Developing Team Trust

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The first and most important behavior for developing a high-functioning, cohesive team is to build trust. According to Patrick Lencioni, author of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, team trust is all about vulnerability.* Team members who trust one another are comfortable being open to one another regarding their failures, weaknesses, and fears. Vulnerability-based trust is based on the simple idea that people who are willing to admit the truth about themselves are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes everyone’s time and energy and, more important, makes it difficult to achieve real results.

Absence of Team Trust

Members that lack team trust often exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another
  • Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback
  • Don’t offer help to people outside of their own areas of responsibility
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them
  • Fail to recognize and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
  • Waste time and energy managing their behaviors for effect
  • Hold grudges
  • Find reasons to avoid spending time together

Developing Team Trust

Team members need to be comfortable being vulnerable around one another so that they will be courageous to honestly say things like “I was wrong,” “I made a mistake,” “I need help,” “I’m not sure,” “You’re better than I am at that,” and “I’m sorry.” Unless they can bring themselves to speak these words when the situation calls for it, they will waste time and energy thinking about what they should say and wondering about the true intentions of their peers.

For a group to establish real team trust, team members, including the leader, must be willing to take risks without a guarantee of success. They will have to be vulnerable without knowing whether that vulnerability will be respected and reciprocated.

Teamwork has become the single most untapped competitive advantage.  To gain this advantage, teams must trust one another, engage in healthy conflict around ideas, commit to decisions, hold one another accountable, and focus on achieving collective results. These are The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, an assessment-driven team development experience that helps individuals and organizations build high-functioning teams.

*Based on Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, and “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team”.  “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” is a trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tom Sullivan is an authorized partner of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team

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