Why do teams stacked with superstars fail to win championships?
Whether it’s business or sports, high-performing teams rely on more than just natural talent alone. Having been in various positions of senior leadership for nearly 30 years, I have noticed that the healthiest teams share certain commitments. It is the strength and keeping of these commitments that often make the difference.
Here are the five commitments I believe are crucial to building an effective team:
- We are committed to building trust into our interpersonal and team relationships.
- We are committed to helping each other succeed, because our individual effectiveness is directly related to our overall effectiveness.
- We are committed to being teachable and to take personal responsibility for our own leadership growth.
- We are committed to the principles of self-care.
- We are committed to living on the solution side of every issue.
We are committed to building trust into our interpersonal and team relationships.
High-trust teams perform better than low-trust teams.
When teammates don’t trust each other, it’s not that they remain neutral towards each other. The opposite of trust is distrust – not believing the other person will tell the truth, keep their promise, or deliver on time.
But distrust rarely remains static and value-neutral. Distrust leads to suspicion about the person’s fundamental nature, not their ability to do their job.
If a person is incompetent, I probably won’t distrust their character or question their transparency. Instead, I will assess their level of training and whether their abilities are better suited for a different role or responsibility.
Now, if they had lied to me about their competency … that’s a different assessment altogether.
Once suspicion creates into a work environment, it affects the entire culture. Why? Because environment and culture are not inert objects – they are comprised of people. People have feelings and emotions, and those feelings and emotions influence their decision-making and risk-taking.
Decision-making slows down in the absence of trust. When I believe the best about a teammate, I often (even unknowingly) make certain assumptions about what they will do. Based on prior interactions, I have more confidence that things will be done correctly and on-time. Without that trust, there will be checking and double-checking, extra meetings, more people involved, and generally a slower process.
When trust is low among a team, I can almost guarantee there will also be a lower tolerance for risk. The reason is simple: I’m willing to take a chance if I believe everyone else will do their job correctly and on time. I’m less likely to climb out on the limb if I doubt it’s been properly vetted and prepared.
If you want a high performing team, be intentional about building trust into the fabric of your organization. How do you do that? Let me a few short, simple responses.
- Be trustworthy yourself. You can’t expect others to be what you are unwilling to be yourself.
- Be transparent. Nothing creates suspicion more than doubt and we often unintentionally create doubt by withholding information that could easily be shared.
- Be direct. In a kind and loving way, call out untrustworthy behavior or comments. Start with the benefit of the doubt, but don’t tolerate a lack of trust.
- Be consistent. Revisit your values often. Formalize them. Celebrate trustworthiness and how it contributed to a team win.
Trust is the foundation of successful teams.
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Experience and Background
- 25+ years of senior leadership experience
- masters in management and leadership
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
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