It seems like every time we turn around, some high profile person, a leader, and a respected member of the business world, does something really dumb and completely betrays the trust of the people who put them into that role in the first place. Why do they do it, and what can we learn from it?
One that has struck home for me recently is a British MP, who shares the same name as me, Andrew Griffiths. Most recently, Mr Griffiths sent 2000 text messages in a seven day period to a barmaid, mostly revolving around the theme of kinky sex. Apart from the fact that he is married and his wife only just had a baby a few months ago, most people are wondering how on earth he has the time to do any work when he is that busy sending text messages. A fair enough question.
But again, why on earth do seemingly intelligent people do such dumb things? Who knows, I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons, none of which really should excuse such terrible behavior. Why throw away their families, their careers, their standing in the community, generally by surrendering to some base urge? It has happened forever and it will probably keep happening.
For me the issue is that we all face temptations, often we don't know what we will do until we are put into that position. The reality is though, that as much as we shake our heads in despair at the carrying on of politicians, Hollywood moguls, business tycoons and others, we are all becoming more cynical and mistrusting of people in public profile positions. And we almost expect them to do the wrong thing.
Is this impacting those of us in the entrepreneurial world? I think it is. I think we all face much greater scrutiny, from potential customers, partners and the broader community. We need to hold ourselves to a very high standard, especially as the world goes through a confidence crisis and most certainly a trust crisis.
My advice is simple, as always, develop your own code of conduct. Think about the scenarios that you could find yourself in and think about what you would do if these scenarios became real. Be honest and ask yourself if you would the right thing or not (and we all know what the right thing is).
My point here is that we need to hold ourselves accountable far more than any one else. We need to have black and white rules that we live our lives to, that show our character and who we really are. And we need to do this because our customers expect it from us and in many ways they are now demanding it of us.
In a world sorely lacking in trust, trust itself has become a powerful commodity. If you prove yourself to be trustworthy, you can build a huge reputation. But people won't just take your word for it, you have to lead with your actions and show that you are trustworthy rather than just say you.
I know it's easy for this to sound theoretical, and irrelevant, but I have no doubt that in the years ahead, we will all be forced to take a long hard look at how we act, the messages we send and the trust we either create or erode. And this will in turn have a huge impact on everything we say and do both in the business world as much as in our personal world.
So the question we really need to ask ourselves is, "am I trustworthy?". If the answer is yes, we must do whatever we can to keep this reputation in intact. If the answer is no, it's time to ask ourself some long hard questions and make some decisions about how we want to live our life.
Topics like trust, kindness and generosity are being used more often in the business environment and this is simply showing a humanizing of the world. These words have far more significance today than they have ever had and the smart business owner realizes this and embraces them for what they mean and what they stand for.
In this instance it's all about trust. The world is changing, it is becoming transparent, we need to be brave enough to be transparent as well, because that is the thing that will create deep trust. And to be transparent we have to be confident that we are doing the right thing, in every way, all of the time. Ideally living a life where those who trust us are never disappointed by the things we do (or the things we don't do).