Building High Performing Teams – Trust Yourself First
Early on in my own leadership development journey I was asked “how do you build trust?”. This simple reflective question had me stumped. I really couldn’t articulate it, I mean Trust is a feeling, right? I had established and maintained trusting relationships, not only at work but in my personal life. So, I could do it, I just had no awareness of how I did it. To help me understand this better I reflected on why I trusted people around me and the reasons varied from the way they supported me, the fun I had when I was with them to skills and experience they possessed. These were all things that I knew them for. So, what am I known for? When I asked some trusted people this very question and challenged them to be honest and not withholding I was little surprised, a tad flattered and a had a healthy dose of confronting fear. Of course I focused on the negative and skipped over the positive (but this post isn’t about that). How can I be viewed in this way when my intent is so different?
Here is where I made the connection (or separation) between intent and behaviour. The impact I intended to have wasn’t always received the same way and my behaviour could be perceived in a contradictory way. Somewhere along the way I stumbled across this saying, “say what you think and do what you say”. This simple phrase has helped me to become more purposeful when working in teams. It is a personal value that I share and hope to be held accountable to, and yes, I do slip up from time to time. I soon came to realise that as I slipped up it affected my own sense of trust. The trust I had in myself, or self-trust. How could I hold someone accountable to something I couldn’t hold myself accountable to? How can I trust others when I really only trusted myself sometimes? In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey articulates this much better than I can and I strongly recommend the read.
So, how does this relate to building a high performing team? Well, for teams to collaborate and generate new solutions to challenges or opportunities that present to the team, members need to feel safe, they need to trust each other and the intentions of the other team members. They need to trust that the team is aligned on the same goals and that success is achieved together and not for any one individual. As Patrick Lencioni so accurately defined, teams are built on a foundation of trust. Before we can look to others in a trusting relationship we need to understand our own relationship with trust. That is, how do you trust yourself? For me, it goes back to my personal value and doing what I say I am going to do, and when I fail to follow through this chips away at my own self trust.
By starting with what we can control, ourselves. We can build up our self-trust, be aware of how we hold trust, be purposeful in building trusting relationships and start to form the critical basis to any high performing team.
This blog is the second part of a series on building high performing teams, you can read the first post, Building High Performing Teams - Collaborate or Delegate.