The ancient Romans had a tradition. When an engineer constructed an arch; as the capstone was hoisted over the structure and lowered into place, the engineer would stand under the arch demonstrating his complete confidence in his design. It was a profound expression of accountability. Rather than expecting others to become victims of his failure, he personally and publicly bore the consequence of whether or not he had fulfilled his duty.
Even more important, and because of the accountability it provides, this tradition enabled trust. Having witnessed the architect being held accountable for his design, pedestrians would have complete trust in the arch and freely pass under, or over it without concern.
In a sense, the duty of leadership is like building an arch. Every decision, action, and policy a leader implements must serve the interests of the people and the organization he is called to lead. Like building an arch, the leader is developing infrastructure to cover and protect or providing passageways to improve the society he leads. When the leader is accountable for his actions, when the integrity of his decisions are open to examination and he is made to answer for his policies; his credibility is demonstrated and people will trust both him and what he builds.
Saying that “leadership is a trust” is to say that a leader’s authority exists to serve the public’s interests, not the personal interests of the leader. People submit themselves to leaders, they support leaders because they trust that the leaders will have their best interests, and the interests of the organization at heart—not the leaders’ own interests. This means that a leader’s actions and decisions or exercise of authority should never be intended to give that leader some personal benefits or to advance their own interests. When that trust of leadership is violated, we call it corruption.
To learn more click here