Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
“Job Two: Leaders Build Trust in the Workplace”
[Three Study Resource Abstracts with Notations by Lloyd Elder, Th.D.]
The following three study abstracts present trust, primarily
as it relates to leaders serving in the workplace. That workplace for you
may be the local congregation, or a nonprofit service organization, the public
sector, or the school house; it may include the home place just as well. But
whatever your place of service, “leaders build trust!” That's
what research and common sense tell us. Look for ways you can benefit in your
ministry from these study resources.
A. Study Resource Abstract: Prepared (June 2007)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
“Building Trust in the Workplace:
A Management Briefing”
by Gordon F. Shea (New York, NY: AMA Membership Publications Division, 1984)
“Organizational, as well as personal, success
depends on effective interactions among people . . . The building of realistic
trust, not blind faith, is critical to the high performance that we can expect
from all employees and organizational units.” In this
succinct way, Gordon Shea's working thesis is summarized.
Shea's 72-page monograph, although dated by two decades, reports
a kind of “humanitarian philosophy of management,” of treating
all workers as adults who can be trusted with “privileged” information.
This builds teamwork and commitment and, when needed, engenders a sense of
urgency in the larger task. Shea, as an experienced professional and executive,
has contributed widely his broad-based expertise in corporate, governmental,
and educational fields. His guiding philosophy may be identified with five
signs or traits, not unlike the gentle revolution of Christians in Caesar's
realm. Just so, in today's workplace a quiet revolution seems to include (pp.
Words: They speak honestly, share their
feelings, and talk enthusiastically about win/win outcomes. When resolving
issues, they choose words that are neutral and factually descriptive.
- Deeds: They share information, explain the why of things,
demonstrate concern for people, invite participation, and assert themselves
in ways that do not damage self-esteem.
- Ideas: They have freed themselves from “either-or”
thinking: for example, that either management has to be tough or it will have
to be soft.
- Locations: Committed to lifelong learning, and conscious
of benefits that stem from improving interpersonal and group communication
skills, they appeared wherever practical new skills and ideas are being dispersed--in
classrooms, church meeting rooms, conference centers, or their own living
- Associates: They cluster with healthy, self-confident,
supportive people who are developing all aspects of their bodies, minds, and
personalities. Such groups are open to anyone pursuing similar goals.
Six Ways to Achieve Realistic Trust: The building of realistic
trust, not blind faith, is critical to the high performance expected from all
employees and organizational units. As a trust-building plan, Shea examines
six ways to achieve this trust:
- Trust as a resource (pp. 15-22): Trust, also understood
as “confidence,” “reliance,” and “belief,”
at its core is the felt assurance that things [and people] will operate as
expected. “Trust” should be treated as an asset to be wisely invested,
not to be lost; trust-building is basically "good business."
- Starting with yourself (pp. 23-32): The
process of trust-building begins within ourselves; in the process when trust
is extended to another, trust will grow:
- Pay close attention to your behavior and its effects on others.
- Examine your past for repeated instances and reasons for disappointment
- Become aware of your feelings and the source of the feelings.
- Consider seeking help from others in identifying behavior that prevents
you from trusting others appropriately.
- Talk out your fears and concerns with some person who will listen, not
- If your problem is serious or seems to have a deeper emotional base,
you might want to explore therapeutic techniques.
- Interpersonal trust-building (pp. 33-44): There
are seven sets of behavior that build or destroy interpersonal trust; you
make choices whether you will be negative or positive:
- Evaluative vs. descriptive.
- Controlling vs. problem oriented.
- Using a strategy vs. spontaneous.
- Neutral vs. empathic.
- Superior vs. exhibiting equality.
- Certain vs. provisional.
- Distant vs. helping.
- Supervisor-subordinate-- the key relationship (pp.
45-52): Try these seven guidelines in building a trusting
- Analyze the work; find out what is to be done, how, and why; record and
act on your findings.
- Train your subordinates, your team members for specific task assignments.
- Focus on what gets done; see that your performance moves toward desired
- Avoid using coercive power; delegate work and authority.
- Concentrate on solving the problem; what went wrong, and why?
- Skip the search for who's guilty; who needs to by blamed and punished.
- Support your subordinates and help them to come out winners.
- Measuring trust (pp. 53-61): Raise
the level of trust awareness through audits for individuals and small groups,
focusing on “here and now” situations through a three-step action
- Analysis, by asking the right questions such as: “What
specific things could I do to enhance the level of trust in the organization?”
