Trust is a human bond: it is the foundation of any team’s dynamics, whether in sport or in an organization. In order to trust – to rely entirely on someone other than ourself, and therefore to surrender oneself– there are a few prerequisites. One must believe in the good intention of others, in their abilities, in their benevolence. Otherwise, could one fully trust? It is not surprising that trust is fragile, sometimes so hard to gain and so easy to lose. What is your impact, as a leader, on your team climate? How could you build and nurture trust to fully collaborate as ONE team? Where could that lead you?
Be aware of your impact on your team
I interviewed Manon Brouillette, former President and CEO of Videotron, a Québecor company who said : ‘’ When we become a leader, the pebble that we ‘hold and represent’ makes a circle when thrown in the water that is as big as your team. When you become a more senior leader in the organization, the rock that you ‘hold and represent’ when thrown in the water creates an even bigger circle whether we are conscious about it or not. ‘’
In other words, the leader creates the rules of the game and nurtures (or not!) a good climate within the team. A Korn Ferry / Hay Group study published in 2016 shows that:
70% of the variation in team climate can be explained by the manager’s conduct.
The same study reassures us that no one is born a “good leader’’, knowing how to create a harmonious work atmosphere, knowing exactly what your role in the team is and demonstrating highly adapted leadership skills.
What is required of a leader is not perfection (have you noticed how that doesn’t exist!), but constant attention to the dynamics of the team, and an approach adapted to its needs. We will therefore focus on this aspect: How, as a leader, can we create a climate of trust within our team?
Identify your team’s level of trust
In my opinion, trust, can be divided into various categories. From lack of trust to reliance, many nuances are possible. I present three main degrees, which will alter the team trust dynamics, and on which the attitude of the leader has a lot of influence.
1st Degree - Presenteeism: Team members are present, polite, superficial, accommodating, do not contradict each other and say what they think needs to be said. There is no trust of each other, a false harmony developed that does not reflect conversations outside the team. Everyone thinks of their own interests. We try to deal first with our own interests and to promote our own team rather than having all interests at heart. This level of trust needs to evolve as it does not generate collaboration or dedication.
2nd Degree - Collaboration: Team members can move to a second level of trust by collaborating sincerely and daring to disagree cautiously. They take stands, question each other’s ideas, especially on subjects “that don’t create controversy’’. You can rely on others, collaborate for the good of your department and others, make compromises, without completely giving up.
3rd Degree - Team Truth: Team members assume the good intention of each other. They can tell each other anything for the good and success of the team. They fearlessly address disagreements, constructive conflicts, dare “not to know”, abandon “one’s truth” and integrate all team members’ perspectives to create the “Team Truth”. It guides decisions with an analytical prism that would not have been possible individually. This is the degree of trust that you must aim for in order to fully perform as ONE team.
Solidify your team’s trust
As a manager, the more you solidify our team’s trust, less individual needs arise. More people will find their place within the team dynamic by recognizing their own value and that of other people and the team. The Team Truth will be enforced and decisions will be easier to make. How can a leader really make a difference?
- By showing vulnerability. – Letting go of our desire to be right or to achieve perfection.
- By clarifying the “destination”. – Our “destination”, our ‘’WHERE and WHY’’ our mission, our team objectives are not always clear. This allows each person to concentrate on their own personal interests. A clear team destination eliminates doubt and creates a common goal.
- By becoming aware of the impermanence of your team’s climate. – Team’s climate and trust is not permanent; it is always evolving– you have to constantly observe it and nourish it.
There will be signs of reaching your ONE Team Truth. You will notice that all issues, even the most emotional ones, can be addressed and discussed without restraint. You can exchange with passion and without presumption on simple or complex issues (i.e. identity issues). Team members will share their doubts, fears and vulnerabilities safely. Collaboration will also take shape outside formal contexts.
Here is what Manon had to share on creating One Team mindset within any team: before entering (physically or digitally) a meeting, to remove our individual hats and put on the one of the CEO and think, speak and act as One Team.
So, how do you qualify trust in your team? How can you nourish your Team Truth? When and how are you vulnerable in a team meeting? Does your team “destination” seem clear to you? How do you concentrate on the ‘’where’’ and ‘’why’’ vs the ‘’how’’?
We very rarely see teams in the third degree of trust – Team Truth. Unfortunately, we tolerate individuality and superficiality too frequently. Creating a climate in which we can surrender to the good intention of others is within the reach of all teams.
Let’s pay attention to our team dynamics, and it will be a great step towards development.
As always, I invite you to be inspired and inspire.