Trust is critical to organisational life and leadership development. In this column, I contend that many organisations, and especially their leaders, need to invest more effort to understand more fully the dynamics of trust and how to build it effectively.
The concept of “trust” has evolved over the centuries. Initially, it was used as a legal obligation to hold, maintain, operate, and then hand over to someone else valuable assets, usually land, without personal gain. This historical sense of trust as safeguarding persists today in terms such as Trusts, Trustees, and the concept of Fiduciary Duty.
Originally, trust described a code of honour among the wealthy and powerful. It was then extended to a benevolent governing attitude by those in charge towards others. Trust was a privilege of the elite, lacking a democratic dimension.