6 Ways to Build Trust for Greater Impact

by Larry Sharp

In early 2016 I picked up a copy of the The Economist, entitled “The World in 2016”. An article on page 90 intrigued me entitled, “A Crisis of Trust” by Richard Eldelman.1 Mr. Edelman maintains that “trust – or, often, the lack of it – is one of the central issues of our time”. He may be right.

The Edelman Trust Barometer has been tracking trust issues for fifteen years, particularly between countries in the categories of government, business, technology, media, and NGOs. Technology is the most trusted sector and government is the least trusted institution worldwide. While trust in business is recovering, trust in CEOs has declined by ten points since 2011.

A recent Maritz poll2 indicates that only seven percent of workers strongly agree that they trust their senior leaders to look out for their best interest. John Blanchard’s research demonstrates that 59% of respondents indicated they had left an organization due to trust issues, citing lack of communication and dishonesty as key contributing factors.3 Clearly everywhere and in every sector, trust is at a tipping point.

All of this got me thinking about missional business startups. Certainly trust is fragile – in all aspects of life, and also in business. It is imperative for clients, customers, employees and team members to trust the owner because it is often easier to mistrust than to trust. What can a business owner do to develop high levels of trust?

The simplest understanding of trust is that it centers in competence and character. If owners and managers are competent in their knowledge, practice, and in getting things done; and they are persons of integrity, reliability and promise, they are probably a person of trust.

Perhaps the following concrete actions will go a long way to building trust in the business environment.

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Second in Command

by Larry Sharp

Business as Mission (BAM) narratives oftentimes focus on the founder or the entrepreneur credited with the initial startup leadership; and rightly so; but sometimes the real reason for success may rest with the #2 or #3 person. Sometimes key success factors can be traced to the “second in command”.

Since graduating with a business degree in 1968, I have had more than one opportunity to lead an organization both in Brazil and in Pennsylvania, but most of my life in management has been as the #2 guy – in Alaska managing a fish plant; in Brazil; and as VP of operations and business partnerships for Crossworld for 19 years. What is positive about being second in command?

  1. Flexibility in use of abilities.

My years as the second guy gave me an opportunity to maximize my skills, giftedness and interests. Oftentimes the CEO is required to do things because of his/her position which are not aligned with skills and interests. I observed my bosses consumed with fund raising, capital development, spontaneous thinking, or public speaking, all of which were not appealing to me. The scriptures are clear that God creates all people differently and when it comes to a Kingdom business, employees contribute best when in positions that maximize their God-given wiring and experiences.1

  1. Influence on specialized audiences.

Mike Baer in his book 2IC: Business as Mission for the Rest of Us, uses the Biblical characters of Daniel and Joseph to demonstrate that what they accomplished relative to God’s purposes and influencing people was highly correlated with their positions as the number two guy. I was very grateful for the opportunities to influence individual employees while managing a fish processing plant because I wasn’t on the phone all day or up in the office. Similarly, while supervising a home mission office I was able to develop people, solve problems and make strategic plans – something that was less true for my boss, the CEO.

  1. Identification with regular employees.

While it is true that those who are second in command do have influence and authority, there is a certain advantage with not being the top dog. People tend to look at you also as having a boss and can identify with you and that gives you respect and identity with many. In more than one situation, I found it acceptable to participate in “community work day” with everyone else, while it was less likely that the President, my boss, could get so involved with mundane tasks. Such activities endeared me to the employees.

  1. Time to think and plan.

“In Consiglieri (an Italian word for adviser or counselor that dates back to the Middle Ages but was made famous by The Godfather), Richard Hytner writes about two types of what he calls “C” executives: Those who have taken advantage of the No. 2 role to prepare themselves for the top job—think Tim Cook, who was Steve Jobs’ longtime deputy at Apple before becoming CEO—and those who value the position for its own sake. For one thing, he likes “having the time to think through a problem deeply, which most CEOs do not have,” he says. “If you are curious and contemplative by nature and enjoy influencing strategy and events from behind the scenes, then there really is no better job.”2

Second in command people often have different motivations than A leaders. They often crave time and space to think, opportunity to create and shape practical outcomes, and the satisfaction of directly helping others. I well remember receiving Sunday phone calls from our president with his latest “wild idea” asking me if we could do it and could I prepare a draft plan for early in the week. When the CEO is open to reason and discussion, such scenarios are often a welcome challenge to the number two person.

  1. Opportunity to be mentored for the CEO job.

I well remember being appointed as president of a group in Brazil after being a vice president and being mentored by my predecessor. He continually assured me that I could do it even though ten years earlier he was clear that I couldn’t. His faith in me at the right time was a real confidence builder.
A recent study of top positions in US corporations indicated that 60% of those second in command did not aspire to the top job. However, in the world of the startup and especially Business as Mission initiatives, there is high probability that the entrepreneur or founding owner may not survive until profitability. Thus, he or she must be on the lookout for number 2 or 3 individuals as part of succession planning. In small startup companies, a person with aspirations and competency for the CEO role may have a shorter pathway to the top role than in big corporations. Taking the number two position, when determined to learn and grow, can be a great positive factor.


