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What does authentic trust look like in our workplaces?


Trust should be integral to the framing of our spiritual, professional and personal lives as many elements of trust are intertwined in the way we behave in these three aspects. At the Agora meeting in April 2017 Dr McCulla and Dr Marks spoke on recent international research, the peculiar findings from Australia and the implications for our varying Christian school contexts.  Consider these questions as you reflect on this article - how does your workplace truly show a Christian point-of-difference with trust? How could this be improved or developed to grow the school community?


In ‘The Speed of Trust’, Stephen Covey describes trust in basic terms:

Simply put, trust means confidence.  The opposite of trust –distrust – is suspicion.  When you trust people, you have confidence in them – in their integrity and their abilities.  When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them – of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record.  It’s that simple.’ (Covey & Merrill, 2006).


The feeling one has towards a colleague - both their capability and reliability - influence our trust-meters as does their past and present track record.


The following three elements, based on Covey's ‘The Speed of Trust',  are referenced in ‘Building Trust in Organisations:  Your Toolkit for Increasing Trust and Productivity’ by Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI), a consulting and leadership development firm dedicated to helping Christian leaders and organisations achieve their full potential by creating flourishing staff cultures (BCWI, 2016). Our Christian workplaces must be embedding and modelling these points of difference, whilst also valuing the relevant premises of some secular writing.


1. Promises and good intentions are not enough; trust requires competent performance that fulfils expectations

Whilst Stephen Covey writes about business workplaces, these three elements can be viewed from a school or school system workplace. Covey gives three ideas on how to improve results and develop trust through actions:

  • Shift focus from “doing activities” to “achieving results”  

  • Expect success

  • Develop the strength and stamina to finish strong


2. There must be consistent integrity

Lining up actions and words with consistent honesty in behaviour will inspire trust, including taking initiative and owning those that do not work. Transparency of communication is also essential in behaving with integrity. This includes keeping staff informed (where possible), two-way communication and collecting ideas and feedback so there is a channel for expression of opinion and action on suggestions from employees.


3. Demonstrate Concern

Genuine care for staff should be evidenced through positive relationships with all members of the work community. People feel valued when this is expressed and clearly nurtured. This models the Christian belief that every person is made in the image of God and, as such, should be treated with dignity.


Covey creates a very compelling image when discussing the importance of trust in organisations. He puts trust into a simple formula:

Trust = Speed Cost

Increased trust among coworkers produces increased speed of efficiency and a decrease in cost because they are able to get more things done.


The inverse is also true:

Trust = Speed Cost

An environment with little or no trust among coworkers leads to a decrease in speed of efficiency and an increase in cost because less gets done. (BCWI, 2016)


Trust is integral to our lives as Christians. Let’s model it in all we do in our spiritual, professional and personal lives.


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


Further reading and viewing:

Agora, Anglican EdComm (2017) Trust and Verify: The Real Key to Schools' Improvement. (Blog posting) Accessed at


Covey, M. R. (2009) Leading at the Speed of Trust. Accessed at  (6.11 mins.)


Covey, M. R. (2013) Seeing Trust Through a New Lens accessed at (14.52 mins.) Whilst targeting a marketing corporation, this talk has many elements that can be utilised.


Pellowe, J. (2017) Trust and Authenticity in the Workplace.  Christian Workplace Reflections. Accessed at


Heartland Church Network. A Christian overlay of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything. Accessed at




Best Christian Workplace Institute. (2016). ‘Building Trust in Organisations.  Your Toolkit for Increasing Trust and Productivity’. Accessed at


Covey, S. M. R., & Merrill, R.R. (2006). The Speed of Trust’: The One Thing that Changes Everything.  United States, New York:Simon & Schuster, Inc.


McCulla, N. & Warren Marks, W. (2016) Australia: Halfway to Anywhere? in Fink, D. (Ed.) Trust and Verify: The Real Keys to School Improvement. London, UK: University College London Institute of Education Press.






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