Maybe it’s because of the elections but every time I open a paper or magazine at the moment there seems to be an article about trust. Whether a columnist having another (justified) rant about bankers or politicians, or Simon Barnes, the Chief Sports writer for The Times, with his take on Jose Mourinho just after his team beat Barcelona, previously judged to be the best team in the world.
He goes on to talk about coaches and their role in great success stories: Sir Alf Ramsey’s refusal to drop Stiles during the 1966 World Cup at the risk of losing his own job; Sir Clive Woodward on the 1998 world tour paying for a decent hotel for the team in Cape Town; Bill Sweetenham turning round the fortunes of the Great Britain swimming team from flops in Sydney to winning six medals in Beijing. All these he puts down to belief, and trust – absolute mutual trust.
In an earlier post; “Do you trust your boss?“, I referred to research and articles which showed a very low level of trust in bosses, possibly because of the MPs’ expenses scandal. This is potentially catastrophic for organisations as we come out of recession but still face face massive spending cuts and higher taxes, regardless of which party wins the election.
In his book; “The 5 dysfunctions of Teams (Josey Bass)”, Patrick Lencioni makes a persuasive argument that to be an effective team its members first need to have absolute trust in each other and are able to set aside personal agendas for the greater good of the team. Put simply Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions model goes like this:
- Absence of Trust: team members need to trust each other on a fundamental, emotional level where they are comfortable being open with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears and behaviours. This is important because
- Fear of conflict: … teams that trust one another are not afraid to engage in passionate debate about key issues. They are not afraid to challenge, disagree, or question each other in order to make great decisions. This is important because
- Lack of commitment: … teams that engage in unfiltered conflict are able to achieve genuine buy-in around decisions even though they might initially disagree. Team members see that every option has been considered . This is critical because:
- Avoidance of Accountability: … teams that commit to decisions and standards of performance don’t hesitate to hold each other accountable for those decisions. And they don’t rely on the team leader to do that but go straight to their peers. This matters because
- Inattention to results: …teams that trust one another engage in conflict, commit to decisions, and hold each other accountable are more likely to put aside their individual agendas and focus on what is best for the team. They don’t put their departmental politics, career aspirations, or need for status to get in the way of team results that lead to success.
He doesn’t pretend it is easy and developing trust in the first place can be a big ask if you are used to working in a highly competitive environment or a blame culture, where feedback from peers is not the norm. But what is the alternative if you work in an organisation which needs real teams ie groups of people who are interdependent rather than a set of individuals who just happen to report to the same boss but do their own thing?
Most people like working in teams as they provide support and a social context to work but effective teamwork doesn’t just happen without leaders who provide support and resources – and who can be trusted!