Leaders need to remember that trust is hard to acquire and easily broken. This week Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State University. If you don’t know the story simply Google his name. The short version is that this much loved, legendary, well respected coach of an American college football team did not do nearly enough to report the criminal actions of an alleged pedophile who was a senior member of his staff.
We earn trust one rung at a time as we climb the ladder of trust with the people around us. However when that trust is broken we don’t just lose it one rung at a time. When you fall off a ladder you hurdle all the way to the bottom, the same is true of trust. It is a delicate thing and no leader gets to abuse it and survive for very long.
The Roman Catholic Church as well as the Boy Scouts of America are two large institutions that have been in the headlines for breaking trust along with a whole host of other church, business and political leaders. The news cycle provides leaders with regular reminders that looking the other way or if I ignore ‘it’, ‘it’ will go away doesn’t suffice.
PLEASE use this current tragic story to be certain you, as a leader, have a firm grip on the trust ladder. At the very least you can do what Joe failed to do; muster the courage to protect the children and youth in your sphere of influence. – BB