Leading Change Requires Building Trust

Developing trust takes time, effort and intentionality. You have to be conscious of the fact that you are working on building trust with the people you are leading. Do not expect to be trusted simply because of your title, power, authority, or job description. Trust is something you must earn from the people you lead.

I recall the time when my wife and I were asked to co-pastor in Trinidad in the fall of 1990. We went to a people who knew of us but did not know us well enough to immediately trust us. We had to earn the trust of those we were called to lead.

We went to that church with various ideas on how to help the church grow and work as the people of God in the community. But we also knew that if we were going to help the church grow, we would first need to earn the trust of the people in the church.

So, instead of moving ahead with our ideas of change, as most new leaders tend to do, we spent the first year getting to know the people and seeking to understand their context and culture without making any major changes.

We listened, visited people in their homes, and asked lots of questions. We were learning about the people, and the context and culture in which they lived and served the Lord. Most importantly, we were gaining their trust.

After the first year, we initiated some changes to move the church in the direction we believed God wanted us to take. What we found was that because we had spent time listening and earning the trust of the people, they were willing to work with us. We were blessed with five and half years of fruitful ministry in that church.

Here are some lessons we’ve learned about the trust factor in leadership.

  1. Trust is not something that simply comes with a leadership position. People don’t automatically trust you because of your title, power or position. Trust is earned.
  2. People don’t trust you until they know you genuinely care about them. Listen, ask questions, and listen again. This will go a long way toward demonstrating that you really do care about them and want the best for them and the organization.
  3. Although most of the people may come to trust you, there will always be those who will not. We found this was a good thing because those who did not trust us helped to keep us honest. They were the ones who would challenge our ideas and make all of us take a closer look at what we were doing. Do not distance or disengage those who do not trust. They help keep you from taking things for granted.
  4. First work to earn the trust of those you have to work with most closely to get things done. Earning the trust of the board and department leaders was essential and instrumental in helping the larger congregation gain confidence in us.
  5. Implementing effective change requires trust. Change generally means moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Most people will resist moving into unfamiliar territory if they do not trust their leader(s). Before asking people to change, you should first get them to buy into why they need to change.
  6. Delaying changes to earn trust is a much faster way to bring about change because when people trust you, they are more likely to embrace the change.

The trust factor in leadership is key to implementing changes. People generally will embrace changes if you first earn their trust. I have known too many leaders with great ideas for change who could not implement them and eventually had to leave the organization because they failed to first earn the trust of those they were leading.

Are you meeting resistance to your leadership in general or in implementing changes in particular? Perhaps you first need to address the trust factor in your leadership.

If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at errol@errolcarrim.com to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.