Simply defined, trust is the belief that someone or something is reliable, honest, and effective.

We tend to throw the word around, but what is the true foundation of trust? We are told to trust others, but how do we go about it, and how do we rebuild when trust is broken? How can we trust our co-workers when we are all so different, and have endured our own personal and workplace battles? Our differences can completely change our views on trust. We are similar in that we have all experienced situations that have affected trust in a relationship. We can’t help but remember the rainy days of our past, thus carrying them into our new conditions. Sometimes, even when the sun is out, we are on standby waiting for the storms. Many call it baggage, I like to call it an opportunity for growth. How we go about trusting others is a direct reflection of the trust we have within ourselves. If you do not trust your own judgments, actions, and decisions, you will question the motives of others. Trust can only happen when we are willing to be completely open with each other and ourselves. Trust has two different aspects: Predictive vs. Vulnerability-based.

“There are many reasons teams fail. There’s one proven way to help them succeed.”

Patrick Lencioni

In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni  speaks of predictive vs. vulnerability based trust. Predictive trust comes naturally with time. It says that you and I have worked together long enough or have known each other for a certain amount of time that unsurprisingly we have predictive trust in each other. If I say this, more than likely you will do that. This type of trust which stems from consistent observation is great, but it’s not the kind of trust that builds a great team.

Fall Exercise

Lean how to trust though The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.

Vulnerability based trust, as defined by Lencioni, is “the willingness of people on a team to be vulnerable and human with one another.” When a co-worker says “I don’t know the answer to this,” or “I’ve made a mistake,” or “I’m sorry for what I said to you yesterday, it was uncalled for,” you are experiencing true vulnerability based trust. You should handle these interactions with respect and great care. When you can be completely honest with your colleagues and the team knows that everyone is capable of this, incredible things happen. The team comes together in all their vulnerabilities to work as a unit and  turn those weaknesses into strengths. Vulnerability based trust takes teams to higher levels of greatness, allowing you to gain a true competitive advantage.

I know, trusting someone in such a vulnerable way seems easier said than done. Just remember there is power in reaching that place where there is true confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good. When you know there is no reason to be protective or cautious around each other, something miraculous happens. Take a moment to imagine a work environment with complete trust in each other. It’s possible. Getting comfortable with being transparent and open isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. Team development programs like The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team will give your team profound insights into themselves and their colleagues. Learn how to build a great team with the important foundation of trust and understanding.

It won’t be easy, but nothing worth having ever is. Well, unless you win the lottery, which seems pretty straight forward and easy to me. But as tantalizing as that seems, building trust with your team members just might be the real jackpot. ♠

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