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What My 13-Year Old Taught Me About Being Trustworthy

And about being a trustworthy leader

Do you know who you can trust?

Can you be trusted?

Merriam-Webster’s online defines Trustworthy as:

Able to be relied on to do or provide what is needed or right: deserving of trust

Just recently, trustworthiness became a big issue with my daughter. If you have read my previous posts on the lessons I learn from her, this one will not disappoint.

It was her seventh grade year. She tends to be the shy type, but she decided to step out on faith and run for student council president. Her first time ever doing something so public.

When making the decision she said, after reviewing all of the entry rules, 

Mom, I have looked these over and I think that this is a very appropriate position for me.

I grinned and chuckled silently, partly because of how nonchalantly she said it and because I envied her confidence.

So, she was off to the races! She was running against 3 other students, two of which had participated on the student council the previous year. She crafted her speech, I reviewed it and she submitted and waited to present it.

A few weeks went by and she and the other kiddos gave their speech to each class in the school. She told me that she was nervous, but felt good about her delivery and her chances.

Then, to everyone’s surprise, and after rumors swirled that staff may have been playing favorites, the council’s sponsor announced in class and via an all-class letter that three of the candidates were disqualified for not exhibiting good character and leadership. The argument was that the candidates made promises that swayed the other students to vote for those candidates.

This was against the guidelines.

One of those candidates was my daughter.

She was devastated!

Was she devastated because she lost? No.

She and I already spoke about the potential and what this meant for her in the long-term.

Nothing.

She was devastated, because some students began to chastise her and the other students saying that they “cheated.” She felt like everyone doubted that she could be trusted. It was a hard pill for my husband and I to swallow too. We knew her to have an impeccable reputation for being compliant and obsessively conscientious about doing the right thing.

We were all shocked, to say the least. In fact, just a couple weeks before, she received a special award for “leading people to the truth.”

One night, a few days into the entire fiasco, I sat by her on her bed to see what was on her mind. She was visibly still hurting. My heart hurt for her too. She said with her voice shaking,

Mom, now people don’t think of me as trustworthy. I thought I could trust the teachers and principal. I don’t know how this is happening. I always try to do the right thing!

She was in tears. I could feel her disappointment.

In that moment, she highlighted for me not only the importance of being trustworthy, but the importance of being able to trust leaders, or those “in charge.”

While she was just thirteen and didn’t understand how complex personal motivations can be in driving what people do, I could not help but question it too.

How many times have people second-guessed your ability, desire or willingness to do what you say you would do?

How many of your managers have given you reason to trust them?

How do you think customers decide whether or not to purchase products or services? 

Do you think trust has anything to do with it?

Trust is the foundation for any long-term relationship.

Organizationally, employees must trust their leaders. Leaders must be able to trust that employees will execute on key initiatives in line with organizational values. Customers need to be able to trust that organizations will deliver what they promised.

Like my daughter, we should all work hard to maintain that sacred trust that exists between all of us. We should feel as though a piece of us is missing when trust is lost. We should all strive to be as trustworthy as possible in what we say and do every day.

In a compelling twist, my daughter’s story ended on a mostly good note. An incoming leader decided that it would be fair that all three students still serve on the student council given their effort and their level of trustworthiness. Despite this outcome, some trust was lost. This new leader took a good first step in the right direction.

What one thing will you do today to build trusting relationships?

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Thank you for reading this article. I hope my daughter’s experience and highlight of what it means to be trustworthy drives you to take a deeper look.

Please do share your experiences as it relates to being perceived as trustworthy or breaking down trust that existed by Commenting below. If you found this article to be valuable, please do Like or Share it.

Here is to being more trustworthy!!

Originally published at customerfanatix.com

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