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Honesty Develops Trust

Posted by: James
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I’m reflecting back on the Global Leadership Summit and one lesson I take from it that I didn’t expect to learn is that honesty develops trust. We heard from many speakers throughout the day all with varying opinions. What I found interesting is that it felt that some speakers appeared quite guarded in the opinions they expressed. That’s understandable; many of them have companies to run and speaking their true opinions on various matters may impact their companies or themselves negatively. Sometimes you need to stick to the company line.

Then there were the individuals who appeared to have broken free of these shackles or just didn’t care about the consequences. It felt like they were speaking from the heart: they showed passion about the issues discussed – not just repetition of a company line – and as a result, not only were they engaging, but I trusted them. I wanted them as my advisors, my friends, my confidantes.

The final speaker of the day, Olafur Grimsson, President of Iceland, epitomised this more than anyone throughout the day. His statements, such as “Why are banks considered holy entities?” and “I don’t accept the notion that banks should not be allowed to fail” were spoken with conviction. Perhaps its because he had experienced those tough times in Iceland and seen the impact that enabled him to speak with passion. But haven’t many leaders also been faced with tough choices? Why can’t they speak with that same belief? He ended with the advice to “trust and respect the advice of ordinary people.” Perhaps it’s easy to be refreshing when you’re a contrarian. But in a room full of people with MBA’s and financial backgrounds whom I would expect to be very pro-banking, he clearly struck a cord. For this honesty, he received multiple rounds of applause and a standing ovation from the crowd.

This year’s London Business School Global Leadership Summit will be remembered by many people for many different things. For me personally, I will remember it as a lesson that honesty, especially coupled with passion, enables you to build trust. I hope I can embody that in all aspects of my life as I move forward from studying my MBA.

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