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A Path to Better Teams: Trust

Leadership //

The cornerstone of any relationship is trust.

Trust enables us to know who we can count on, it lets us know who will help us overcome our weaknesses. When it comes performing together as a team, knowing who is there for us, who we can count on, is vital.

A group of people that don’t trust each other can still be considered a team, but they won’t be very effective without trust. A group of people like that will hid their mistakes and weaknesses from one another – meaning it will be difficult for the team to get better. It also means there won’t be constructive feedback being given or received.

Individuals that don’t trust one another  stick to the areas where they are most proficient – refusing to help outside their area. There’s also a ton of time wasted as people try to “keep up appearances.”

In church life this can be very detrimental because we have no idea of what is happening in the lives of teammates and won’t keep one another accountable.

Trust can flip this all on its head. Teams built on trust challenge one another, are more focused on impotant issues, and are not afraid to ask for help.

Clearly we want the people on our teams to trust each other. The most effective way to build trust is for the team to spend time together enjoying each others company. Retreats, dinners, and fun-centered outings are great for this – playing together builds trust. Time at work can count as well, but it’s easy to put in your time and not actually build trust so an effective leader will need to careful watch when trying to build trust this way.

While play time is the most effective, any way that you can help your team understand one another will be a giant boost to trust. This camp season we opened our leadership training by looking at one another’s StrengthsFinders results. We talked about how our strengths both helped an hindered us…and it helped us to have quite a bit more understanding when it came to each other’s weak points or annoying tendencies. We used StrengthsFinder, but any personality test can help facilitate conversations. I’d suggest DISC or Myers-Briggs, both of which you can find free with a quick google search.

Of course, you can try the trust fall/ropes course thing, but I think there needs to be at least a basis of trust before you try the more experiential team building exercises otherwise it turns into a silly game that many will see as a waste of time.

In closing, your job as the leader of a team is to set the standard. You should be genuine with your team as well as vulnerable. If you take the personality tests, go through yours first. If you talk personal histories, put yourself out there.

You should also go to great lengths to keep an eye on your environment, your culture. Make sure that it is one  that doesn’t punish vulnerability. Do this and you are on your way to a better team.

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About the Author

Jesse and his wife, Teri, will celebrate 20 years of marriage in May of 2012 and are raising two growing sons, Kevin and Alex. After moving from the DC metro area in 2008 they adopted a mastiff named Book and slobber became a way of life. In his spare time, you may find Jesse enjoying photography, biking, or simply watching a movie or reading. Jesse is a graduate of Cohort K from Bethel Seminary’s CFM program and serves as the Children and Family Pastor at the Evangelical Free Church of Wauconda.