This blog is reposted from IBEC Ventures:


Larry Sharp is the Founder and current Director of Strategic Training and Partnerships of a Business for Transformation (BAM, B4t) consulting firm, International Business and Education Consultants (www.ibecventures.com). Larry served 21 years in Brazil and then 20 years as Crossworld VP of Operations and as Vice President of Business Partnerships. He is currently a VP Emeritus and consultant with Crossworld. Since 2007 he has devoted energies toward Business as Mission (BAM) and currently is a consultant on BAM and education themes. Larry travels within North America speaking and teaching in conferences, colleges and churches on themes related to Business As Mission (BAM, B4t) and missions.  His travels abroad relate to BAM, crisis preparation and management, and team building. 

Flying Fish: Lessons I Learned from a Risk Taker

by Larry Sharp

I was recently driving through Tucson, Arizona and decided to go out of my way and visit the famed airplane graveyard in the desert. Hundreds of planes are parked there because it is a safe, dry place. Many will never fly again but many are still very useful; it is just that there is no market for them.

The scene reminded me of my mother-in-law who was the first person I met who was a true entrepreneur, one characteristic of which is having a high tolerance for taking risks. I had taken a job in a fish processing plant which she owned. I quickly learned the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of fish processing in Alaska and the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of working with a risk taker.

First a little background on the salmon industry in Alaska. The salmon return to their streams to spawn on a God-given cycle and they return at different times throughout the summer. So when they come to Cook Inlet, the fishermen are ready for the summer’s catch; similarly when they come to Bristol Bay, or to the Copper River area or to the Yukon River. The trick is that no one knows when that time is.

The net result of all this is that the processing plants (such as the one we operated) have a feast or famine situation. There are either so many fish we can’t keep up processing 24/7; or we are sitting around waiting for the fish, paying stand-by crews to do nothing.
An innovator comes up with a novel workable idea; and the entrepreneur makes it happen.

I don’t know who thought of the idea, but I know that Doris made it happen.
The novel idea was to fly fish by airplane from an area with a glut of fish to an area waiting for fish to process. So if Bristol Bay had too many fish to handle, why not fly them by the plane load to Cook Inlet where the plants were waiting for their fish. Then when Cook Inlet is glutted, fly their fish to the plants in Bristol Bay which are winding down their operations. A novel and gutsy idea!

Many things needed to happen. Many things could go wrong. But Doris looked at this challenge the way she always looked at such challenges with a “why not? not “why?” perspective. She made some phone calls to the Arizona desert and discovered that DC-3s, 4s, and 6s where sitting there still operable. She also knew the Vietnam war was winding down and young pilots who had returned, were still itching to fly.

So she made it happen – hiring pilots, paying licensing fees, leasing planes, renting tarmac space at small airports, buying fish totes and bringing it all to Alaska. People thought she was crazy. I was one of them. However, not only was it profitable for our company, but she set the stage for an industry of flying fish which continues to this day.

This Alaskan seafood company provided me with my first real business management experience and its owner, Doris, with my first experience working for a risk taker and industry innovator.

Time and again, Doris proved to be a master risk taker. Though it wasn’t always easy, working for her taught me countless lessons that have helped me throughout my life and particularly in my work with BAM (Business as Mission) businesses. I’ll pass on these nine to you, in hopes that you can learn from them as well:

  1. Tolerance: Entrepreneurs think outside the box. Doris’ ideas were uncomfortable to me as a manager and to the finance people who continuously watched the financial bottom line. This was another scary idea from Doris. One day I asked where Doris was and she was on a plane for the capitol to talk to the Governor. Wow, I thought, I could have used that money to hire someone to fix an ailing compressor. I either had to learn tolerance for her risk tolerance or get out. As hard as it was, I decided to stay.
  2. Comfort with chaos: As Lewis Carroll said, “Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” That was Doris. It irritated me. I wondered where the money would come from. I wondered where it went. All this was not my comfort level. Again, I had to learn to accept difference and be comfortable with chaos.
  3. Adaptability: As a manager I had a plan. I had goals for the shift, for the fish from the first sight of them as they surfaced from the boats in the brailers, to the semi-trailers that hauled the frozen fish away to faraway places like Norway and Japan. I scheduled breaks for the guys and knew how to put shifts together. Now I was called to the office to think about something new. I had to be patient and learn to adapt.
  4. Communication: I had to learn that sometimes risk-taking entrepreneurs need people like me and I need the courage to ask questions and make comments. That means advanced levels of communication because risk-takers sometimes have their mind made up before you first hear about the idea. It might be too late for my comments, but I needed to learn how to do it appropriately and in a timely manner.
  5. Togetherness: In the business world we cannot afford a “we-them” approach as we aim toward common goals. I had to try to get along with Doris, not only as my mother-in-law, but as my boss, and as a person taking risks which sometimes seemed impossible. Some were unreasonable, but when we saw success, I learned to say, “you were right – congratulations Doris.”
  6. Acceptance of failure: Not all of Doris’ big ideas were successes; in fact, many were not; not unlike big industry in America. Remember the Ford Edsel, New Coke, and Apple Lisa. According to a recent Wall Street study, it is normal for 40% of new product launches to flop. While working with Doris in Alaska’s fish industry I learned that risk-takers accept failure, and I needed to understand that.
  7. There is always another day: With all the things that cause discomfort in working with an entrepreneur who takes risks easily, it can be easy to lose sleep. Maybe it was working the long days and nights, but I eventually learned to sleep and not worry about it and try to develop strategies for learning things like tolerance, adaptability, togetherness, communication, and acceptance of how a risk-taker operates.
  8. It is all about the customer: Managers can get myopic about the details of operation, but it is important to keep the big picture in mind. Doris often thought about the value of salmon to the customer – its nutritional value and lofty goals like “feeding the world”. It was all about good food and healthy people. It was about the customer.
  9. Leadership: Doris was a leader and I learned that leaders lead, set direction and inspire followers. I wanted to be a leader, too, so I watched, listened and learned so that even though I had the innate qualities of a manager, I could learn leadership qualities, see the big picture and drive toward satisfying customer needs, improve product quality and employee development. I started to learn to do the right thing and not just to do things right, as Warren Bennis reminds us “Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right.”.


