b'FEATURED ARTICLE#MeToo In an era of #metoo, fake news and alternative facts few would dispute that we face a global crisis around trust in the workplace and more broadly in society. Hundreds of thousands of people from all organisational spherescorporate, not-for-profit, and voluntaryare all longing for leaders they can trust. T he experience of COVID-19 has only escalatedin the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). This immense the cry: Who can we trust when making decisionschallenge was incredibly rewarding because, with the about our health and livelihood? support of an excellent governing body and staff, I was able to create an institution that was reflective of what I believed and valued about education: a place with a strong The Harvard Business Review regularly runs articlessense of community where relationships were central; about trust. Robert Hurley, faculty member in the Higheducational programs that were inclusive and respected Impact Leadership program for executives at Columbiathe strengths and gifts of each individual; and a strong Business School, surveyed 450 executives of 30connection and partnership with the schools owners, companies around the world. In his 2006 article, Thethe Anglican Church. After ten years and two contract Decision to Trust, he wrote, Roughly half of all managerscycles, and having achieved the vision, I handed the reins dont trust their leaders, a sentiment that reinforced ato another Principal to lead it through the consolidation growing trend.phase.A survey of Americans in 2002 found that a bleak 69 perMy second appointment was equally challenging, cent of respondents agreed with the statement, I justbut for completely different reasons. St Pauls School dont know whom I can trust anymore. Those figures werein Brisbanes north was about to celebrate its 50th no better in 2015; in fact, they were possibly worse, withanniversary and I was keen to further my leadership skills Statista, a statistics portal drawing upon 22,500 sources,by moving to an established organisation. What I didnt stating that 80 per cent of people surveyed in 27 marketsrealise in commencing this new role, and what I totally across the globe distrust their governments, businesses, orunderestimated, was the power of the prevailing culture. both, according to Edelmans Trust Barometer. This culture had been shaped by historical events that I wonder what the findings would be now, two years afterhad occurred at the school in the 1980s and 1990s, when the start of the pandemic? more than 120 boys had been abused over the course of 17 years. The leadership style of the three previous heads in dealing with these issues, a style that contrasted starkly For the past twenty plus years I have been the principalwith my own, had a significant impact on the organisation. of two large non-government schools, with annualThe year prior to my appointment, staff turnover was 30 turnovers between AU$20 and $40 million. My role asper cent. The policies, systems and procedures created headmaster is not unlike that of a CEO of a not-for-profitin response to the massive failings on the part of the organisation. I am responsible to a board for all aspectsschool and its owners (the church) to keep students safe of strategy, finance, risk, compliance, human resources,in the two decades before the turn of the century had the capital infrastructure, wellbeing and academic programs.unintended consequence of all but extinguishing any hint While these two schools were from the non-governmentof trust within the organisation. sector, they couldnt have been more different in terms of what was required from me in the leadership role. I spent the first few months in my new role as principal, listening to each of the 220 staff. The overriding sense I My first appointment was as the founding head of agained from these conversations was a question framed in school that was going to be built in a new satellite cityno uncertain terms: Browning, are you trustworthy?4 6 FACE 2 FACE MAGAZINE'