Issue No. 323 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights a new book, Trust, by Dan Busby. He quotes what Winston Churchill said of Stanley Baldwin: “He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.” And this reminder: subscribe here for Drucker Mondays, as 52 guest writers share their favorite quotes and commentary from the new book, A Year With Peter Drucker.
The Low-Trust Penalty
Dan Busby knows a thing or two about high-trust organizations. Ditto low-trust nonprofits.
In low-trust organizations, Busby warns, you’ll see:
• Internal dissension. “Without trust, the office dissension machine runs at full speed—and divides a ministry against itself.”
• Disengagement. Staff work in silos and “they shift from joyful service to turf protection.”
• Turnover. “When trust is low, turnover is disproportionately high—ministries lose the people they least want to lose.”
• Fraud. “Low trust encourages a small theft; if they don’t get caught, they may take it to the next level.”
Trust me. In the first 10 pages of Busby’s hot-off-the-press book, Trust: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness, you’re hooked—and convicted. “The largest penalty paid by Christ-centered ministries is the ‘low-trust’ penalty.”
But dozens of authors (hundreds, maybe) have harangued leaders to build high-trust organizations. They are insightful and helpful—books like The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey, and The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni (see his five-level pyramid with “trust” as the foundation). So what’s the big deal about another “trust” book?
This one, with chapter and verse, delivers a blueprint for building a biblical high-trust organization.
This one, with page-turning insights, builds the case with a biblical framework (that’s worth repeating—a biblical framework) and practical, practical examples of the foundational building blocks of high trust cultures.
This one is not formulaic or flaky—it’s formative. Examples:
• Why is trust so important? Read three stunning stories from givers.
• On “The Tone of Trust,” there are eight teamwork examples from the Old and New Testaments, noting that trust starts at the top. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever given a team-building talk using Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Daniel 3.)
• “We ignore perceptions at our peril,” notes the author, so his short chapter on “Perceptions” includes “Ten Major Issues Can Lead to Misperceptions.” (The list: compensation, fringe benefits, intellectual properties, family members paid by the ministry, related-party transactions, and five more.)
Elaborating on perceptions, Busby quotes Wayne Dyer: “Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character.”
The quotations, by the way, are numerous and memorable—over 100 for your PowerPoints, speaking notes, coffee break conversations, and tweets:
• “Our problem as leaders is we do everything we know to do. That’s not enough. We need to do everything God wants us to do.” (Richard Blackaby)
• “A Christ-centered ministry that lacks trust is like a teenager running through a fireworks factory with a lit blowtorch. It isn’t whether something is going to blow up—it’s just a matter of when.” (Busby)
• “Leadership is an achievement of trust.” (Peter F. Drucker)
• “Trust is the starting point for all healthy relationships, the fuel for team ministry, and the cornerstone of group effectiveness.” (Stephen Macchia)
• “Trust is the emotional glue that binds followers and leaders together.” (Warren G. Bennis)
• “The perception of a conflict of interest can be just as damaging to a ministry’s reputation as an actual conflict.” (Busby)
In 21 short chapters, Busby enriches our understanding of trust in four major areas—with a simple, but powerful premise: “Christ-centered ministries with Trusted Governance, Trusted Resource-raising, and Trusted Resource Management experience elevated Kingdom outcomes.”
As the president of ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability), Busby inspires over 1,900 Christian ministries to meet ECFA’s exceedingly high “Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™”—not once, but every day. It’s not a one-and-done accreditation—annual renewals and documentation are required. And get this: ECFA is the nonprofit sector’s only pass/fail approach to accountability and accreditation.
Building the case for third party accreditation of ministries and churches in the chapter on “Verifiable Accountability,” Busby quotes Ravi Zacharias: “History is a grim reminder of what happens to those who think they have no law but themselves.”
“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody,” wrote Thomas Paine, “ought not to be trusted by anybody.”
And speaking of firm foundations, the book notes Michael Armstrong’s visual metaphor: “The ancient Romans had a tradition. Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible; he stood under the arch.”
Busby (who aspired to be a baseball umpire and has umpired hundreds of games, including at the college level) has great insights on rule-keeping, yet his chapter on “Risk Navigation” gives grace!
• “If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.” (Neil Simon)
• “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” (Peter F. Drucker)
Trust me. This book is jam-packed with biblical wisdom (not proof-texted) and in-the-trenches experience by a stellar Christian leader who has been named by the Nonprofit Times as one of the 50 Most Powerful Nonprofit Leaders in each of the last five years. You’ll appreciate the substance and the heart—our motivation for high-trust cultures is to elevate Kingdom outcomes.
I must add these teasers before I close:
• Six descriptors of Selfless Leaders versus six labels for Selfish Leaders (page 57)
• Ten traits of courageous leaders and why courage is a building block of trust (page 70)
• Ten bullet points on obstacles to boardroom harmony (“when problem-makers outnumber problem-solvers”)
• Five myths about nonprofit finances (“Myth #2. Ministries should always balance revenue and expenses.”)
• Worth-the-price-of-the-book: “A Board Prayer” (pages 86-89). Note: One of my CEO friends has inspired his board to pray this prayer at the beginning of every board meeting.
The book includes a short study guide with “9 Ideas for Inspiring Your Board and Staff to Build Trust Into Your Ministry’s DNA.” The fourth idea: “Share the Trust book with one of your stakeholders (not an ‘insider’). Recruit a donor or a key volunteer to read the book—and then meet with your board and/or senior team and share his or her thoughts.”
Still not convinced? John Whitney, a prof at Columbia Business School, says that “mistrust doubles the cost of doing business.” Busby reasons in his chapter on “Minimizing Fraud” that a high-trust focus will save you money. “Fraud is a persistent risk that doesn’t discriminate by size or type of organization. Fraud is an equal-opportunity problem.” This is must-reading.
To order from Amazon, click on the graphic below or this title: Trust: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness, by Dan Busby.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
#1. Max De Pree: “When things go awry, trust powers the generators until the problem is fixed.” Does your team have adequate trust to fix big problems?
#2. Dan Busby: “Verifiable accountability is not a suggestion, it is the principle Jesus taught the disciples—and us!” If our nonprofit ministry or church is not an accredited member of ECFA—why not?
As we cycle through the 20 buckets, here is the core competency in Chapter 11, The Donor Bucket, in Mastering the Management Buckets.
“We believe that extravagant generosity is the biblical norm, not the exception. We challenge donors to give liberally to kingdom causes. We urge prayerful giving to God’s work, not for tax benefits nor budget needs. We scrutinize our methodologies not against what works, but against God-honoring principles.”
Note: Chapter 17, “Honoring Giver Intent,” in Trust: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness, by Dan Busby, includes “The Five Commandments of Giver Intent,” along with six pitfalls. Busby writes, “How a ministry fulfills a giver’s intent regarding specified gifts sends a strong message about whether a ministry can be trusted.”
For more resources and ideas on building trust with givers, visit The Donor Bucket webpage.
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Plus...check out John's post this week on the ECFA governance blog, "There’s an Elephant in the Room—But Let’s Just Keep the Peace!"