“Trust is almost always needed when leaders are accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations”—Leadership Challenge
“Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters”—Proverbs 25.13 NIV
In large complex organizations trust makes cooperation and effectiveness possible. An environment of trust fosters the opportunity of creativity, innovation, teamwork, and synergy. When fear and suspicion poison the environment, the organization has a tendency to divide up in small tribes and clusters; the individual feels isolated, and teamwork becomes increasingly difficult. Suspicion undermines creativity and risk-taking because those on the edge fear that no one has their back, and that limited success or networks of highly placed people are their only protection.
For the Baptist General Convention of Texas to fulfill its Kingdom assignment trust must become the norm for all of our relationships. In recent years due to scandals and struggles within the family, our trust between each other has been injured, but it is far from dead. I believe we can experience a rebirth of trust in the coming years by simply going back to the basics of good, healthy relationships.
Leaders, both professional and positional, must work to reestablish trust . There are leaders among us who have titles and job descriptions describing their roles within the family, and there are other leaders whose influence far outweighs any title or lack of title. Our leaders at every level must begin by setting the example of trust in their words and actions.
In the book Leadership Challenge the authors make this observation about the role of leaders in building trust:
“Leaders must demonstrate their willingness to trust the members of their teams first, before the team members can wholeheartedly put their fate into the leader’s hands.”
In other words leaders go first. People trust us when we trust them. People trust us when we listen to them and take their concerns and ideas seriously. People trust us when we demonstrate our confidence in their integrity. People trust us when we keep our promises and commitments, when we admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness, and when we protect the reputation of those not in the room.
Kouzes and Posner in The Leadership Challenge give these practical suggestions on how to establish a culture of trust:
1. Always say we.
2. Create interactions
3. Create a climate of trust
4. Focus on gains, not losses, focus on opportunities, not problems, and create winners, not losers.
5. Involve people in planning and problem solving.
6. Be a risk taker when it comes to trusting others.
This week I received a long distance telephone from a former officer of our convention who called to congratulate me on my election as president. In the course of the conversation he acknowledged that he had not voted for me. However, he called to encourage me and to get to know me. In the course of the conversation we were able to share about our hopes and dreams for the convention. We spoke of some of our concerns. At the end of the conversation, I sensed I had a new found friend and comrade in the struggle to help us move forward. Some who know us from a distance might suggest we are on opposite sides of our current struggles, but it became quite clear in reality we were pulling together in the same direction. A simple telephone call or face to face conversation can go a long way toward helping us to learn to trust each other and work together.