This is the third post in our series on building trust. If you would like to start at the beginning, read the first post on communication here.
We all have expectations of ourselves and others and they fall into one or more of the following categories: communication, character, concern, competence, connectedness, and consistency. Trust is built when we prove reliable by meeting others' expectations in these areas.
People tend to have confidence and trust in those who they perceive show authentic concern for them. In Philippians 2, Paul explains how we should imitate Christ in our actions and attitudes, including demonstrating concern for others.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. - Philippians 2:3-4
Christian leaders have the task to manifest concern in three primary places: concern for self, concern for other members of the organization, and concern for the overall health and effectiveness of the organization. Effectively showing concern in all three areas is not easy. By actively pursuing concern and paying closer attention to the following three points, you will be able to build better trust with those around you by showing you genuinely care.
1. Find the balance
Executive compensation in many organizations has resulted in the employee perception that leadership is self-serving and not concerned about them and their needs. Also, the dismissal of someone may be interpreted as a lack of concern for that person even though it was actually important for the health of the organization. As the leader, you need to learn to balance showing concern in all three areas so that you can remain an effective leader, those under you will understand you care, and you can maintain the health of your organization.
2. Tell the truth up front…
In an attempt to either avoid giving negative feedback or to be merciful, Christian organizations sometimes either defer addressing performance problems with their personnel or provide mixed messages regarding their performance. However, when the problems become unbearable or begin to create unacceptable results, leadership sometimes attempts to intervene by either informing the person they will not advance any further in the organization or by dismissing them. By not addressing the issues early on, when the leadership does "suddenly" take action, it can be seen as harsh and unfeeling.
3. …But do it in love
In cases like the one mentioned above, truth is necessary in order to help another person understand their performance is not acceptable. However, the message needs to be delivered with a spirit of love and concern. Christians sometimes think they are manifesting love by not sharing the truth, when in reality, they are only manifesting self-interest by avoiding the hard work of providing truthful feedback to someone. Ephesians 4:15 instructs Christians to “speak the truth in love” defining this as a sign of Christian maturity. To bypass truth in the name of love, or to bypass love in the name of truth, falls short of this instruction and ultimately results in hurt.
Depending on how truth is communicated, the intervention may be perceived by the individual and others as uncaring due to limited previous feedback, hurt feelings, and even the loss of employment. Seldom do people initially view discipline or constructive feedback as a demonstration of genuine concern. However, people are more likely to accept our feedback if they know we care about them.
Do you personally demonstrate concern and care with those around you? How do you know?
Does your organization demonstrate concern and care with your constituents? How do you know?
For more on cultivating trust, read the article "Cultivating Trust in Your Organization" in our book FIT – Improving the Leadership Health of Yourself and Others.
Jay is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.