How to Build Teams that Trust Each Other

I asked top leaders to respond to three questions:

  • What three words describe a great team?
  • What three problems hinder great teamwork?
  • What three things do great teams habitually do?

They wrote about trust, communication, ego, alignment, and more.

Successful teams are the result of leadership, not luck.

You’ve felt the pain of teams that struggle. If you’re fortunate, you’ve felt the joy of being part of a great team.

Great teams trust each other.

One leader wrote, “Great teams habitually do little things that build and reinforce trust.” Another leader wrote, “Make it safe for people to say what they actually think.”

Team members build trust when they:

#1. Make and keep commitments.

Trust is depending on someone to keep their commitments.

Confusion about commitments destroys teams.

When you don’t know the commitments of others, you give yourself permission to judge them by the expectations you impose on them.

Unclear commitments produce distrust, backstabbing, and gossip.

How to clarify commitments:

At the end of team meetings, ask, “What are your commitments?” If people have multiple commitments, ask them to rank them in order of importance.

Alternative question, “What’s your number one commitment as a result of today’s meeting?”

Anyone who consistently leaves team meetings without a commitment is irrelevant to the team.

#2. Know strengths, weaknesses, and passions.

It’s foolish and frustrating to expect performance out of weakness. You can trust people to perform well where they’re strong and passionate and poorly where they’re weak and don’t care.

You can’t trust someone who consistently drops the ball.

Consistent ball-droppers:

  1. Hope for performance from weakness.
  2. Don’t feel passionate about their responsibilities, goals, and tasks.
  3. Over-commit to pleasing people.
  4. Are on the wrong team.

Everyone on the team needs to know the top three strengths and weaknesses of everyone on the team.

How might you respond to the the three questions at the top of this post?

How might teams build trust?

Bonus material:

VIA Strength Assessment (VIA) – Free

The Best Ways to Build Trust within a Team (BKpub) – Article

What it Takes to Build Trust on a Team (TLNT) – Article

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Lencioni) – Book

The Fearless Organization (Edmondson) – Book