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I am just completing a month of travelling and seminars. One thing I hear repeatedly in the seminars I attend is leaders must take time to show they are relationally trustworthy* before the team, committee, congregation, etc. will really engage with them as a leader.

It occurred to me that we don’t really talk about how the members of a team, committee, congregation, etc. also need to show they are relationally trustworthy. We talk about how leaders must be accountable (and they must be) without much emphasis on the same relational accountability for team members.

This probably sounds like a leader pity party but think about it for a minute. In the environments where we feel the most healthy – creative, appreciated and excited about what we are doing – trust is flowing BOTH ways. These are places and times when we feel safe enough to be vulnerable.

So maybe, for an organization to move towards being truly healthy, the best leader isn’t necessarily the person who has it all together and never makes mistakes thereby “proving” they can be trusted. After all, a manipulative and self-seeking person could do that. Rather, it’s the person who is willing to be vulnerable first, to be the first to step into the fray and to engage with people as a real person; even with those who haven’t demonstrated trust or worse, have demonstrated untrustworthiness.

*I am saying relationally trustworthy to distinguish it from technical competency; trusting a person to complete a task. In one of my past workplaces the office administrator could be trusted to get things done and she worked very hard to ensure customer satisfaction. At the same time, she was harshly critical and judgmental. Get it?