At some point, we’ve all been a member of a team. Even if you aren’t into sports, or don’t volunteer for committees, you are part of your work team, a department, maybe a quality circle, or task force. Even your family is a team of sorts.
Some teams you’ve experienced most likely stand out as the “best” or the “worst.” Those assessments are often based on the behavioral characteristics of some of your fellow team members.
There is one quality that stands out in teams that not only succeed, but flourish.
That critical behavioral characteristic is trust. Trust is the bedrock of any group that expects to work together effectively. Without a firm foundation, structures and systems will be unstable, and may crumble and fall. Likewise, without the solid bedrock of trust, a team will struggle.
Trust means different things to people. In the workplace, we typically think of “predictive trust” – the ability to predict a person’s behavior based on past experience. But this may not always be enough to propel a team to be their most productive and achieve their visions and goals. We also need to add vulnerability based trust to not only complete the task at hand, but to flourish.
Consider what it means to be vulnerable with your team:
- Confidence that your peers’ intentions are good
- Being unguarded and genuine with one another
- Comfortable sharing ideas without fearing judgment
- Being aware of others’ feelings and being willing to apologize to one another
- Open to acknowledging our own weaknesses
- Asking for input and feedback regarding our areas of responsibility
A lack of vulnerability based trust can create a hesitancy to engage in an unfiltered, constructive debate of ideas and solutions. It can become difficult for team members to generate their best ideas and solutions in a healthy and productive manner. Some team members may perceive these discussions and debate as conflict, and withdraw. Others may feel their ideas are being overshadowed or dismissed and take it personally. Suggestions made by more reserved members can be drowned out by their more vocal peers. Sound familiar?
Only with a firm bedrock of trust, can a team work together toward its goals in a solid, healthy manner. Once that foundation is established, there’s something to build on, and no boundaries to what can be accomplished.
To find out more about building a flourishing team click here for a sample report of a remarkable team assessment. It’s based on Patrick Lencioni’s work, Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team©.
If you’d like to understand your team’s definitions of trust, contact me for a quick trust exercise you can share at your next team meeting.