3 Keys to Building Trust on Your Team

This weekend I’m teaching a couple of seminars on leadership at the Young Life Men’s Weekend in Malibu (Canada).  When you’re given the topic of “leadership,” how do you narrow it down into a one-hour seminar?  So I decided I would focus on “3 Keys to Building Trust on Your Team.”  Patrick Lencioni addresses this key team leadership facet in his Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  Lencioni explains that dysfunctional leaders and teams conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from each other out of fear and lack of trust.  So how do we develop trust on our teams.  I see three key areas:

1. Identity. Leadership begins here.  Who am I?  Am I defined by what I do or who I am?  This is crucial because so often we get our identity and esteem from what we do and how we do it.  For Christian leaders, our identity begins with who we are in Christ because of what He has done for us and in us.  If I have identity issues, I’m bound to have leadership issues.

2. Vulnerability. Am I willing to admit my weaknesses, struggles, and mistakes to the team?  If not, my team members won’t admit their weaknesses, struggles, or mistakes and we’ll never really go deeper or get real things done as a team.  Am I willing to be fully “human” with my team?  I am willing to be honest and vulnerable with them that I don’t have it all together… that there are times when I’m really not sure of the next step.  Not only does this reveal that I need their help (hence the need for team), but it also indicates that I’ll be there for them as their leader when they don’t have it all together and they’re really not sure of the next step forward.

3. Feedback. This is crucial in developing trust.  And feedback must go both ways.  As a leader, I must not only be willing to give feedback, but I must be willing to ask for feedback.  I must regularly ask my team, what can I do as a leader to be more effective?  Do you see areas of my leadership that thwart my effectiveness and potential?  What do I do as a leader that holds the team back from accomplishing what we’re called to do?  When we start to genuinely ask team members this question, it opens a whole new door of relationship and trust.

As Lencioni points out, developing trust is the foundation of decreasing dysfunction in our team and leadership.  What would you add to this list?  How have you developed trust with your team?

2 Replies to “3 Keys to Building Trust on Your Team”

  1. Just as a little background, I’ve been a leader for almost 20 years now – currently overseeing about 400 women nationwide with my home-based business. I not only train, support and recognize these women, but a part of my job is leader development. I’ve read Lencioni’s book, and would add that a big part of developing trust with a team is to be available, responsible and reliable. Do what you say you’re going to do when you said you would do it. One would think that this is a given, but you’d be surprised how rare this is! One other huge factor is honesty – which is about more than just not lying – but also not withholding information they need to be aware of. My team and my customers know that I mean what I say and I say what I mean – I don’t make promises I can’t keep or claims that aren’t true.

  2. Love this article…totally agree w/ Kay, above…when there is not fundamental honesty, then being part of a team is very difficult, and that leads to the whole “CYA” thing, of needing to document things just to cover your basis’, instead of trusting that the leader will actually follow-thru. I’ve been reading the Sticky Teams book, as well, and love it. Lastlly, Jonathan, I’m so jealous that you got your blog imported so tight to FB…I never could get it to do that when I was doing my Women’s blog…it would take people to the article IN FB, not out to the blog itself…its so much better for commenting, this way. Great blog…love it. Thanks for taking the time to do it!

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