I’ve always said that trust is one of the most important requirements of a leader. People who follow a leader will be forgiving when it comes to many issues, but they will never forgive a leader who is untrustworthy. Many in positions of power, particularly politicians, think that they can get away with being untrustworthy, but it just does not work.
The issue of trust was recently the subject of a UK poll. The intention was to find out who are the most trusted people in the UK today. I guess none of you will be shocked to hear that politicians did not fare well in the poll.
We are becoming less trusting and scientists and teachers are not doing well and institutions such as the BBC are also suffering. Fifty per cent of those surveyed said a company’s trustworthiness and ethical practices are a big influence in their shopping habits.
Out of all of this shines a star, someone who the public trust and regard. This person is David Attenborough the English broadcaster and natural historian. He is best known for writing and presenting the nine natural history documentary series forming the Life collection that together constitute a comprehensive survey of animal and plant life on Earth.
I’m not qualified to carry out an analysis as to why out of all the people in the UK, David Attenborough is the most trusted. I guess his communication skills have a lot to do with why he is so trusted but also his knowledge of the natural world gives us great confidence in him as a knowledgeable person. He is also someone who is consistent and seen as fair and accurate.
It is very sad in this world today there are not more like David Attenborough out there for us to look up to in this stressful world. It is also interesting to note that Tom Hanks the actor was rated at number two in the survey. I guess that his support of same-sex marriage, environmental causes, and alternative fuels are causes that also endears him to those who trust and admire him.
Unfortunately, in surveys some of the most powerful people in the world are not trusted such as Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Boris Johnson. Our lack of trust is not just directed towards individuals but also organisations. Today many are questioning the trust they had for Boeing as the 737 Max crisis continues to unfold with no resolution in sight.
In this digital world there is nowhere to hide. Information about us all is being sold to businesses that want to use the information to promote the sales of their products. In democracies today information is being sold with the intention of influencing the outcome of an election.
Increasingly people in positions of power are finding themselves under the microscope when it comes to what they say and do. Traditionally, we tend to put leaders on a pedestal and hold them in high regard. With this more transparent world more of our leaders are being found wanting and as a result trust is diminished.
Let’s all learn from David Attenborough.