Do You Not Trust Me? [Friday Leaders Post]

This has to be one of those niggling thoughts for a leader ~ do you not trust me? (Or maybe it’s just me)

Leadership experts would say that trust is hard won, and easily lost. That to build your trust account is more like a long-distance run than a sprint. I don’t disagree with these sentiments and have learnt a few truths about trust on my journey as a leader…

Trust can be frustrating. You work hard, you centre on the vision, you think about people, you serve others, you get stuff done and yet you still wonder why they don’t seem to trust you. 

That ‘one’ thing may still damage the trust. Maybe that’s the reason. Despite all the good you’ve been doing, that one thing is still enough for the question mark over your head. 

Trust needs to work both ways. Good leaders put their trust in others all the time, or at least they should. It may not be fair to say that because you’re trusting them, they must trust you but then again, trust should work both ways. 

You wouldn’t be where you are if you weren’t to be trusted. You would hope that if you were a serial untrustworthy person you wouldn’t be doing what you do. You’re either a really good fake or you’re doing alright. 

Renew the trust. To those who find it hard to trust a leader – we know we’ve made mistakes and got things wrong, who hasn’t. We’ve taken it on the chin and apologised too. Here’s to you renewing your trust in someone. 

Give your leader the trust that they need to know that you are with them.

How does the trust issue work for you?

Things That Help Build Trust

It has been a continuous discovery over the past 25 years of leadership that all of these layers I have been mentioning are connected. Break one, go without one, decide to have a day off from one and you potentially disconnect them all.

Discretion. Integrity. Attitude. They all add to the level of trustworthiness people feel you bring. There is a simple truth as a leader: if people don’t trust you, they won’t follow you.

I have built up trust with people and then knocked it down myself. I have had golden moments of inspiration that have shown those I lead how valuable they are, followed by moments of absolute stupidity which probably had them wondering if I knew they even existed.

Here are 5 things which can help build that layer of trust:

1. Think before you speak
In a world of immediate connection, a pause before we respond, can be an invaluable tool. Fools rush in. Wait a moment. Think it through. Don’t just say something because you have the right, instead learn to say the right thing

2. Respect those you lead
As leaders we won’t always get the opportunity work with our friends. We have to learn to work with those we don’t know as well, or maybe even struggle to get along with. Learn to respect them. The work they do. The skills they bring. The results they contribute towards. The opinions they may have. The ideas they share. To respect another is our choice. It builds trust. No one wants to follow someone who they feel disrespected by.

3. Understand what’s going on
I have made this mistake before, not really knowing what’s going on with my team or with the project we have responsibility for. Good leaders have their finger on the pulse. Leadership awareness is a necessary skill, not just in respect of your team but also in respect of your own leadership too. Know what’s happening.

4. Secure leadership builds trust
An insecure leader will struggle to gain the trust of others. It can lead to indecision. It can weaken your leadership position. It’s not about faking it but I have learned that I cannot reveal my insecurities to everyone. Have someone you can turn to when it comes to sharing your frustrations. I have found that when I think before I speak, respect those I lead and know what’s going on, I don’t need to feel insecure. I’m being the best leader I can be anyway.

5. Time builds great trusting relationships
25 years of leadership doesn’t come in one year, obviously. Sometimes we are in such a hurry to be liked and believed in that we forget that building trust takes time. After 20 years in my Church I’m hopeful I have enough in the ‘trust bank’ that even if I made a mistake (depending on it’s severity) it wouldn’t be fatal to my leadership. You can’t hide from the fact – trust takes time.

Q: What would you add to help us build our layer of trust?

Are You Consistent?

It is easy to forget this but walking with God is not a choice for one day. It’s a choice to be developed and learned over a lifetime. We have to choose to walk with God and then keep walking with God.

Quick, quick, quick is often our way. Let’s be honest, we live in a fast-paced world and we can easily get caught in the hurry-up mentality that surrounds us. The challenge is that when it comes to God, it probably won’t work. It can be frustrating but I am learning that God is not normally into hurry.

God rewards those whose walk is consistent. Consistency is about a level of performance that does not vary in quality over time. We will have ups and downs in life but our walk with God remains the same, it does not waver, we don’t stop walking because something hasn’t gone the way we hoped it would.

To me consistency speaks of faithfulness and diligence. One step followed by another. Consistency in walking with God increases our credibility, shows off great qualities such as being reliable, dependable and therefore becoming a person deemed trustworthy. These qualities may be considered slightly boring, lacking in pizzazz but I think that to God they are like precious jewels.

Think about it…
When people are inconsistent how does that make us feel?
When people lack the quality of faithfulness how does that impact the relationship?
Who do people go to when they want to learn about the Christian walk? When they want some advice about how to keep trusting in God? 

As we learn to walk with God with consistency and faithfulness, those around us can learn from us and walk with God stronger too.

Abraham was such a man. As those closest to him observed the way he walked with his God, it rubbed off on them. His walk was consistent, faithful which made him someone you wanted to be around, learn from, discover what it was about this God he walked with that was so important to him. When his servant went to find Isaac a wife in Genesis 24, the words ringing in his ears were those of Abraham ’the Lord, before whom I walk, will send His angel with you and prosper your way…’ (v40). I kind of imagine the servant thinking to himself ‘I’ve seen Abraham trust in God and walk with God, so now I am putting my trust in You as he has done for many years.’ He was not disappointed.

Maybe our hearts cry is to see those close to us discover the joy of knowing God. Then this may possibly be a key: if you want to have a life-changing impact on their eternal destination and help them to meet Jesus, consistency and faithfulness in your walk with God will win every time.

Q: How does your walk with God look to others who maybe watching?
Q: Does it lack the consistency that would convince them that God is first in your life?

Book Review: No Perfect People Allowed by John Burke

Some books come across your path at just the right timer and this is definitely one of those books. As someone who holds the role of Service Pastor for Xcel Darlington, how to connect, create growth and love people has taken on a new level of meaning. This book then was very challenging and thought-provoking.

Occasionally you read statements and the simplicity of what you are reading is like ‘WOW’. Taking on board the real-life stories just adds the right dimension, proving a convincing point.

Challenging thoughts: My focus needs to change!
‘Our responsibility is not to make people grow or change. Our task (as Church leaders) is to create the right soil, a rich healthy environment, in which people can grow up in faith…’ ‘God is responsible for the growth, for changed hearts, but the soil is the responsibilty of the leader and Christ-followers who make up the Church.’

To give someone the chance to grow spiritually, they must be given the right food. That’s one of the roles of being their Pastor. That’s a continuous challenge.

To be honest I enjoyed the journey that John Burke took me on through this book – helping to build a picture of what it takes to reach the emerging generation. Building trust, answering the right questions, creating an environment of acceptance and a culture of growth. The chapter on creating a culture of family was read at just the right time, reminding me that life in Church is about people, not about programmes. Being part of the family can help change someones life.

Difficult to express how this book impacted me, except to say ‘Thanks’ to the author for putting pen to paper and being ready to share honestly what it takes to grow a life-changing, hope bringing church in the 21st Century. I would recommend this to Pastors and Church leaders. Get your copy here