4 Pillars of Team Trust

How much trust occupies your workplace?

The predominant factor impeding cohesion and performance for most organizations is the lack of trust. In fact, the absence of trust is the #1 team killer. In his popular book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” author Pat Lencioni features the absence of trust as the core dysfunction among underperforming teams. It serves as the bedrock to all team functionality, dynamics, and collaboration. In fact, he states “Teamwork begins by building trust.” The significance of trust in the workplace is truly invaluable and should not be taken lightly.

American Businessman, Bill McDermott describes trust as the ultimate human currency. His statement couldn’t be truer. Trust is the most precious resource in our organizations and among our teams. Furthermore, its power and potential are equally matched by its fragility. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “Trust takes years to build and seconds to break and forever to repair.” Leaders who neglect trust invite disaster. On the contrary, leaders who cultivate trust invite prosperity. Simply put: everyone wins when trust increases!

In this action article, I want to briefly unpack the Four Pillars of Trust and how you can strengthen them in your organization. So let’s dive in!

Four Pillars of Trust

Pillar #1 - Integrity

Who you are is more important than what you do. Studies reveal that half of the people who leave their jobs, do so, because of working for or with bad leaders or co-workers. While competency certainly plays a factor in this employee exodus, we cannot discount the importance of personal character. No one wants to work for or with a bad leader or team member.

When surveyed about what qualities employees desired the most from their leaders, honesty continually makes the top of the list. Employees want leaders they can trust. Leaders must prioritize honesty, authenticity, and integrity. Virtues, values, and valor matter. Who you are when no one is watching is vital. The purity of your motives, the process of your decisions, and the consistency of your actions will be observed and noted in the workplace.​

  • Accountability: How do you, intentionally, develop your character? When was the last time you sought 360 degree feedback about how others experience you?

Pillar #2 - Dependability

“In a healthy organization, dependability trumps personality every time!” These were the words uttered to me during my performance review from a leader I greatly admired. In fact, I credit these words as the catalyst that revolutionized my personal productivity, execution, and leadership. Up unto this point in my career, I had solely relied on my personality and ability to get along with my peers and co-workers to carry me through my profession. Unfortunately, my trust bank was draining at an alarming pace among my team because of my inability to follow through. It crushed me to realize this and I allowed it to catapult me into a professional transformation. In fact, I spent well over a year (and thousands of dollars) pursuing coaching and resources needed to optimize my reliability as a leader. While I still have plenty of room to grow, I am proud of who I am now and what I have to offer to my team and organization.

While integrity is the most important pillar for trust, competency is a very close second. Leaders must prioritize their ability to get the right things done and to see their tasks to completion. Follow through and dependability put your teammates at ease. Remember, personal competence fosters communal confidence.​

  • Accountability: What personal systems do you have in place to ensure follow through? How do you plan to grow in your productivity skills over the next five years?

Pillar #3 - Philanthropy

Today’s workforce is radically different from yesteryear. Emerging leaders and professionals expect their organizations (and leaders) to display a global mindset, appreciation for diversity, empathy, and acts of compassion. While some leaders might view this as a deviation from “true” business or organizational leadership, it actually can be leveraged to add tremendous value to the culture of one’s organization. Benevolence, compassion, and serving others are powerful boosters for building trust. Not to mention, they inspire others to repeat these positive behaviors.

People take pride in philanthropic leaders. In fact, if you were to survey the most admired leaders from our history, the far majority share the same common threading - philanthropy. The world needs heroic leadership. Remember, heroic leaders are not larger than life people. Rather, they are normal individuals who have the humility to serve and help others.​

  • Accountability: Do you have the reputation of being a philanthropic leader? Have you developed the habit and response of quickly helping others?

Pillar #4 - Connectivity

Studies show that people will work in unpleasant conditions performing difficult tasks while earning lousy salaries...as long as they feel personally connected to their co-workers and leaders. While I’m not an advocate of maintaining lousy conditions or paying unfair wages, this fact should be deeply considered among our leaders today. Fostering community in the workplace should be one of the top priorities of leaders in all contexts.

Making personal investments, forging relationships, and creating opportunities for involvement are paramount if you want to build a connecting culture. Connecting cultures build trusting teams. Leaders who practice engagement and visibility produce trust and vulnerability. Not to mention, focusing on improving connectivity in the workplace becomes a very meaningful conversation and initiative between your human resources department and executive leadership teams. Everyone levels up when everyone leans in!

  • Accountability: Who are the people you know on a personal level in your workplace? How do you champion connectivity?

Trust is the foundation of your organization.

Without it, everything will collapse.” - Curtis Prunty

Be a better leader this week than you were last week!

Join the conversation

  • Which pillar is the weakest among your team or in your workplace?

  • What steps can you take this week to strengthen that trust pillar?

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