Through trust we team

In this blog we continue our exploration of what it is to be an effective team

Last week I titled this blog “In teams we trust”. This week I have changed the words around a bit to position trust as a key enabler of effective team-ship.

Lencioni (2002) posits trust as the foundation of a team effectiveness pyramid rising successively through the capacity for challenge, collective commitment, mutual accountability and a focus on results.

Strength through vulnerability

The sort of trust I am talking about here is the readiness to open up without fear of being taken advantage of in some way. To share hopes and fears, ask for help, admit mistakes, apologise and expose skills gaps.

Difficult in environments characterised by big egos, competition and fear. Yet possible.

Getting real with one another

We facilitated a leadership team retreat in the Brecon Beacons. The brief was to help develop their resilience ahead of a corporate restructure. In essence the task was to help develop trust and collaboration where competition was the norm.

And so, over two nights and two days we created a light appreciative inquiry-based framework within which the team got to know themselves and one another as real people. Communal bunkhouse living and the outdoors enactment of a collaborative storyline allowed the team to really meet itself for the first time.

“We have had conversations here that we could never have had back in the workplace.”

“I remember the moment clearly, the moment when I started experiencing my colleagues as real people; people I wanted to be with, to really engage with, to lead the business with. Up until then we had been kidding ourselves that we were a leadership team!”

Sparking and igniting

For sure, the team has a path yet to travel. However, the spark of self and collective awareness ignited the start of some powerful listening, disclosure and respect.

There are other tools and techniques to help build the foundations of trust in teams. Whatever approach is used, it does need someone to step forward and invite others to explore the courageous notions of trust and vulnerability.

Could that be you?


Dave Stewart
The Fresh Air Learning Company