Trust and Leadership

Have you ever read Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team? It’s a great read.

It discusses the five dysfunctions, or, to look at the flip side, the five areas of focus that leaders really need to dive into in order to make sure that they develop a high performance team.

A lot of books promote teamwork.  Every coach will preach it.  We’ve heard of the forming, storming, norming, and performing life cycle of a team. But so few people touch on how to actually promote teamwork. That’s because teamwork tends to be difficult and nebulous to attain.  It’s not as easy as just deciding to work together.

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Yes, it requires a strong leader with a vision and motivation toward a common goal, but what are those fundamental elements of a team that must be in place?

In this book, Patrick puts forth the concept that trust is that bottom line element, the bedrock of teams. In my experience, I’ve also found that this is true.

Patrick talks about trust being equivalent to vulnerability. Members of a team have to be vulnerable to one another. They have to be willing to put their ideas out there. They have to trust that by putting themselves and their ideas out there — by taking risks — that they won’t be hurt.

This sounds fluffy and even like a team-building exercise, but it’s not. It’s real and it’s pragmatic.

You have to develop trust if you want to have a high performance team, a team that has lively debate and works together to create outcomes, to solve real problems.

You have to develop trust if you want a team that holds each other accountable and is working toward a common goal.

You have to develop trust if you want a team that’s working together to achieve a vision and is not worried about self-preservation or getting into the politics that you see in so many companies today.

Be deliberate in how you develop trust in your team. Show that you can be trusted. Be vulnerable yourself. Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to admit when you make a mistake. Don’t be afraid to admit when somebody has a better idea than you do.

Trust is a powerful trait in a leader and, more importantly, a leader who can teach his team to do the same will absolutely be well on the way to creating a high performance team. Trust and leadership go hand-in-hand.

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