Trust: The Foundation for Any Team

I am a huge fan of Patrick Lencioni’s writings, so much that I became an authorized partner to teach his curriculum “The 5 Behaviors of an Effective Team” based on his best selling book “The 5 Behaviors of a Dysfunctional Team.” In Pat’s opinion – and mine – trust is the foundation for teams; without it your house will crumble.

There are two types of trust:

“Common” Trust is the confidence / belief that a team member won’t break generally accepted rules, norms, policies, etc. It’s the trust that they won’t steal the computers if left in the office alone, or deliberately corrupt the database. Without “common” trust, it would be very difficult to operate as a team.

Vulnerability-Based Trust is a much deeper confidence that you can be vulnerable with teammates. The belief that you can do things like take risks, ask for help, admit mistakes, or confront and hold others accountable without fear of retaliation, humiliation, or resentment. A comprehensive Google study of 180 of their teams found this, which they termed “psychological safety”, was the number one factor that distinguished high performing teams from the rest.

This type of trust has to be earned and given.

As a leader, you can have a compelling vision, rock-solid strategy. You can be the smiling face amid the people and have great business insight, but if people don’t trust you, you will never be able to produce the results you long for. Leaders who people can have faith in garner better results, improved morale, higher retention and loyalty. In an absence of trust, there will be low morale, results will be mediocre at best and loyalty is out the door.

Although trust cannot be built overnight, it can be lost in one careless move. Be genuine with your people. Admit to your failings and mistakes. Say you’re sorry or “I don’t know,” and give credit to the people who are doing the work. Your team will respect you so much more if they view you as a human being, just like them. True authenticity is the only way to build, and keep your trust intact.