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Trust - The Second Principle of High Performing Teams

Trust lies at the heart of relationships and collaboration on a high performing team. Whether we’re looking at relationships between individual team members or among the full team, trust is a measure of the quality of those relationships. At Team Trek we believe trust, along with 100% Responsibility and communication, are acquirable traits, interrelated, and the foundational principles on a high performing team. All other team principles build on these three. And, while we discuss them as team principles, they are each acted on and implemented by individuals on the team. It is the process of being trustworthy and trusting others that defines who we are as a team.

Individual team members are considered trustworthy when we are confident they do what they say they will do…when they say they will do it. Team members run into trouble and are considered untrustworthy when they don’t do something they say they will do, or when they do something they didn’t announce ahead of time. We regard individual team members as trustworthy when they consistently demonstrate certain character traits. Individuals are considered trustworthy when:

  • they are caring and influence the hearts of others

  • they are candid and speak honestly about themselves and others

  • they communicate in a clear, non-fuzzy manner without hording information

  • they are competent and can be counted on to take appropriate action

  • they influence others without attempting to control them

We’re not talking about low-level trust – “I trust you to do what I tell you to do.” We’re encouraging high-level trust – “I trust you to make decisions because we share a common purpose or goal.” When there is a climate of high-level trust on a team, relationships are always stronger. People are encouraged to give more of themselves, are more engaged with the work of the team, and are more loyal. Naturally, this leads to increased productivity and a greater sense of personal fulfillment.

If being trustworthy is one side of the coin, trusting others is the other side of that same coin. It’s a simple concept: When people demonstrate they don’t trust us, we reciprocate – we don’t trust them either.

It follows that if team members are unable to trust one another, the team will not be a high performing team. When trust is lacking, team members try to do all the work themselves or they try to supervise other team members so closely they become controlling. High controlling behavior always sends a message, “I don’t trust you.”

Our clients frequently ask, “How do we get more buy-in, commitment, and discretionary effort from our employees?” The answer to this question is demonstrated through a number of simulations we conduct at Team Trek’s Learning Center. People will become actively engaged and committed to team goals when they feel included in the process and are trusted to do their jobs.

How does this transfer back to the workplace? The formula for trusting others is simple:

  • Start with trustworthy people

  • Communicate clear expectations

  • Allow people to participate in the process

  • Train people and provide necessary resources

  • Let go…and trust them to do the job

  • Coach if failures occur

  • Encourage them to try again

What is the connection between trust and leadership? The answer is simple: Exemplary leaders are trustworthy themselves and set high expectations others are trustworthy too. These highly effective leaders know the trusting others formula; they are able to let go and trust others to do their job.


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Team Trek is a world-class provider of culture transformation solutions, leadership development, and team building.


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