The Strategic Importance of Trust & How to Build It

January 7, 2019

In the December Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “The Strategic Importance of Trust & How to Build It.”

As a reminder, our next Leadership Breakfast will be at the Kalamazoo Country Club on January 18, 2019 featuring Michelle Mei, Chief Talent Officer at Momentum Development Group. Michelle will be speaking on the topic of “Effective Talent Planning is a Necessity in Building a Great Team.” Click here to save your seat!

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Below are the notes from the December Round Table meetings.

Plymouth Round Table

Q1: What are the characteristics that you value in a trusting relationship?

Truthfulness, Ethical/Moral Consistency, Open-Mindedness/Acceptance, Impartiality, Engagement/Support, Reliability/Loyalty.

Steadfast commitment by all parties to each other, regardless of the situation.

Commitment to amicable follow-thru/closure of relationship issues (lack of closure = anxiety in the relationship).

Q2: Does everyone view/define trust the same way?  Can it vary depending on the circumstance?

Trust is defined by the complex set of expectations that we have for a person or parties and can be very fluid.  We may trust someone in some ways, but not others, depending on how their capabilities and values meet your expectations.

Q3: How are trust and integrity synonymous?  What methods do you use to build trust in your relationships?

Trust and integrity are similar, but are not the same.  Integrity is defined as one’s reliable adherence to their ethical/moral principles.  Said another way, integrity is the knowledge that one will always do the right thing when no one is watching.  Trust, on the other hand, is sometimes a blind or forced condition based on circumstance.  We are often forced to trust someone or something because we do not have a choice.

Integrity builds/strengthens trust.  If we’re dealing with a person of integrity, we’re much more comfortable trusting them and this trust becomes stronger over time.

Various methods of building trust:

  • Taking a team approach to solving issues, vs. a dictatorial approach, fosters greater trust.
  • Being a consistent leader of integrity builds trust.
  • Ignoring politics in the pursuit of truth builds trust.
  • Demonstrate grace and forgiveness to our fellow man, as God does to us.

Q4: How long does it take to build a trusting relationship?  How long to destroy it?

As stated above, trust is sometimes forced by circumstance, which is a weak trust.  A strong trust can only be built over time.  Conversely, a trusting relationship can be destroyed almost instantly in the right circumstance.  However, if we are committed to maintaining a relationship and are willing to exhibit grace to others, a relationship can usually be saved and the trust rebuilt over time.

The following example was shared by one of the attendees:

The previous owners of a recently sold company had been using the same accounting firm for many years, with no apparent problems.  The new owner of this company was having trouble getting timely responses out of this firm, but wanted to continue using this firm for various reasons, if this issue could be corrected.  The new owner decided to give the accounting firm a second chance and met with the owner of the firm.  He was assured that this issue would be resolved by the firm owner, who wanted to be copied on all correspondence.  The relationship endured, but the same issues continued or got worse.  There was no explanation for the lack of improvement from the accounting firm owner, despite his being directly involved.  After the broken promises and apparent lack of concern by the accounting firm (and its owner), the good-faith trust displayed by the customer was destroyed and will result in the loss of future business to the accounting firm.

Q5: How does a lack of trust affect our personal and professional success?  The success of our church and country?

Without trust, progress/success is impeded because we feel that must protect ourselves.  Whether it is in our personal, church, or professional lives we simply cannot be as successful because of this distraction.

The current political climate within our great nation is a perfect example of how the lack of trust can stifle progress.  Our two major political parties seem willing to do anything to hinder or disgrace each other, at the expense of doing what is often obviously best for the country.  They do not trust each other and seem to often not trust even people within their own party.  Most people do not trust the news media to even fairly communicate the truth.  This total lack of trust breeds gridlock and eventually apathy, which severely limits our progress as a nation.

Q6: If a trusting relationship gets damaged, how do you repair it?  Is the repair process only one-sided?

Open/honest communication is crucial to creating, maintaining, and repairing a trusting relationship.  Depending on the circumstances, both sides may need to work to repair a damaged trust.  God wants us to forgive our fellow man through grace, as he forgives us for our sins.

Q7: What relationships need rebuilding or improving in our lives?

One attendee discussed their new neighbors, who seemingly want to avoid neighborly contact, to the extent that they don’t know their names and have never spoken to them (after several months).  They have repeatedly avoided friendly efforts to meet/speak, such as an invitation to the annual neighbor Christmas party and chance outdoor encounters.  Perhaps they are just extremely shy, or some other embarrassing circumstances are driving their actions.  Whatever the reason/s for their avoidance, they need to be given the benefit of the doubt until God places another opportunity to communicate and develop a trusting relationship.

Bible Verses Regarding Trust:

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”  Psalm 91:1-2

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  James 1:6 

Additional Takeaways for today:

Most humans are suspicious by nature, but want to trust each other.  The times that trusts are broken only promote this suspicion, supporting the policy of President Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify”.  The only person in history worthy of complete trust was Jesus Christ.

Because a strong trust can only be built over time (but quickly destroyed), the integrity of an individual, team, or nation are crucial to establishing and maintaining a strong trust.

