The foundation of everything is trust. When I talk about trust what I mean is the ability for team members to be themselves with each other and to bring their best self to work. In the words of Lencioni, “Trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.”
As I walked him through the concepts of high-functioning teams, he nodded and said, “We definitely don’t have the trust. How do you even develop trust in a team?” This is a question I am frequently asked.
At that point, our plane rolled into the gate, the lights went on, and we transitioned into the frenzy of unbuckling seat belts and gathering luggage.
For my new friend in the auto-industry, here are some thoughts and insights on building trust.
There are many elements to building trust within a team, but the first step is to start with yourself.
As a leader, you must go first when it comes to building trust. It’s far too easy to point at others and say, “they don’t do this or they do that.” Ok and what is your role? How do you respond? What might you do to increase trust?
One of the easiest ways to start building trust is to get to know your colleagues and share more about who you are. This could be from one-on-one check-in meetings, going out to lunch, or planned components during staff meetings. Be curious about them and their life. Where did they grow up? How did they meet their spouse? What do they love doing on weekends? And, reciprocate and share your story too. It sounds overly simple, but it works. As we get to know someone we develop a stronger connection and a sense of goodwill towards them. As Margaret Wheatley says, “you can’t hate someone whose story you know.”
The challenge with this is that it requires vulnerability and that can be hard. Vulnerability is a critical element of building trust. In what ways can you be more vulnerable with your colleagues? Are there fears or concerns you have that you are not voicing? Is there valuable information you can share? When do you need to listen more so you can hear their thoughts and opinions? If team members cannot be vulnerable with each other it means they may hide the truth, omit important information, or nod in agreement even when they disagree. None of those will lead to a high-functioning team or a successful company.
If you are looking for one-on-one or small group mentoring to help you become a more effective and trustworthy leader let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
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