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Why Trust Matters in Team Building!

Trust is one of those infrequently talked about, but highly implicated dynamics that impact both Teamwork and Leadership! Here's a few of our observations and insights into how critical trust is in being an effective leader and team!

Insight 1. Trust as it relates to Leadership or ‘Vertical’ Elements of Trust:

Vicious Cycle: Low Trust (Trust Level) - Autocracy (Culture) – Compliance (Engagement Level) – Management/Micro-Management (Leadership Focus).

Low Trust, in part contributes to a culture of autocracy since Leadership does not hold a strongly held belief in their people’s ability/willingness/desire to be ‘self-directing.’ This top-down management style (autocratic) begets a level of engagement that at best can be described as ‘compliance’ but also may engender resistance and resentment. Once this cycle begins Leaders will increasingly spend their time managing, or worse micro-managing, which tends to worsen the level of dis-trust and thus the ‘vicious cycle’ perpetuates.

Virtuous Cycle: High Trust (Trust Level) - Autonomy (Culture) – Conviction (Engagement Level) – Leadership (Leadership Focus).

High Trust, helps create a culture of autonomy. Daniel Pink defines autonomy as, ‘our innate drive to be self-determining.’ Leaders who trust their people’s inherent desire to: A/ be self-directing (Autonomy), B/ become better and better at something that matters (Mastery), and C/ serve something larger than ourselves (Purpose) will create an optimal environment for highly motivated people. A climate of autonomy often leads to a level of engagement best described as conviction, or ‘deep commitment.’ This level of engagement frees the members of the Leadership Team to focus on Leadership tasks that no one else in the organization can fulfill. As employees responds positively to this High Trust climate and ‘enlightened’ leadership style, and as Leaders are freed to do a better job of truly leading, results naturally improve/thus reinforcing the ‘virtuous cycle.’

Insight 2. Trust as it relates to Teamwork or ‘Horizontal’ Elements of Trust:

Trust - Empathy (mutual understanding/regard) - Accountability (Shared) - Mastery (Results)

High trust within a team builds the willingness to be self-revealing, open, honest which is healthy in all relationships. Especially when facing high-stress situations this ability to ‘name the elephants’ is key in moving through the difficulty in a way that strengthens the team. With trust and empathy teams begin to feel a real sense of commitment to each other, to shared accountability. A team united through trust, empathy and shared accountability can become better and better at creating results that matter.

Secrecy - Hiding (information and self) – Individualism – Turbulence (Inconsistent Outcomes)

Low trust reveals a tendency to withhold information, ideas, and your real feelings tend to mount. This is sometimes referred to as CYA in ‘corp-speak’ and serve neither the individual nor the organization well. Individualism, ‘lone wolf’ syndrome within teams is damaging of team unity and organizational results!