Trust and its impact on Leadership

“Trust starts with truth and ends with truth.” ? Santosh Kalwar

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370 has demonstrated how importance trust is in maintaining effective relationships. The distraught families of those who have loved ones on board the missing plane are becomingly increasingly angry at the lack of communication from the management at Malaysian Airlines.

The families don’t believe the Leadership at Malaysian Airlines  are being honest with them and giving them full information about their efforts to find flight MH370. As a result they have no trust in the people they speak to and are automatically suspicious of what they are told.

This lack of trust is creating PR problems for the Malaysian Airlines Leadership, raising questions about their competence and resulting in time management pressures which they can ill afford with the plane still missing. What makes it worse is that the problems are all of the airline’s own making.

The families are naturally going to be worried and desperate for any scrap of information that may give them an answer to what has happened with the flight. The most humane and sensible course of action for the Airline Leaders would have been to immediately appoint someone to liaise directly with the families and keep them up to speed with exactly what was happening and the plans that were being put in place to try and trace the plane. Instead it appears that, certainly initially, the families found out what was happening via the media. This is clearly not acceptable and explains why there is a huge trust issue in play.

There are huge lessons for Leaders to learn from this unfolding mystery. People will respond better when they are treated as adults with open and honest communication. When people know what is happening around them, what is expected of them and where they stand in  relation to their role trust can be established between the leader and their people.

Here are 6 areas that people need to consider when trying to establish trust in a relationship:

Caring: How do you demonstrate that you care for your people and are not just focussed on achieving the task? If you only focus on the task people will find it difficult to trust your motives.

Reliable: Do you keep your promises? Can they rely on you for support? If they can’t rely on you to be there for them trust will break down – if it was ever established in the first place!

Consistent: Are you consistent in your reaction to situations? If you are erratic in your behaviour and your reactions people will be more reticent to approach you to discuss issues. People are reassured and more confident when they know what to expect from you.

Competent: Are you good at your job? Do you have sufficient experience to generate confidence in your abilities? If people have faith in your ability they are more likely to trust you to make the right decisions in areas that affect them.

Reciprocal: Do they get back what they give? If they are going to go the extra mile for you, they need to know that you will do the same when the occasion arises.

Fair: Do you treat people fairly? It can be difficult to give tough feedback, and people don’t find it easy to hear. However if they see you as a fair person, someone who looks for the good in people and treats everyone as equal, they are far more likely to view the feedback in the spirit that it is given.

If you were to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on the 6 qualities above, what scores would you give yourself for how well you demonstrate them?

How would your people score them for you?



The missing flight MH370 is a human tragedy in the making, and while we can learn some lessons about trust from the incident, we should also remember the impact on those who are still hoping their loved ones can be found. The daughter of the chief steward on board the flight tweeted this message during the Manchester United Liverpool game last weekend:

Daddy, Liverpool is winning the game. Come home, so you can watch the game! You never miss watching the game. It’s your very first time. :’)

I hope they can soon find the answers to their prayers.


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One Response to Trust and its impact on Leadership

  1. George says:

    Great post It’s given me a lot to think about – Time to start putting some of your advice into practice!

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