Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
“Job Three: Leaders Consistently Practice Trust” (SL#86)
[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:


A. Study Resource Abstract: Prepared (June 2007) by Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
“Credibility: The Foundation of Leadership”
from CREDIBILITY--How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It
by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Pub., 1993)

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)

2. Four Critical Attributes. A nationwide 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. 275-287; 12-26)
3. Trust and Building Credibility: Of all 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)
4. Six disciplines of credibility: Kouzes 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:

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 Elder, Th.D.
"Trust in a Leadership Triad with Knowledge and Power"
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 chapters:

  1. Trust and the Decision Process (pp. 89-105)
  1. Determinants of Trust (pp. 106-121)
  1. 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.”


C. Study Resource Abstract: Prepared (June 2007) by Lloyd Elder, Th.D
“Trust According to Stephen R. Covey”
from Principle-Centered Leadership
by Stephen R. Covey (New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc./Fireside Edition, 1992)

“Trust” has a unique and central role inside Stephen Covey's Principle-Centered Leadership. Although “trust” is not in the book title, it permeates the thesis and all four levels or principles for life and leadership.

This abstract intends primarily to show how trust is integral to so many of his leadership and life concepts. A working thesis affirms: “Trust--or the lack of it--is at the root of success or failure in relationship and in the bottom-line results of business, industry, education, and government.” (p. 31)

  1. Covey's Principle Thesis
    Principle-centered leadership is a new paradigm, a shift in focusing not just on another map, but on a new moral compass. With universal principles at the center, “leaders can expect to transform their organizations and their people by communicating vision, clarifying purposes, making behavior congruent with belief, and aligning procedures with principles, roles, and goals.” Covey endorses the idea, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” (p. 69) Even his book cover conveys this in the saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
  2. Trust: Principles and Behavior
    Principles are proven, enduring guidelines for effective human conduct. There are universal “true north” principles taught by the six major religions as well as found in a global consensus: “walk your talk”; “you reap what you sow”; “actions are more important than words.” Under the topic of moral compassing, Covey reports a universal belief in fairness, kindness, dignity, charity, integrity, honesty, quality service, and patience. (pp. 94-95)

      [For those of us within the Christian faith, relationship to Christ and the guidance of Holy Scripture form a foundation for principled living and leadership.--Lloyd Elder]

In addition to his four levels/principles, Covey also deals extensively with attitudes, skills, and strategies for creating and maintaining trustful relationships with other people. (pp. 29-30)

  1. Four Levels, Four Principles (pp. 28-30)
    Covey presents his principle philosophy in a graphic of four concentric circles, starting at the very center:
Added to principles, he also deals with attitudes, skills, and strategies for creating and maintaining trustful relationships with other people. (pp. 29-30) Continuous improvement is needed at all four levels; neglect of one will have a negative impact on the other three.
  1. Trust and Empowerment
    A closing concept from Covey: you can't have empowerment without first having trust. If you don't trust people you are working with, then you must use control rather than empowerment. Aligned organizations serve to help the individual be productive and effective. (p. 65) The high-trust culture in which win-win can succeed is created by people of integrity, maturity, and “abundance mentality.” (p. 215)

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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