Trust for better or worse

I often write about the importance of trust in the relationship between leader and follower.

When I mentioned this in a conversation with a friend,  they said to me, “Yes, leaders need to be honest, truthful and have integrity in order to generate trust”.

I thought about that for a while and then I realised its not true, there are many bad leaders who had hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands, of followers Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc., unfortunately this list is a very long one.

How can that be?

Well, I think this still comes back to trust.

The followers trust that they will benefit from following the leader; that their aspirations are aligned with that of the leader; and they are both aiming for the same goal, even if the goal is illegal, or worse.

It would be easy to say that bad people follow bad leaders, for bad read evil, but i don’t think that this is true either.

I would say that some misguided people follow bad leaders, or people start out following people they believe to be good, but as the they become more powerful, the leaders become corrupt and now these people find themselves  following a corrupt leader.

As they say, all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so it’s not surprising that some leaders become corrupt.

But without trust, even bad leaders would struggle for followers.

So as leaders, whatever our intention, building trust is what allows us to build our following.