George MacDonald made the following statement: “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” Mayor Ronnie looked at me and said, “Do you think that’s true?” I thought for a moment and replied, “Yes. There are people that I genuinely love, but I don’t trust them at all.” He nodded. I thought further and concluded that what I would like the most is to be trusted, even if I am not very popular. He agreed. MacDonald’s statement is the introduction to the chapter in Gen Vinnie Boles’ book, 4-3-2-1 Leadership entitled, “Trust: The Most Critical Component.”
We talked about the fact that our whole culture is facing a crisis of faith, and not just spiritually or religiously speaking. There is a leadership vacuum, people are “daddy hungry,” and the promises of “transparency” are fodder for late night comedy routines.
He then said, “If there is a lack of trust, our charge is to strive to achieve the trust factor.” Why is that tough to do? General Boles has some thoughts:
• “People have been burned by leaders in their past trust experiences, which heightens their resistance to trust in the future.
• It is hard to measure. Trust is viewed as a “touchy feely” objective. For example, how would write a performance objective that measured the level of trust that the leader attained from the led?
• Leaders find it difficult to do. They have to establish a climate of trust. That means letting people make mistakes and ensuring they learn from them. The leader has to let go of some of the control/power they perceive they have: “If I already know how to do it, why take the risk of letting you try it?”
• Trust is personal. Individuals have their own personal trust equation or logic trail they follow to confer trust in another. Some do it more willingly than others; however, you cannot assume because some seem to trust you that all do.
• Trust is easily lost. My experience has shown me that if a leader violates the bond of trust with the led, even once, that trust will be gone and not easily regained. Because it’s personal, people feel personally violated when trust is breached.”
“We have to do our best to live out our core beliefs,” Mayor Ronnie said. While we have talked about them in many articles, they bear repeating because, if they are upheld, our town will continue to thrive.
Number one is public safety; others include jobs, education, quality of life, and expressing one’s faith. He then said, “We also have to ask the question, ‘what does transparency mean to you?’” He added, “One way you do it is to open the public records re: budget items.” One of the things that the citizens will be voting on will be funding for the public schools, and on this ballot there will be two votes-one for the 12 mils property tax, and one designating the details as to how that will be dispersed. That is a first for our town, and oddly, the latter might not make everyone happy.
We talked about people that we admired for their transparency, and he mentioned Annette Barnes, who keeps track of the city’s finances. “I have never seen anyone who is more careful with each line item,” he said. “We are blessed to have her,” I said. We prayed, asking for the ability to build trust and be transparent, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner