Leaders Provide Real Trust-Building

In a recent team-development session, we made some important growth happen. Growing as a team isn’t arbitrary, and it doesn’t happen without real, hard work. And it especially doesn’t happen when the team lacks vulnerability-based trust. As with building trust in any type of relationship, trust doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, building trust is a relationship-long process that requires daily effort, sacrifice, and choice.

When I’m asked to do a team-development session, my goal is to get the team on the right track so they can continue the hard work of trust-building after I leave. But I cover a lot of ground in the initial session, because in order to get a team to start trusting each other, the first step is to unpack the distrust. In the session I mentioned above, we did one easy, practical activity that helped pave the way to building trust.

Here’s what happened:

We stretched the team’s ability to be vulnerable by declaring a need for help.

We practiced the art of taking action.

We went around the room and answered these questions:

  • What is one thing you need help with, and who in this room could offer that?
  • What is one thing you could help someone else in this room with?

Then, we took a break, but before leaving the room, everyone had to pull up their calendars, and schedule meetings with the person they offered help to and with the people who had offered them assistance.

This work built vulnerability in the moment, because team members had to admit imperfection and accept help in front of their teammates. We also scheduled vulnerability by putting the longer—and maybe tougher—one-on-one working conversation into everyone’s calendar.

Now, it’s the job of leadership to check in with everyone and ask how those conversations went.

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion or a team-development meeting to do this activity. 

You can do it this week. Try it, and let me know how it goes!

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