I led an interesting session last week based around Patrick Lencioni's "the FIVE Dysfunctions of a Team" and it transpires that Trust is the foundation of building a functional team, a functional business and a functional group or organisation, and relationships (work or personal) ..... you name it, it all hangs on TRUST.

So what is 'Trust' and how is it defined. In Lencioni's context "trust is the confidence among team members that their peers' intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be careful around the group" - individuals feel safe to speak up and say what they think (within reason and acceptable to the group at work).

In an environment where there is no perceived trust individuals will conceal their weaknesses or mistakes from one another, hesitate to ask for help or recognise that people around them have skills that they can draw on, and become suspicious of the intent of others. It goes without saying this can become very toxic to the individual and the team or organisation if not addressed. 

On the flip side where there is a perceived trusting work environment the language starts to change. Individuals in trusting environments admit their weaknesses and when they have made a mistake, they don't fear the repercussions of speaking up. They accept feedback more willingly and are more likely to ask for help, through recognising that those around them have other skills which are useful to them and are generally more willing to take action to move their performance forward. 

Lencioni sees TRUST as one of the most important building blocks to leading a team out of dysfunction. 

This interesting article from Harvard Business Review provides insights into the neuroscience of trust which adds real value to the understanding of what happens in the brain when people interact, and how you can go about creating a trusting environment.

They identified 8 leadership behaviours which develop trust;

  • Recognise excellence
  • Induce “challenge stress" - make sure it is an attainable challenge though.
  • Give people discretion in how they do their work
  • Enable job crafting - individuals choose what they work on and therefore are more invested in the outcome. Job titles become irrelevant when individuals are involved in work which has meaning to them?
  • Share information broadly
  • Intentionally build relationships
  • Facilitate whole-person growth
  • Show vulnerability - I like this one. Leaders in trusting organisations ask people for their input, advice, rather than just telling them what to do!

To develop a trusting environment, you need to show your vulnerability - then people will be open with you. When did you last show your human side?

Do it now.