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:

  1. 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."
  2. 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
      and failure.
    • 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.
  3. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
    (p. 20)
  • 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.
    (p. 32)
  • 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.
    (p. 46)
  • 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
and Benefits”

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.

  • What is the value of this survey for our study as ministers?
    • We minister to constituents that live most of their waking hours in
      the workplace, such as those surveyed.
    • Substantial knowledge of the workplace could make more effective our
      ministry to people.
    • The significant findings of this survey have many valuable applications
      to the Christian ministry. Make your own assessment.
  • Summary of survey results:
    1. Trust is the essential ingredient, the core of all human relationships.
      It holds people together and gives them a feeling of security. Trust is
      a fragile thing; it is generally earned and grows at a painfully slow
      pace; but it can be destroyed in an instant.
    2. Respondents view trust as a belief in the integrity, character, and
      ability of others (93.5%); followed by the perception that trust is a
      feeling of confidence and support shown (91.2%).
    3. Four major factors breed trust or determine trust: (1) open communication
      (96.4%); (2) greater share in decision-making (90.4%); (3) sharing critical
      information (87.5%); and (4) true sharing of perceptions and feelings
    4. Leadership is primarily responsible for building trust; it “trickles
      down” into the whole organization.
    5. Six main advantages of trust are strongly supported: (1) improved communication;
      (2) greater predictability, dependability, and confidence; (3) a reduction
      of turnover; (4) openness, willingness to accept criticism non-defensively;
      (5) repeat business; and (6) reduction of friction.
    6. The primary disadvantage of building a climate of trust is the fear
      of losing managerial authority.
    7. An organization’s ineffectiveness is largely the result of distrust;
      and, a climate of trust (1) leads to more trust (96.3%); (2) brings credibility
      (96.2%); and (3) leads to effective decisions (91.8%).
    8. Trust is not a function of any one popular style of leadership/management;
      but there is a reciprocal relationship between communication and trust.
    9. A basic formula for Good/Lasting Relationships is GR=TXCXP. Good Relationships
      = Trust x Open Communications x Perception (of true feelings). If any
      one of the three factors is missing, the true result is zero (1x1x0=0).

    For Reflection, Assessment, Application:
    What are the major values of this survey to Christian ministers?

      • To increase your understanding of the workplace of your members.
      • To understand how your members may want to function within the congregation.
      • To provide clues toward a congregational strategy for trust-building.

    (Source: partially adapted from SkillTrack®
    Volume 7.2: Trust-Building: The Leadership Essential

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© 2007; hosted and copyrighted by
Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership