Reimagine: trust and leadership

Tetris in a Minecraft world

“We grew up in a Tetris world of trust. There were rules, top-down enforcement and we looked up to people that we trust. Our kids are growing up in a Minecraft world of trust that is completely distributed.”   

In this special series we’ve been exploring how we might move from crisis to transformation in an age of pandemics. We’ve been challenged to rethink our place in an entangled world, and to be good ancestors who protect future generations. We’ve explored how to build equitable health systems, inclusive and sustainable economies, and how to address the climate crisis. And we’ve explored new frames to address entrenched inequality and injustice. 

In the last episode of the current series, Peter explores the two X factors of 2020 – leadership and trust. Ask yourself this question: what differentiates the places around the world that have responded to Covid-19 effectively from those that have seen uncontrolled viral spread, excess mortality and economic devastation? The answer is not the number of ventilators or hospital beds, not the concentration of scientific expertise, not GDP. It’s leadership.

And trust goes hand in hand with leadership. High-trust societies have, for the most part, banded together with a sense of common purpose. Low-trust societies, or those in which leaders have squandered trust, have fractured and continue to flail.

Trust is at the heart of what happens in humanity’s next chapter. Global threats call for solidarity, and systemic change can only happen when people with different worldviews come together. Trust is the glue that binds us together, but it seems to be in short supply these days.

Rachel Botsman is a leading expert on trust in the modern world. She is the author of Who Can You Trust?, which explores how technology is transforming our relationship to trust. She’s the host of the Trust Issues podcast, and as the first Trust Fellow at Saïd Business School, Rachel aims to challenge and change the way people think about trust and related topics such as power, influence, truth and beliefs.

Rachel also gave us the title for this episode - Tetris in a Minecraft World. It’s a neat metaphor for the profound transformation we’re experiencing in a world that’s moved from hierarchies to distributed networks, a world where the rules of the game are being upended.

Peter chats to Rachel about trust in the era of Covid-19, especially when it comes to vaccines, the “Cummings Effect” that occurs when leaders flout their own rules, what Rachel calls the “trust leaps” that power reinvention, and the implications for leadership in a world rife with uncertainty.

Reimagine is presented by Oxford Answers and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. New episodes on Thursdays.


Rachel Botsman (@rachelbotsman), Trust Fellow @OxfordSBS, author What’s Mine Is Yours; Who Can You Trust.


Peter Drobac (@peterdrobac), Director of the Skoll Centre.



Rachel Botsman

Rethink Newsletter

Trust Issues podcast

Rachel’s TED talks


Producer/editor – Eve Streeter for Stabl