The Role of Trust in High Performing Teams

How do you know you can’t trust someone?

My approach – and how I coach others – is to always assume that people are naturally creative, resourceful and whole. To begin from a place of trust.

Many people believe that trust has to be earned. And I agree. So why would I say to start from trust? It’s because I believe that it’s the maintenance of trust that must be earned. I also believe that if we treat people with distrust right from the start, we give them no reason to be loyal, honest or trusting with us.

Trust always creates more trust. Start from trust and go from there.

So, if you’re starting from trust, how do you know if it’s being earned? How can you know that your trust isn’t being taken advantage of?

Firstly, there’s more trust. This time, it’s to trust your gut. Tune into your body; your intuition. We often sense things before we have a logical explanation or “proof.” Check in with that part of yourself and get curious. What’s causing your feelings of distrust? Is this your inner Saboteur coming up, telling you that you can’t trust others, or is there a genuine concern rooted in past behaviors?

If you determine that there is a genuine concern, adopt an approach of curiosity. Commit to having the difficult conversations that might need to be had. That may sound like, “I have some concerns because of an issue that came up a while back. Can we talk it through?” or “I’m feeling uncertain about this upcoming project. The stakes are high and I want to be sure we’re on the same page. Can we talk this afternoon?” Approach with curiosity and an open mind. Maintain the assumption that everyone is naturally creative, resourceful and whole, that they want to do a good job, and that your role as leader is to support them.

Remember that you can only ever control your approach – your intentions, decisions, reactions and so on. You cannot control outcomes, including how others choose to show up.

The truth is that, without hard evidence, we can’t truly know if someone is trustworthy or not. What we do know is that we have a greater chance of connecting with others, having a positive influence, and cultivating cultures of mutual trust and respect when we start with trust.I can’t say this enough: trust always brings more trust. Professional relationships are different, in many ways, from our personal relationships. Yet, they can be just as impactful to our overall well-being, given the amount of time and energy we spend at work. Trust matters in these relationships. Without trust – on all sides – we can never fully step into the full spectrum of our brilliance, strength and uniqueness. The very things that make us thrive at work and help teams and organizations continually take themselves to the next level.

If you would like guidance, for yourself or your team, in cultivating higher levels of trust, I invite you to connect with me.

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