#062: Five Easy Ways to Make Your Employees Distrust You

What do you think? Is a business liable to be more efficient and produce better results if employees distrust management? How about if management distrusts employees? Well, how about if employees distrust each other?

Pinnochio, Liar, Distrust

Trust (or distrust) seems to be a pretty hot topic in business. I did a quick Amazon search and came up with over 83,000 books that deal with the topic of trust. Narrowing the search to “business + trust” still yielded over 21,000 selections. Books on trust are hot!

Then I decided to Google “business seminars on employee trust” and got an incredible 2.2 million hits. Now I am sure there are a lot of duplicates in this world-wide search, but still, it seems like a lot of people are making a living doing seminars for businesses on employee trust.

If trust is all that important I thought it would be helpful to take a look at some of the most common things management can do to break trust with employees. To be sure this is just a partial list, but here are my top five things management can do to get employees to distrust them. These five are tops in my list simply because I’ve experienced them all, in both the secular marketplace and in Christian organizations.


If the children’s rhyme, “liar, liar pants on fire,” were true there would be a bunch of managers running around with pants on fire. Anytime an employee catches a manager in a lie, or even a half truth, trust is broken.

Proverbs 17:4 says that a liar pays attention to those who are malicious: “A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.” That is definitely not what a Christian leader should be.

Furthermore, the Scripture says in Proverbs 14:5, “A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.” As a Christian leader in the marketplace you want your witness to be truth not falsehood.

Don’t Honor Commitments

Not honoring your commitments is a close cousin to lying. Imagine you make a commitment and the situation changes, and you cannot honor your commitment. Do you think the employee cares about the situation, or do you think they will be injured by the broken promise?

Proverbs 25:14 says, “Broken promises are worse than rain clouds that don’t bring rain.” In other words they are worthless!

Betray Confidences

I don’t know the origin of the phrase, “If someone will gossip to you, they will gossip about you,” but I’ve found it to be true. If a manager betrays a confidence by gossiping to others, what makes you think they won’t betray your confidence? Such leaders cannot be trusted.

Proverbs 11:13 (HCSB) says, A gossip goes around revealing a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.”

Blame Others

The first scriptural instance of blaming others occurs in Genesis 3. First the man blames Eve for the whole apple incident, and then Eve blames the serpent.  For the same reason that Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent, some managers today have a tendency to blame others rather than take responsibility. Leaders who blame others usually do it either to make themselves look better, or to make someone else look bad, or both.

Hosea 4:4 has an admonition for the priests who were the leaders of that day, “No one should accuse or blame another person. Don’t blame the people, you priests, when they quarrel with you.”

Refuse to Admit Mistakes

Look, aside from Jesus, no one is perfect. The manager who hasn’t been wrong or made a mistake hasn’t been born yet. So, if you are a manager who refuses to admit that you’ve made a mistake here and there, you can be sure that you are developing an atmosphere of distrust among your employees.

Proverbs 29:1 says, “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.”

Admitting a mistake is not a reflection of your weakness. Rather it is a reflection of your strength of character.


Leaders who want to cultivate a trusting relationship with employees need to avoid these five trust busters. By my way of thinking each of the last four are related to the first, lying.

  • Not honoring commitments means a promise has been broken. It’s better not to promise or make commitments when there is a chance you may not be able to honor them.
  • Betraying a confidence suggests you promised to keep a secret and didn’t. Again, lying.
  • Blaming others by not taking responsibility is lying since you’re trying to shift blame to someone else.
  • Refusing to admit mistakes is lying, at least to yourself, because let’s face it, none of us is perfect.

Employees relate better and trust managers who reflect their humanity with honesty, warts and weaknesses and all.

Join the conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever worked for a manager who displayed one or more of these trust busting characteristics? If so, how did you relate to them? Have you struggled with any of these yourself?

Category: Personal Development | Character

#061: Should Christians be Tolerant or Intolerant?

How should Christians behave in the marketplace? Should they be tolerant or intolerant? How about outside of the workplace?

Jesus Moneychangers

Note: This article is a follow-up to last week’s article “Do you have morals, and believe in free speech? Get ready for the unemployment line!”

To begin our answer to these questions let’s take a look at what Scripture says.

1) God wants us to be like His Son, Jesus. This process of sanctification, becoming like Jesus, is never finished this side of Heaven, but it something we Christians strive to attain.

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NRSV)

2) What can we expect in the world? Scripture tells us clearly that in the world there will be those who turn away from God. There are those who are not content to merely reject His teaching, but teach the opposite!

Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21 (NRSV)

 The prophet Malachi even predicted that such things would happen 450 years before Christ!

You have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “All who do evil are good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?” Malachi 2:17 (NRSV)

Jesus fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy when he drove out the temple moneychangers.

Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” Luke 19:45-46 (NRSV)

 3) Should Christians judge? We’ve heard some say to Christians, “You shouldn’t judge.” In logic this is known as self-defeating statement. By saying that you shouldn’t judge, they are making a judgment themselves. Occasionally, Christians will be confronted with someone who quotes part of Matthew 7:1, saying, “doesn’t the Bible tell you not to judge (Judge not lest you be judged)?” When the entire passage is examined in context it is clear that Jesus is not teaching that we should not judge. Rather, He is teaching us HOW we should judge.

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 (NRSV)

 In the Gospel of John, Jesus told us we need to judge, but we need to judge in the right way!

Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24 (NRSV)

4) Was Jesus tolerant? If we are commanded by God to be more like His Son, it raises the question, “Was Jesus tolerant?” Looking at scripture, we see Jesus was in fact, intolerant!

Jesus was intolerant of

  1. thievery,
  2. disrupting worship,
  3. those with a self-righteous attitude,
  4. those who would obscure the majesty of God with man’s traditions,
  5. leading people astray, and
  6. sexual immorality.

5) How then should Christians behave—should we be tolerant or intolerant? Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Christians should be tolerant. Any suggestion that Christians should be tolerant would be diametrically opposed to the Jesus’ own behavior. What the Scripture does say, and this is important, is that Christians should love one another. Jesus speaking to the disciples said,

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (NRSV)

 6) Should Christians behave one way at work and another way at home? Scripture clearly tells us that double minded men are unstable in all they do (James 1:8). Be of one mind, both at work and at home. Consider Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians,

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NKJV)


Tolerance of behavior that runs contrary to God’s plan implies that we do not care enough about the individual to explain God’s plan. Yet, we are commanded to love one another as a demonstration of God’s love for us!  To the extent that we sit quietly on the sidelines, and allow a vocal minority to call evil good, and good evil, we are hypocrites; saying we believe God, but doing nothing to demonstrate our belief.

Join the conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What do you think? Should Christians be tolerant, or should we be ready to stand for God’s principles? And, if we are to stand for God’s principles, what should that look like?

Category: Personal Development | Character

#060: Do you have morals and believe in free speech? If so, get ready for the unemployment line!

Having a moral framework, a set of guiding principles, and believing in free speech can be a recipe for the unemployment line. Just ask Brandon Eich.

Free Speech, Constitution

Brandon was co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Mozilla until the board appointed him to the position of CEO of the Mozilla Foundation on March 24, 2014. He resigned as CEO only 11 days later on April 3, 2014. I imagine he hadn’t even had time to move into his new office.

What happened to Brandon? What could possibly have happened to cause him to resign in less than two weeks? The answer is simple. Mr. Eich had the temerity to believe in and support traditional marriage. He backed up his personal belief a few years ago by making a financial contribution to the Prop 8 Campaign in California, which maintained that marriage was defined as between a man and a woman. By the way, 33 other states have a similar law, and 52% of the California electorate supported Prop 8.

The “tolerant” folks who support gay rights demanded Eich’s removal now because he gave money to a campaign initiative years ago. They started an online petition to gather signatures demanding his removal, and threatened Mozilla they would all switch to another browser if he was not removed. A huge dating website, OK Cupid, reportedly blocked Mozilla users from their site during his tenure as protest.

No one at Mozilla has ever come forward in the 16 years since Mozilla was founded to suggest even remotely that Mr. Eich’s personal beliefs led to the unfair, or illegal treatment of any race or class or people regardless of their beliefs. In fact, in his own statement to the company as CEO, he reinforces the importance of diversity and acceptance within the company, and the larger global technology industry itself.

What makes the situation even more difficult to understand is that in the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Committee (2008) the Supreme Court held that political contributions were protected free speech. Yet, apparently in the land of Mozilla, protected free speech from years ago can be brought forward as a basis to terminate an employee.

In a written statement, Mozilla Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, wrote, “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it,” She doesn’t know how right she is! She allowed a small, but vocal, opposition to, in effect, overturn a decision the Mozilla Board of Directors had made just a few days prior. Way to stick by your people (sarcasm light is on)!

I don’t understand why the folks who support gay rights haven’t gone after the nearly 7,000 other corporations and people who donated $1,000 to Prop 8. Why not demand the resignation of all of their executives? Where does it stop? For that matter, why just takes away the jobs of those who don’t believe the way the “tolerant” gay rights supporters do? Why not take away their property rights? Their right to vote? If some of the Constitution is now void for those who oppose a viewpoint, why not the rest of it? What about the Bill of Rights? Is that only for those who agree with a certain viewpoint?

NEXT WEEK I’ll review the Biblical implications and principles that touch on this issue.


Ask yourself what course of action should we as Christians take when confronted with similar situations. My bet is they will happen with greater and greater frequency in the months and years ahead!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What do you think about Mozilla’s action? What do you think about the actions of the supporters of gay marriage – are they right?

Category: Personal Development | Wisdom

#059: The Single Most Important Qualification for Leadership

Of all the possible qualifications for leadership, and there are many, there is one that is, without a doubt, the single most important qualification for leadership. I learned the hard way, not having this one qualification is an absolute deal breaker when assessing future leaders in your organization.

Leader, Leadership

On several occasions during my career my wife Barbara would meet someone that I work with, and later advise me not to trust that person. On a few occasions, my assessment of the individual aligned with hers; neither of us felt I should trust that person. Sadly, there were a few occasions when I thought I knew the person well enough to make a more informed opinion than my wife. I trusted someone who ended up not being trustworthy.

The difference between Barb and me in our assessment of people is that she has the ability to meet someone, and look deep into their hearts. I, on the other hand, tend to be swayed in my judgment, by external factors—how they look, how they carry themselves, their charisma. I am trying to become more like Barb, looking at someone’s heart as the most important qualification for leadership. It turns out Barb’s intuition for assessing potential leaders is quite Biblical.

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