Trust by Anthony Seldon
I am intrigued by the concept of trust, how it is earned, how it is lost, what the impact of a shift in levels of trust is and how it applies to the world of coaching and leadership. Here at the Forton group we have a set of principles that we believe support great coaching great leadership. One of these is trust - trust that the person you are working with is creative, capable, wise and good. This holds true for coaches and leaders. So I was fascinated to read what perspective on this Mr Seldon would bring.
This book was written some years ago and the author speculates about whether 2010 was a point in history where trust was at its lowest ebb. He cites many examples where trust had been eroded; politicians, journalists, police officers and many more. Clearly a time that inspired him to think through some of the key questions around trust and the author comes up with some good models and some practical ideas in different communities that would support the rebuilding of trust and create longevity of trust.
There’s an interesting discussion around trust being intrinsic or extrinsic and how the only enduring way to ensure trust is for it to be intrinsic. This chimes well with my belief that great leaders instinctively start by trusting people; because if their start point is that people have to earn their trust then the leader is constantly looking out for reasons not to trust and will almost inevitably find some.
I also found the analysis of a range of philosophical thoughts on trust a useful list ranging from Confucius and Plato to the modern day - this debate has been going on for some time! At the core of this is a debate about human nature - is trust innate or is humanity fundamentally self-centred, because if the latter, then trust has no relevance. In truth, there is always going to be a balance between individualism and collectivism and that balance is best maintained through a healthy level of trust. The other continuum that is important here is between regulation and ideology. Mr Seldon’s new model of trust is about balancing these four aspects.
There follows an interesting analysis of 10 reasons why trust has been eroded over the years and then an interesting chapter on how to recover trust. I admired the analysis contained in both these sections, drawing from the inspiration of philosophers and political writers over the ages. Some of the reasons and solutions are contentious, and the more interesting because of that. Mr Seldon’s ideas can’t be neatly pigeon holed into left or right
The author then goes on to give specific examples in different professions as to how to apply these lessons. As someone who is interested in leadership, I found a thread going through these about the need for people to step up, take ownership and responsibility, and actively rebuild that trust, in all the walks of life he discusses.
Overall, a fascinating contribution to the debate on trust and very relevant to leadership in our current times