore if we’re not the slave then neither can we be the master. Interestingly enough, the only time the master and servant scenario will work is with the universal rule that states the borrower is the servant to the lender.
Let’s understand this in terms of a relationship; the two partners in a relationship either trust each other, resulting in a great relationship, or they don’t, which normally results in a toxic relationship – and the best would be not to be in a relationship like that. However we know that many people are in such relationships. We wonder how this happens or how people allow themselves to be ruled by others. We can agree that the so-called ruler is definitely not a good partner and we could say the same if the person was a leader, because it is simply not acceptable to treat people like that!
Trust is what is needed in relationships and when trust is present, leadership becomes a by-product due to the fact that if we can trust ourselves, we can trust others. Likewise, when trust is present we are able to lead our own lives and others will be attracted to this example. When we are unable to trust ourselves there is no example and therefore we are unable to trust others. The result then, in us giving instructions to others, is that these instructions are usually not very clear and we set others up for failure. When they fail, it confirms that they are untrustworthy and further persecution takes place. The long-term results are disastrous and most will look for short-term solutions and not for the root of the problem.
The solution is simple … When I trust you, you might trust me and we will be able to accomplish much. If I am unable to trust myself, then let’s hope I am nowhere near people, not in a relationship, and definitely nowhere near a leadership position.