The toxic atmosphere of distrust currently existing in our nation is a serious danger to us all.  The blatant lack of ethical behavior by many in government (and most of the news media) has destroyed most of the trust that may have existed toward them.  It is important that we fight this trend or we will suffer negative long-term consequences at the hands of our foes.  In the words of Founding Father John Dickinson, “United We Stand Divided We Fall.”

Birmingham Round Table

Q1: Why is trust needed?

  • Create confidence, courage, competency, delegation
  • Trust yourself, trust others – you can give freely and not hold back
  • Speed, accelerate

Q2: How do you create trust?

  • Extend it first, measure, affirm it, do your own.
  • Rotary
    • Honest
    • Fair
    • Loyal
    • Giving
    • Goodwill
    • Benefit to all

Q3: What happens with high trust relationships?

  • Sped, accuracy, confidence, innovation
  • Understand Frame of Reference
  • Personally responsible

Q4: What examples do you recall from low trust relationships?

  • GM, Lopez, Supply chain, Government

Takeaways for today:

  • Frame of reference
  • Extend trust first
  • Foundation

Kalamazoo Round Table (Tuesday)


  • The heart of business is people.
  • Trust is foundational to our success regardless of our department/industry.
  • We need trust to work well together and compete in our industry.
  • It is tough balancing our focus between customers and staff.
  • There’s risk involved in trusting people.
  • Trust can be broken in two different ways when we or our team members are not honest:
    • Integrity: Failure to follow through.
    • Competency: The inability to follow through.
  • It takes courage to admit our shortcomings and build trust.
  • Sometimes there will be failure. Building that trust between us and our employees will encourage them to be honest when they have made a mistake.


  • Everyone wants to trust and be trusted.
  • How do we become trustworthy? Through honesty and consistent follow through.
  • There are two types of trust:
    • Common trust
    • Vulnerability trust – Asking for help, accountability without fear.
  • Book: “5 Disfunctions of a Team.”
  • Book: “The Speed of Trust.”
  • Trust gives you the ability to do things quickly. It eliminates time spent in supervising and streamlines the operation.
  • We used to think the customer was most important, but our staff are actually the most important because they will be the ones taking care of our customers.
  • Remember that people are always watching. We must set the standard by “going first.”
  • It all starts with God – He always follows through.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)


  • What is the standard for a trusting relationship?
  • Does “Strategic” mean disingenuous?
  • Lack of self-awareness – What if a leader thinks he’s great at building trust, but is not?
  • Two types of trust: Character vs. Competency.
    • Character: Will you follow through?
    • Competency: Are you able to follow through?


  • 2 Priorities to build trust:
    • Be honest
    • Be vulnerable
  • Strategic trust should be innate/genuine.
  • Always be honest in order to build trust through consistency.
  • Practice Empathetic Listening:
    • Empty yourself when listening to someone. Be present and stay away from your work.
  •  Staffing HR:
    • Need Internal and External assistance.
    • Utilize HR while also considering outside consultants for fresh eyes.
    • Send your HR team to conferences/workshops outside of the company
  •  Generational divides:
    • Remember that all people are the same at their core, but their behavior manifests differently.
    • Figure out your employees preferred communication method.
  • Use employee engagement surveys.
    • Be sure to address any negative feedback. Do not simply explain it away.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)


  • What is trust?
    • A shared understanding on something / a scenario
    • Showing genuine care
    • Sharing interests
    • Supportive
    • Mutual respect for each other
    • Trust doesn’t grow overnight
    • It takes patience and grit
    • It’s the foundation for everything
    • It takes a lot of time
    • It’s not given, it’s earned by consistently doing what you say you’re going to do
    • Having confidence in someone
    • Putting time and effort into it – it takes discipline
    • Our ethics fade when we’re under stress/pressure
  • We live in a disposable world where we’ll throw people out if they break trust


  • We need to become intentional about building trust and to make a concerted effort to keep it top of mind
  • Value others above yourself
  • Dial in on each individual – care about them more than yourself
  • We need to be more vulnerable
  • Cast a vision demonstrating trust – consistently doing what we say we’re going to do – continually do and show
  • Notice your people and explain that you trust them
    • Tool to give feedback:
      • When something is off, remind them that you trust them and that lately your behaviors/actions have not aligned with that trust then ask what’s going on and if they are OK.
      • Show you care in grace and truth.
      • Is there anything you can do to help?


  • We have to put in the effort first and to “extend the olive branch”
  • We want to get to the next level of trust: trustworthiness (most genuine)
  • It starts with doing the right thing and then showing why we’re doing it
  • We have to allow failure and follow through with consequences
  • Trust is built in training, not while you’re “in the fox hole” / “under fire”
  • Trust means having a shared understanding of a component or scenario and that we support one another and choose to move forward together
  • It’s all about building trust
  • More power = more responsibility
  • It’s a faith journey – need to trust in God no matter how hard it gets and show trustworthiness and that it’s for the right reasons
  • Celebrate trustworthiness with others and show your appreciation towards it – think about somebody you trust and thank them/acknowledge them

Join us for our January Round Tables as we discuss “Lessons Learned When Trust Is Broken & What It Takes To Rebuild.” RSVP to