- Assessment, by separating the things we can affect from
the things we can't and dismissing the latter.
- Agenda, by selecting the items you plan to work on.
6. Working at trust within the organization (pp. 62-72):
Consider trust as a living system or climate to which all contribute.
Consistently practice trust. Discuss differences, understand the other's position,
and establish a “trust agreement,” stating mutual expectations and
calling for accountability.
Note: These techniques are offered as examples on how to build trust. Raise
employee awareness regarding the value of trust in the organization, supply
them the tools, and teach them how to use them.
B. Study Resource Abstract: Prepared (June 2007) by Lloyd Elder,
“Building Trust on the Job,
and In Your Ministry”
from Spirited Leadership: 52 Ways to Build Trust on the Job
by Ellen Castro (Allen, TX: Thomas More, 1998)
Ellen Castro presents in Spirited Leadership a practical
manual based upon truths, values, and principles of trust and integrity within
the context of spiritual human beings. Through thoughtful reflections and applications,
she helps to create change in ourselves and in the world today. She has been
influenced by such prominent leaders as Ken Blanchard, Stephen R. Covey, James
Kouzes, and Barry Posner.
The 52 behaviors are meant as guides for the creation of healthy
growth and trusting relationships. Spirited Leadership, focusing on trust,
pursues five positive outcomes in the presence of God who is with us 24 hours
a day. You could use this valuable book for reflection and application--one
each week for a year. As you reflect on these “on the job” trust
practices and behaviors, be sure you let that include application to your place
of ministry. This abstract selects some for brief review.
- Honors self. Honoring self sets the foundation: you cannot
give to others what you cannot give to yourself. How can you lead others until
you lead yourself? To truly honor others, you must begin by honoring yourself.
- Honors others. A leader honors others because it is the
right thing to do as well as a sound business practice. Do you trust, validate,
and respect others? (p. 42)
- Cherish values. Leaders consciously cherish values and
principles by which they live their lives, integrating these professionally
and personally. Integrity is knowing and living your values. (p. 22)
- Embodies fairness. Fairness is the core of trust, and it
encompasses consistency in behavior; it cannot exist without integrity. (p.
- Acts truthfully and honestly; is forthright, gentle, and
easily accepted; comes from love, not fear. (p. 24)
- Behaves courteously. Common courtesy works miracles on
the job. Lack of appreciation leads to starvation of the spirit. (p. 28)
- Acts with humility. Humility is essential in being perceived
as trustworthy. Humble leaders view themselves as blessed and thus revere
others and their gifts. (p. 36)
- Exudes competence; gives the leader credibility. Understanding
the overall purpose, must have substance and knowledge behind the vision,
the tasks, processes, framework, and collective strengths of others. (p. 26)
- Radiates confidence and a positive attitude; a positive
attitude is grounded in respect and trust. (p. 30)
- Lives the talk. Strong leaders must portray their convictions
and feelings in every action and word. “Example is not the main
thing influencing others. It is the only thing”--Albert Schweitzer.
- Serves. Leaders who serve cultivate trust in the workplace--to
employees, stakeholders, customers, and community. (p. 44)
- Shoots straight. The spirited leader shares information
freely and openly; being candid and truthful instills confidence and collaboration.
- Expects the best in others. Spirited leaders who strive
to do their personal best naturally expect the same of others--such as honesty,
goodness, and capability. (p. 50)
- Listens with ears, eyes, and heart. As a leader, listen:
learn, inspire, share, take time, encourage, and nurture those on the job;
it builds trust. (p. 54)
- Thinks before speaking or acting. The role of such a servant
leader is a privilege, a responsibility, an honor. It leads to well-informed
thoughts, decisions, and actions, and normally in that order. (p. 60)
- Recognizes and affirms. Reinforcement of others takes place
when what gets noticed and rewarded gets done and gets reinforced. (p. 66)
Note: There are many other ways to build trust on the job provided in this
useful book by Castro; check it out.
C. Study Resource Abstract: Prepared (June
2007) by Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
“Trust in the Workplace: Causes
from “Trust in Employee/Employer Relationships:
A Survey of West Michigan Managers”
posted on the Electric Library: Public Personnel Management
A survey was sent to the vice president of Human Resources
of 426 companies employing more than 50 employees in 6 Michigan counties: 143
responded out of 376 received--a significant 38.03% return.
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© 2007 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted by
Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership