Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
“Job Three: Leaders Consistently Practice
[Three Study Resource Abstracts with Notations by Lloyd Elder, Th.D.]
Doesn’t “Job Three” infer that there is something
that goes before? Yes it does. We have already described “Job One”
as the practice of building trust within; and, “Job Two” as building
trust with others. Now, the focus of “Job Three” is that leaders
make the most significant contribution to their organizations when they understand
and consistently practice trust in their lives, leadership, and organizations.
This has been demonstrated and reported through research over time and space,
in high and low places.
What about servant leaders in Christian congregations of every
size and makeup? Let me suggest some applications to claim the attention of
those of us seeking to be trustworthy, or faithful, in the biblical language–in
the service of Christ:
The congregational leader developing trust within does not,
and should not, arbitrarily separate that from the building and practicing
trust in the church place.
- In the congregation, just as much as in other organizations, trust should
be the penetrating environment for leaders and members alike.
- Trust is a relationship, a process, a system, an environment that needs
the intentional and knowledgeable care of leaders within the congregation.
- Kouzes and Posner, focusing on “credibility,” have in fact built
a research case for leadership trust, the way to gain it, the cost of losing
it, and the persistent demand of people for leaders to deliver. Can we give
less focus on this in ministry leadership?
- Zand serves our understanding of “trust” by treating it in the
same context as he does “power”; the use of power has become a
large issue for those serving in ministry positions.
- Covey demonstrates how trust penetrates every element of leadership: the
person, relationships, the tasks being done and the nature of the organization.
- Ask your own questions, make your observations, and apply these to the practice
of trust. I have drawn from these and other resources in developing specific
guidelines for trust-building.
A. Study Resource Abstract: Prepared (June
2007) by Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
“Credibility: The Foundation
from CREDIBILITY–How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why
People Demand It
by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pub.,
1. Introductions: The research by these two
acclaimed authorities reported in this book reflects more than a dozen years
of work including national surveys, international case studies, in-depth interview,
and extensive analysis. Look for the lessons and applications for your interpersonal
leadership as a Christian minister. (pp. xx-xxii)
Thesis: “Leadership is a relationship.”
Leadership is a reciprocal relationship between those who choose to lead
and those who decide to follow. (p. 1)
- Credibility is about how leaders earn the trust and
confidence of their constituents. The credibility foundation is built
brick by brick, over time–it does not come with the job. Leaders and
constituents alike must “grab our picks and shovels and work to
repair our interpersonal infrastructure.” (p. xvii and p. 2)
- Constituents: The two most consistently top concerns
of executives are improving product quality and enhancing customer service.
Constituents decide what is superior product and service; they also determine
if the executive has the credibility meriting conference of leadership
authority. (pp. xviii-xix) “Until we all, constituents and leaders
alike, grab our picks and shovels and work to repair our interpersonal
infrastructure, style will continue to succeed over substance, and technique
will continue to triumph over truth.” (p. 2)
- “Credibility” and “credit” share the same root
origin, credo, meaning “I believe,” or “I trust.”
Do you believe the vision? Do you make the promise? Can you keep your
word? (p. 13)
survey of 1500 managers produced 225 characteristics and attitudes believed
to be crucial to leadership, of which 3 were far beyond all others: (1) integrity–leaders
are truthful, are trustworthy, have character, have conviction; (2) competence–leaders
are capable, productive, efficient; (3) leadership–leaders are inspiring,
are decisive, provide direction. In two nationwide surveys (1987 and 1993)
of what people most admired in leaders, four crucial attributes stood out:
(1) honesty, (2) forward-looking, (3) inspiring, and (4) competency. (pp.
- Honesty is absolutely essential to leadership–that
a leader worthy of trust will be truthful and ethical.
- Forward-looking: people expect leaders to have a sense
of direction and concern for the future; to set the vision and call for
others to follow.
- Inspiring: people admire and respect leaders who are
dynamic, uplifting, enthusiastic, positive, and optimistic–and who communicate
- Competence: we want to follow those who are capable
and effective, able to get the job done.
the attributes of credibility, there is one that is of greatest importance–being
seen as someone who can be trusted, who has high integrity, and who is honest
and truthful. The credibility check essentially is the question: “Do
I trust this person?” (p. 24)
- Credibility is mostly about consistency between words and deeds: “They
do what they say they will do; they practice what they preach; they walk
- Leadership credibility is crucial–DWWSWWD— “Do
what we say we will do.” (p. 47)
- The credibility-building process includes: (see pp. 49-52)
- clarity: clarification of the leader’s and
the constituent’s needs, interests, values, visions, aims, and
aspirations. “I have a clear idea about . . .”
- unity: people in an organization must be united
in a common cause–a community of shared vision, values, direction,
and principles for the journey.
- intensity: actions speak louder than words, so
people act on the values of the organization; resources are allocated
to succeed; there is a greater consistency between word and action–they
“keep the faith.”
- clarity: clarification of the leader’s and
and Posner developed extensively their research and analysis into six practices
or disciplines of credibility; they are expounded and illustrated in six chapters,
but summarized in pp. 50-57:
Discovering your self. Who are you? What
do you believe in: What do you stand for?
Appreciating constituents. You must also
develop a deep understanding of the collective values and desires of your
Affirming shared values. Credible leaders
honor the diversity of their many constituencies. They also find a common
ground for agreement on which everyone can stand.
Developing capacity. It is essential
for leaders to develop continuously the capacity of their members to keep
Serving a purpose. They are servant leaders–not
self-serving, but other-serving. Credible leaders are the first to do
what has been agreed to and learned.
Sustaining hope. Credible leaders keep
hope alive. People need more energy and enthusiasm, more inspiration and
optimism; they have higher aspirations; are also available as a support
and as a friend; are compassionate; recognize and reward people; to sustain
hope, be there for the team in times of need.
Reflection: Make your own application of these findings
to specific areas of your ministry. “What people want in a leader
is someone who is trustworthy, is competent, has a vision for the future, and
is dynamic and inspiring.” But they are increasingly cynical because
their leaders do not live up to these expectations. (p. 47)
(Source: adapted in part from SkillTrack®
Volume 7: Interpersonal Skills: Leading with your Heart)
B. Study Resource Abstract: Prepared (June 2007) by Lloyd
"Trust in a Leadership Triad with Knowledge
from The Leadership Triad: Knowledge, Trust, and Power (pp. 87-134)
by Dale E. Zand. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997)
“The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust
him, and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him and show
your distrust.”–Henry Stimson.
Dale Zand, introducing his leadership triad of knowledge, trust,
and power, acknowledges that each of the three has its place in the practice
of leadership. Beginning his presentation of trust with the above quotation,
Zand provides theoretical and practical treatment of three trust topics in three
- Trust and the Decision Process
- Determinants of Trust
- Laws of Trust
- Trust and the Decision Process (pp. 89-105)
- Trust affects both how leaders make decisions and the quality of their
decisions. Trust enriches relationships–fostering cooperation, creativity,
and commitment. Mistrust weakens relationships, bringing to them suspicion
- Leaders distill their attitudes and impressions into one powerful belief:
how much they can trust other people.
- Trust should not be confused with affection; they are not the same. You
may have affection for but not trust a person.
- Trust defined: “Trust consists of a willingness to increase
your vulnerability to another person whose behavior you cannot control,
in a situation in which your potential benefit is much less than your potential
loss if the other person abuses your vulnerability.” (p. 91)
- Elements of trust: Leaders express trust, or mistrust,
through three elements of behavior: how they disclose information, share
influence, and exercise control.
- A special model of trust–the trust cycle describes how
two trusting people work together constructively.
- When the leader trusts, here is what happens:
- The leader reveals information, accepts influence, and minimally controls;
- The other person expects trust and perceives trust;.
- That person also reveals information, accepts influence, and minimally
- The leader perceives trust and confirms expectations.
The trust process, unfortunately, can operate destructively
when two people mistrust each other.
The effects of trust: Trust frees people
to be open, lifting relationships to new heights of achievements; however,
mistrust shrivels people.
- Mistrust creates social uncertainty and complicates decision making.
- Trust reduces social uncertainty and contributes to creativity, goals,
Awareness of trust: Based on extended research,
The Conrad Study shows that high-trust groups are more
likely than low-trust groups to communicate relevant ideas and feelings,
and to have greater motivation to implement decisions.
- Determinants of Trust (pp. 106-121)
- Durable factors of trust. Personality and training are
so much a part of us that people have difficulty understanding the connection.
- Personality, rooted in early experiences, influences,
and attitudes, is an underlying factor that inclines a leader to be trusting
- Training determines trust and mistrust. It is important
that leaders understand how their particular training has oriented them
with regard to trust or mistrust (such as attorneys, scientists). Lee Iacocca
was comfortable with trusting; Harold Geneen was not.
- Accessible factors–Trust depends on several factors
in addition to personality and training, including:
- Competence is a beginning, critical component of
trust, but not that alone. People are willing to trust competent leaders,
but trust is task-specific.
- Openness is a gateway to trust, enabling giving and
getting rapid and direct disclosure of relevant information.
- Supportiveness also affects trust. Effective leaders
understand and employ three components of supportiveness that build
trust: acceptance, tolerance for disagreement, and constructive use
of people’s openness. People trust leaders who accept them as they are.
- Reward systems. Effective leaders understand that
a company’s reward system can encourage trust or mistrust. A collaborative,
integrative, win-win reward system encourages trust.
- Intentions. People’s beliefs about a leader’s intention
have a powerful influence on trust; people trust leaders whom they believe
have good intentions.
- Competence is a beginning, critical component of
- Laws of Trust (pp. 122-134)
There are regularities, or reliable predictions, in the trust systems that
we call laws of trust; a particular outcome is likely if leaders do not
change the level of trust. Briefly stated, the “laws of trust.”
Mistrust drives out trust; does not reciprocate
acts of trust from others.
Trust increases cohesion: holds people
together; means that people have confidence that they can rely on each other.
Mistrusting groups self-destruct: as a corollary, when
members mistrust each other, they repel and separate, turn against each
other, pursue their own interests.
- Trust stimulates productivity; it gives people confidence
that they can depend on each other to define and achieve appropriate goals;
also encourages people to think of productivity with satisfaction and joy.
- Mistrust depresses productivity: people who mistrust
do not believe they can depend on each other; they conceal and secretly
pursue their own interests; obstruct creativity; distort information, interpretations,
and decision making.
- Rapid growth masks mistrust: as sales and profits increase,
leaders seek expedient solutions, misshape relationships, and encourage
- Increasing trust: effective leaders deal with a paradox–minimal
trust in order to improve trustability.
- Through integrated reward systems.
- Through reciprocal increases in trust.
- Through relationship analysis; reviewing how they can increase trust.