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Why is Everyone Talking About Trust (Again?)

We are emerging into the post pandemic world. Hopefully. I've been seeing more about the Speed of Trust in the last month than the last five years. We are all seeing this articles because it is more relevant than ever. In my building team dynamics and synergy work, it always starts with Trust. Do you or don't you? The assessment is forever fluid, and can change quickly depending on the perceptions of previous interactions, the consistency and duration of the relationship, and the impact of the current situation. Just to name a few.

Before innovation and effective operational performance can be optimized, Trust must be present, nurtured, and continuously reaffirmed. If Trust is hesitant, your team and business results will likely be sporadic. If mistrust has taken hold, prepare yourself for work arounds, beauracrocy, and turnover.

How is Trust Built?

Like much else, Trust is built and sustained, or inadvertently sabotaged by leaders. How can this heavy mantle be on the shoulders of one person amongst 5 team members? 10? 25? 100? 500? Because leaders set the tone and expectations around behaviors. And it is behaviors, not promises, not words, that ultimately builds and maintains Trust. Not only do leaders need to clearly set Trust expectations, they must also hold themselves and others Accountable. Without a culture of accountability, Trust will likely erode due to situational stress, lack of shared beliefs, and just plain old personality conflicts.

What are the Core Tenets of Trust?

Early in my workshops with teams, I find it helpful to conduct an exercise that asks participants to define what creates Trust. The responses are always nearly identical across industry, age, and socio-economic background:

  1. You consistently do (act) what you say.

  2. (Your words and actions) do not put me (or others) in harms way.

Every time the answers fit underneath those two categories. Every time.

What Must Leaders Do to Build a Culture of Trust?

  1. Talk about trust. Often. Talk about what it means and doesn't mean.

In team meetings, talk about the importance of members keeping each other informed of key updates. Personify this by asking them to think about a time when they didn't have information and it caused an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation with a client or co-worker. This is just one example, there are hundreds in your business.

  1. Proactively use upcoming situations to teach what behaviors support.

  2. Recognize individuals for taking the initiative to directly communicate with others.

  3. Coach all individuals involved with situations where undermining trust behaviors occur.

Patrick Lencioni has made millions on Trust being the foundation of his 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team pyramid. You can use this concept to multiply both your intrinsic and monetary successes too!


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