The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

RLF Recap: "Exploring the Meaning of Trust" with Former Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch

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The Rockefeller Leadership Fellows had the pleasure of welcoming Governor John Lynch, the previous governor of New Hampshire, for a discussion about trust and its roles in corporate and public sector leadership. Governor Lynch started off the session by examining a Harvard Business School case study dealing with James Burke, a past CEO of Johnson & Johnson. Students brought up the different ways in which Burke excelled as a leader, including passion, listening to others, and taking risks. The focal point of the evening, trust, was woven into the discussion through an evaluation of the Tylenol-caused deaths in the case study. Governor Lynch asked us to critically assess our definition of the word “trust,” in the context of both sold products and interpersonal relationships. 

Overall, the group came to consensus that trust in a leader requires accountability, accessibility, and admitting your mistakes so as to improve upon them in the future. Governor Lynch then began to recount his own story of working in the corporate sector with Knoll furniture and in the public sector as the Governor of New Hampshire. The fellows received sagely advice on how to build trust, deal with opponents, and navigate the complex environment of public sector politics. The students really appreciated how open Governor Lynch was in responding to the questions posed by the fellows. Leaving the session the fellows will be better equipped to deal with scenarios where trust deficits inhibit the success of the organization and reflect upon the lessons learned.

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