Monday, August 17, 2009

Building Trust

It is interesting as I work with more Executives the difficulty we have with "trusting" each other. A lot of misunderstandings, confusion and conflict results from the fact that we don't trust each other. One of my favorite books is entitled "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni.

Lencioni builds the foundation of eliminating team dysfunction by building trust. Easy to say but often very difficult for individuals and teams to accomplish. One of the critical aspects of building trust is the willingness of leaders to accept feedback openly and honestly, to make themselves "vulnerable" to each other.

One of the best leaders I was ever fortunate enough to work with created this "vulnerability" in every coaching session I had with him, as he continually asked "How are we doing?" By this he was asking me very directly - was he giving me enough direction, enough support and encouragement? Was there anything that he had done that had created an uncomfortable situation for me? And he meant it, because he asked this same question every time we met. When I did provide feedback on a situation that I felt could have been handled differently, he thanked me and made a note of it. He asked me to bring it to his attention again should he ever make the same mistake.

Through this simple act he earned my unwavering trust. There was nothing that he could have asked me to do that I wouldn't have given him my very best. He didn't have to tell me how to build trust, he demonstrated it in his every action.

Lencioni states that "No quality or characteristic is more important than trust." This is truly the foundation for all other leadership characteristics. Without a foundation of trust, all the leadership models and practices will not influence one person to make a difference in their behavior or their contributions.

How are you building trust with your team members?

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