Leave out one ingredient and the whole recipe falls apart. Some things are just essential. When it comes to leading others, the task is impossible without trust. That’s because trust is at the heart of leadership. If you’re called to lead, you’re called to steward the trust others place in you. Students want to be able to trust their teachers. Spouses want to be able to trust one another. Church members want to be able to trust their pastors. And employees want to be able to trust their managers.
When trust is absent, followers vanish.
As a leader, I certainly hope those I work with trust my competence. I want them to trust that I’ll exercise sound judgment, that I’ll be shrewd and innovative, that I’ll anticipate challenges and opportunities and position our organization for success. And I certainly want that from my wife and children. And I suspect you do, too.
If those we lead doubt our character, it really doesn’t matter what they think of our competence.
But our leadership capacity will be disproportionately limited by a breach of trust in our character. If those we lead doubt our character, it really doesn’t matter what they think of our competence.
So how do we cultivate and strengthen trust? Here are four practical ways.
1. Tell the Truth
Always. You’d think this goes without saying when we talk about distinctly Christian leadership, right? But if we know ourselves, we know how easy it can be to gradually slip into falsehood and all kinds of “shading” of the truth.
Sure, maybe we won’t stare someone in the eye and lie directly (a scary place to be spiritually). But what about telling half the truth or accenting certain things so as to mislead?What if those we work with say, “Well, take what he says with a five-ton grain of salt, because you know how he always spins reality”?
Those you lead—whether at home, work, or church—must be able to bank on you as a truth-teller, with no caveats.
Those you lead—whether at home, work, or church—must be able to bank on you as a truth-teller, with no caveats. Throughout Scripture, God is presented as completely trustworthy. He can be always trusted because he is always truthful. Can others say that about you?
2. Say ‘I’m Sorry’
If you’re going to lead, get used to those two words. You’ll say them often. And that’s because you’ll disappoint people and let them down. It may be a failure of judgment on your part: you thought…