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Creating high-trust teams takes a courageous leader

Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision…

Have you ever set clear expectations with your team about who you are and what you need? …Don’t worry you’re not the only one!

The importance of being completely transparent with who you are to the point where people are not left wondering or guessing, makes a difference to how your team is going to perform and how they will collaborate with you as a leader.

Stephen Covey explains that in every interaction – explicitly or implicitly, understood or not understood … there are expectations. And the degree to which these expectations are met or violated affects ‘trust’. In order to achieve results, you need to make sure that everyone is clear on what needs to be achieved and the related expectations. Doing this at the outset stops a lot of potential problems.

Team members feel a whole lot better with themselves when they know what they are doing, that’s a fact! Asking others to have your needs met may feel uncomfortable at first … But, as a matter of fact, if you lead by example, and be very clear about your needs, you are actually giving permission to others to speak openly about their needs.

It’s a needs conversation. I am sure we have all experienced what that’s like when you have a leader that is straight to the point, where they let you know what they like and what they don’t like, and they let you know how they like to be communicated to, for example, they may prefer a face-to-face conversation over an email.

There will be no surprises…

Create and define the rules of engagement to clarify what the expected behaviours are for everyone.

Having a clear structure outlining who is responsible for what, drives accountability, and gives team members clarity about their roles. They are confident on what decisions need to be made because they understand their purpose and the associated expectations.

In saying that, the leader also needs to show that they care, show a humanistic side so it doesn’t come across that it’s all about them. They too must model and demand accountability, be vulnerable and demonstrate that they trust and believe in their team.

By setting clear expectations, one must also consider the expectations of their team members. As a leader ask your team what they like, what they dislike, how do they like to be communicated with, and how do they like to be lead.

Getting everyone on board with their expectations builds trust and you can do that by holding a listening session where you could all collectively map out this ‘one’ team intention document. And of course everyone has to agree with it, one for all and all for one, this way there are never any surprises.

What good are wings without the courage to fly…

Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s when you are scared but you jump in and do it anyway.

These days it’s key to ask your team for feedback, ask them to challenge you when they don’t agree with something and make sure they have a big WHY as part of the conversation.

It doesn’t stop there … make sure they challenge each other too. It’s super healthy to give each other feedback for growth and expanding the mindset. This way everyone is free to challenge ideas at all levels and are encouraged to come up with respectful solutions as a replacement of an idea. It’s important as the leader to focus on the collective as a result. When team members feel safe they will open up a lot more than if they were not heard or their ideas taken seriously. They just will shut down and stop contributing.

The modern leader involves everyone in the decision-making process so that everyone takes ownership and acclaim when things go right, just as quickly as they will put their hand up if something goes wrong. Trusted leaders work on sharing – in other words if we win, we win together, not as individuals … creating a sense of unity. Unity is oneness of purpose and it must be of the mind and heart, where everyone has a sense of belonging.

There is always a way if you are committed…

The only way to get your team on board and 100% committed is to ask them, how are we going to achieve the best results as ‘one’ team. By allowing them to openly discuss and do a brainstorming session on how they will best work together, helps everyone achieve the goal, where they share the commitments evenly. And because they came up with the ideas, it will drive motivation to succeed as a whole, where they share ownership on the task at hand.

You can do this by probing them with questions like;

  • What are our values and how can we bring them to life as a collective?
  • What are our strengths and talents that we can all bring to the team to make a meaningful difference?
  • What is our vision and our aspiration for change?
  • How will we collectively collaborate to execute the change?
  • What are the resources available to us today to make it happen?
  • What are our shared collective goals and our ultimate purpose behind this change?
  • What does success look like and how are we going to measure it?
  • What steps must we take to get to our destination?
  • How will we hold ourselves accountable and which piece will you own?
  • What are the obstacles and challenges that could get in our way?
  • What is our game plan if things go off-course and what is the biggest impact we are going to collectively focus on?
  • How are we going to make a difference in our approach?
  • What are our deliverables for a successful outcome?

Building a ‘high-trust team’ is a journey. It begins with the leader being really clear on what behaviours are required to improve team performance. It takes time and commitment. And … you can do it with a little courage.