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The 5 Building Blocks of Trust

(posted: September 26th, 2016)

As a leader, one of the best things you can do for your organization, firm, or company, is to create highly-functioning, effective teams.

Solid, collaborative teams are the only real stay against change, enabling an organization to weather tough times. They provide one of your best competitive advantages, especially when the economy, the stock market and work environments in general are unstable and in flux.

To quote Patrick Lencioni, author and creator of the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team:

"Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare."

There are several key elements that go into developing these kinds of teams, and I'll talk more about them in future posts, but the foundation for any great team has to be trust.

But...What is Trust?

Trust among team members is critical for successful teamwork, but what are we talking about when we talk about trust?

Lencioni likes to say that there are two kinds of trust: "predictive" trust, which basically means that you can trust people to behave consistently or to do what they say they will, and "vulnerability-based" trust, which means people are open and honest with each other.

The 5 Building Blocks of Trust

1.) Honesty & Integrity
Do you tell the truth? Do you keep your word and behave with integrity? Honesty may be the most important dimension of trust. Are you honest in your conversations? Do you find it difficult to give feedback? Giving constructive feedback can be one of those areas where it's difficult to be frank, even with your best intentions, yet people need to know they can count on you to tell them the truth. Do you live your values and/or the company's values?

2.) Keep Your Promises; Reliability
When you follow through it increases believability, which helps to build trust. It lets others know they can rely on you. As a leader, can people depend on you? Will you show up when you are supposed to? Will you provide the support, direction, and resources that are needed? Be responsive to requests and hold yourself accountable and you will establish a track record of results. Avoid excuses, rationalizing, and blaming others when things go wrong and you will make yourself a trustworthy colleague and leader.

3.) Motive
Are you genuinely concerned for the well-being of others? When we believe someone genuinely cares about our well-being, we are willing to open our hearts and become vulnerable. This dives deeply into trust and is not to be taken lightly. If you are in a leadership role, do you have people's best interest in mind? Do you see them as individuals, and do you really care about their well-being? If you demonstrate true concern, your teammates will trust your actions and decisions.

4.) Ability & Competence
Do you know what you're doing? If someone hires you to do a job, they want to be assured you know what youíre doing and are capable of doing the job well. If you are in a leadership role, do you understand the role of leadership and are you capable of leading your team toward success?

5.) Authentic Connection
Every single relationship has an emotional component, even work relationships, and this is critical to building trust. Connecting authentically lets people know you care about them as more than just their job title. Work on connecting with your team by demonstrating empathy, which is communicating that you understand the others person's situation. Listen well, ask about your colleagues interests, and share yours. When leaders take the initiative to demonstrate empathy and encourage others to do the same, team members form stronger bonds.

Building real connection within a team involves taking some risks and can seem awkward at first. Try these small steps with your team:

  • Share your feelings, not just the sports scores or the latest budget issue.
  • Show empathy; put yourself in your colleagues' seats
  • Have non-work conversations
  • Be accessible and open, not just available

Patrick Lencioni reminds us:

"The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage."

If you practice the building blocks of trust, if you are honest, keep your word, show concern for others, are capable, and connect genuinely, you will gain trust in return. How courageous are you willing to be?

Be courageous. Be vulnerable, open, honest, clear. Be trustworthy.

Challenge Yourself
  • As a leader, how are you mentoring and growing trust within your team?
  • Which of these steps have you used to increase trust on your own team?
  • What other ways have you found that enhance trust in your teams?
  • Which of your own experiences can you share around teams and trust?

Let's talk about your teams! Patrick Lencioni and Wiley have created a great new tool, the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Teamô, that is DiSC-based and helps you to build a high-performing team. Contact me and lets explore how we can increase your team effectiveness!

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