“Truth accelerates trust.” – Joseph Grenny.
As organizations grow, trust becomes an issue that you see bubble up from time to time. It doesn’t matter if you are developing a small business or a specific division within a large company, trust is always something that takes time to grow alongside your organization.
It may help to think about it in terms of a sports team. When you have just a couple of people in your organization, you will operate like a track and field relay team. You have four great sprinters that all need to show up and use their individual gifts and strengths, collaborating just a tiny fraction of the time for the baton hand-off. If everyone is “on” that day and the hand-offs go smoothly, you can win the race.
Growing as One
The next level of growth looks more like a basketball team. You have five players on the court at all times with a full bench of support players. You may have a few all-stars and moments where you see great individual performances, but in order to win, your team must collaborate. On offense, the team must run plays together. While on defense, you have to trust that if an opposing player gets by you, a teammate is not far behind to pick them off. It doesn’t matter how great a player you are as an individual, without an excellent team surrounding you, your organization will not win.
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Eventually, a business will get to the point where it begins to look like a hockey team. This type of organization is moving so fast that your level of trust needs to be high enough accommodate the quick decision making that is required. The players are coming on and off the ice in waves, knowing that when one player is coming on, another player is getting off. Somebody always has your back, and when you’re vulnerable, others are looking out for your best interests.
Trust Doesn’t Appear Overnight
Trust like this develops over time. We have to learn how to transform the track stars into great basketball teammates, and then into even better hockey players. We have to teach our “athletes” different skills as we grow to remain successful.
As leaders, we have to be intentional about creating a culture of trust. We have to make sure that our team members interact with each other outside of the boardroom. That is one of the reasons why, at Southwest Michigan First, we move our offices around. This is why we play kickball or paint canvases on a Friday afternoon: We are intentionally crafting an environment that fosters appreciation and trust. We need to understand that we are not competing against each other in traditional ways of “climbing the corporate ladder.” We are working together to meet our mission around the belief that the greatest force for change is a job.
Question: What can you do to encourage a culture of trust in your team?