For the past few months, we have watched the candlelight gatherings in Seoul which hurt the political leadership in many ways. Though the controversy of whether the risk of mad cow disease would be critical to consumers’ health has remained, the issue damaged political leadership in the early stages of the new government.
What would you say the most important element in leadership is? I would say it is trust. In general, research indicates that trust is composed of two elements. The first element is integrity. Integrity refers to the extent to which an individual or an organization is transparent in terms of moral and legal responsibility. The subset of integrity often follows openness and transparency. In television and newspaper news, we’ve seen that some political candidates are often deficient the integrity quality. In particular, integrity is the most critical factor in our society.
Most literature on trust names expertise as the second trait of trust. Expertise refers to the level of proficiency in an individual’s particular area. Professional skill, knowledge and capability are similar synonyms which refer to expertise. I ask myself: How much integrity do I have? How much expertise in my area of study do I have? In essence, trust has been regarded as one of the fundamental characteristics of reputation when it comes to leader image or brand image. In an election, voters cast votes based on the perception of a candidate, called personal image. The consumer is more likely to buy a well-known brand than an unfamiliar brand. We don’t buy unfamiliar brands because we don’t want to take the risk of losing financial resources or receiving a psychological burden.
Leaders want to gain trust from their subordinates, employees, voters and public. Building trust is not an easy task. Trust is a combined asset accumulated over a long time. Trust theory and trust building research would be useful resources to anyone who wants to be a leader. Without integrity and expertise, a leader would be just a boss or manager. The summer heat wave is now preparing to leave us. Finally the seasonal cool air of autumn is just around the corner. Why don’t we spend this fall raising our expertise to become trustworthy people?