This blog is reposted from IBEC Ventures:




Larry Sharp is the Founder and current Director of Strategic Training and Partnerships of a Business for Transformation (BAM, B4t) consulting firm, International Business and Education Consultants (www.ibecventures.com). Larry served 21 years in Brazil and then 20 years as Crossworld VP of Operations and as Vice President of Business Partnerships. He is currently a VP Emeritus and consultant with Crossworld. Since 2007 he has devoted energies toward Business as Mission (BAM) and currently is a consultant on BAM and education themes. Larry travels within North America speaking and teaching in conferences, colleges and churches on themes related to Business As Mission (BAM, B4t) and missions.  His travels abroad relate to BAM, crisis preparation and management, and team building. 

Excerpt from Wealth Creation and the Stewardship of Creation

Intentional Stewardship (Page 12)

Along with the spiritual, financial, and social bottom line, the environmental bottom line is an integral measure of a God-centered successful business. The subject of this series is wealth creation for holistic transformation. The work of wealth creators includes sharing the Good News of salvation through Jesus, improving the financial wellbeing of society and the staff within their companies, providing the dignity of work and the stability that ensues from meaningful long term employment, developing a society where we love each other as we love ourselves, and providing the clean energy, water, air and land on which we live. The wealth creator acknowledges this inextricably linked web of relationship with Christ, society and creation.

Environmental stewardship, then, is not an add-on. It is not part of a marketing plan to ‘look good’. It is a God-given command to steward his creation. By affirming one’s business and passion for wealth creation as an important part of the business ecology and an instrument in meeting the cultural mandate, creation will be restored and opportunities for wealth creation will be seen. Each business run by wealth creators has a specialty, a God-gift, and points of excellence that can be applied to a pressing environmental issue. A transportation company can work on innovative fuel efficiency and improve transportation of needed medicines. A restaurant can source its food stocks with care,[i] and reduce food waste by supporting the food bank with excess, then composting the rest. An office can install passive cooling, energy efficient lighting and provide incentives to reduce commuting or increase the use of less polluting transport for their employees. Companies have the advantage of scale and resources to do much good quickly. Environmental discipline is financial discipline (conservation of resources), social discipline (respect of local communities and the resources under their stewardship), and spiritual discipline (obeying God’s commandment to steward the earth). The bottom lines are integral and are split into four for convenience, but not in practice. A company is not truly profitable until it affects a positive return in each bottom line. Stewardship is intentional and requires discipline to carry it out. Sustainable living is to ‘aim for a full, just and responsible enjoyment of the amazing gifts that our generous God has provided for us.’[ii] Read more

Excerpt from Wealth Creation and Justice

Righteous Business (Page 20)

Justice. Righteousness. Scripture often treats these as synonyms. Yet each is distinct. To be just means one has avoided breaking the law, and has fulfilled the law. It conveys an absence of culpability. Righteousness, by contrast, implies a larger, fuller standard of behavior. It subsumes justice, but adds the love-motivated behaviors that represent the very heart of God’s kingdom. Righteousness is a higher standard than justice, applicable to those with ‘ears to hear’. We see this distinction play out quite clearly in Scripture’s guidance to business people.

The Bible has quite serious things to say to employers regarding just compensation of workers. God frequently and emphatically condemns businesspeople who take advantage of their workers, particularly through exploitive compensation:

‘Why have we fasted’, they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers (Isa 58:3, NIV; emphasis added).

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty (James 5:4, NIV; emphasis added).

Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts’ (Mal 3:5, ESV; emphasis added). Read more