Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
“Job Two: Leaders Build Trust in the Workplace” (SL#85)
[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. i-iv):

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:
  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:
  1. Supervisor-subordinate-- the key relationship (pp. 45-52): Try these seven guidelines in building a trusting relationship:
  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 plan:

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, Th.D.
“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.

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.

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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