Healthy Team Commitments – Trust

By January 9, 2020Leadership

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:

  1. We are committed to building trust into our interpersonal and team relationships.
  2. We are committed to helping each other succeed, because our individual effectiveness is directly related to our overall effectiveness.
  3. We are committed to being teachable and to take personal responsibility for our own leadership growth.
  4. We are committed to the principles of self-care.
  5. 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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  • 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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