I have never met Malcolm Turnbull. I have met Mr Howard, Mr Abbott, and Kevin Rudd’s wife Theresa, but I haven’t met the current Prime Minister. Do I trust him? All I have to go by is the Party he is affiliated with, and the snippets I hear in the media.
Personally, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. I trust them blindly you could say. My starting position is to trust a person until they prove to be untrustworthy. But this doesn’t mean that I’m not cautious in what I share.
What I have learned as a leader is that trust is enhanced the more visible you are. It makes sense. Trust is relational. It is a socially constructed phenomenon. It is cemented and grown if you interact with others; if people see you ‘walking the talk.’
My office as principal at Burgmann Anglican School was on the ground floor looking over the Junior School playground. Each break time there would be children playing outside, waving through the window. I had a direct connection to the life-blood of the organisation.
The office I have at St Paul’s School is on the second floor. It has a beautiful view over the surrounding hills but you cannot see the school. It is so far removed from the organisation that it can be tempting to lock yourself away and bury yourself in all the administration that has to occur.
My research into practices that engender trust taught me that there is incredible value in getting out of my office several times a day to see what is happening around the place: to listen to the ‘pulse’ of the organisation, listen to people’s stories; to celebrate and praise the great things that are happening; and, to model the expectations that the organisation espouses. I hope that I do this well.
Being visible gives the people who follow you the opportunity to prod and poke to see if you are genuine, that you are the ‘real deal’. It gives those people who don’t naturally offer trust blindly, like me, the opportunity to see who their leader is. Are they someone they want to follow, or is their trust going to be misplaced?
Mr Turnbull can’t be visible to me personally, unless I have the opportunity to meet him sometime in the future, but as a leader, I can be visible to everyone in the organisation I serve. I have learned that walking up to eight kilometres a day to be visible is not a waste of my time, but incredibly important to my ability to lead and create a culture that enables people to flourish.