Creative Leadership

When Teams Can’t Trust Their Leaders

There have been plenty of stories recently about pastors and other ministry leaders failing or falling from grace. This isn’t one of those stories. This post is about pastors and leaders with teams who don’t trust them to keep their word. Keep in mind, these aren’t bad people, and I’m not talking about outright liars. I’m talking about leaders who’ve spent so many years changing their mind, making rash decisions, or back peddling, their closest friends and employees can’t trust their decisions anymore.

It happens for a number of reasons:

1) They may be people pleasers and say what people want to hear – even though they have no intention of following through.

2) They make impulse decisions, and later realize what they said wasn’t smart.

3) They make decisions without getting good advice, and have to back pedal later.

4) They get caught up in the emotion of the moment, and make decisions and public statements they later regret. 

Ministry consultant and blogger Tony Morgan says: “We need to make sure we deliver on our word. If we can’t or don’t plan to follow through, we shouldn’t say it. The problem is that leaders are people pleasers. We’re afraid to tell the truth if the truth might cause someone to dislike us. In the long run, though, I’d much rather deal with dislike than foster distrust.”

One of the most insightful leadership experts in the church today is Dr. Sam Chand. He’s written an excellent book called “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code.” Get the book. Any leader can find an enormous amount of information in that book about trust and how to create a powerful organizational culture. Sam says:

A. Everything rises and falls on trust.
B. Trust is the currency of human interaction.
C. Trust happens daily between people and organizations at all levels.
D. Poor behavior by many leaders in all sectors of life has created a general culture of mistrust.

Here’s the bottom line: Your decisions matter because they provide the foundation for how your team performs. If your word can’t be counted on, chaos happens because your team has lost their compass.

Stop making decisions based on emotion, impulse, or anything other that the right information, serious reflection, experience, prayer, and advice. Make decisions that can be counted on today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

I can guarantee your team will thank you, and the results will be astonishing.

Related Articles


  1. Thanks for the thought-provoking post Phil. And also the book suggestion. I blew this big time as a young pastor (without a staff). I want to make sure it doesn’t happen now.

  2. Dr. Sam Chand’s book is excellent. When teams can’t trust their leader, moral sinks in the shifting sands- this is one place where a toxic culture begins to breed.
    I have worked with leaders who consistently practiced allowing their emotions to drive important decisions; the staff didn’t respect the leaders as a result. Good leaders do what they say, and say what they mean.
    The leader who makes decisions without getting good advice first, and then back peddles, scores no points in confidence from the team. What’s worse is the leader who doesn’t back peddle on the bad decision and the team has to work with the bad decision and make it look good- indefinitely. I had felt at times like that was what the team was hired for in part …. damage control of bad leadership.
    Valuable info here. Thanks for posting this!

  3. I would like to hear the other side as well. I recently heard the term “Trust Deficit” When team members perceive that they are being lied to (Perhaps it is really it is the boss changing their mind, making rash decisions, or back peddling) and now they don’t want to act on information that they think is not true. I also heard from a labor lawyer that it is not considered insubordination if your actions or in-actions are guided by your uncertainty that the boss it telling the truth.

      1. Leaders need to remember the lessons in the “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. I have seen team members not know what to believe from the boss and then they act in their own interest while looking for another job.

        I have worked for a couple of Larry Tate types and their opinions would turn on a dime to appease a client in an attempt to land a deal. I often think leaders should also reread “The Emperor’s New Clothes” because I often see the leader walking around naked and he is surrounded by Yes Men saying, “Nice Suit”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button
IS IT TIME TO CHANGE YOUR MINISTRY OR NONPROFIT’S NAME? Enter your email and get the free download “7 Signs It May Be Time to Change Your Name” now!
Thanks for signing up. Please check your email for a download link.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker