Trust is also the foundation for effective team building. When absent, the prospect of creating a highly functioning team is unlikely. Team members that trust each other can readily admit mistakes, acknowledge weaknesses, ask for help, apologize when necessary, and share comfortably about their personal lives. When trust is lacking, team members will focus their energies on protecting turf at the expense of others.
In my work with teams and leaders, I find that trust is a rare commodity in many workplaces, both large and small. While on the surface a team may appear to be getting along and working together, a closer look will often reveal behaviors and habits that contradict the harmonious picture being presented in public.
Leaders contribute to this problem when they rely on fear and control as the primary methods for achieving results. Without a strong foundation of trust any team will be susceptible to mean-spirited attacks, ambiguous decision-making, little or no accountability, and results that serve individual self-interest over the team’s goals.
Today’s preferred communication methods of email and text messaging does little to foster trust. When leaders opt for “saving time” by avoiding face-to-face encounters they send a message that relationships aren’t important. Strong, healthy teams need to spend time together on a regular basis if they are to gain each other’s trust.
Leaders must also model vulnerability in these settings so others will know it is “safe” to reveal their own shortcomings or to challenge the ideas being presented. Assessment tools, like DiSC, may be needed to help team members understand each other better.
Building trust should be a high priority for conscious leaders. What are you doing in your leadership role to model and foster trust on your team? If I asked your team members how well you model admitting mistakes and acknowledging weaknesses, what would they say about you? Do you take time to build relationships or hide behind your computer screen?
Every leader should commit to work harder at building trust. Our ability to lead effectively depends on it.