I will openly admit that I’ve been on a Patrick Lencioni kick with my business reading of late. One of the best gifts I received this year was a copy of The Truth About Employee Engagement, which sent me down a path of reading every Lencioni book I could find. After reading this gem I read The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team as part of my research in building a leadership development curriculum. Lencioni just makes business concepts so digestible and provides frameworks for organizational change that are easily accessible. I say all that to ultimately introduce a key component of healthy organizations, because there are some unhealthy ones out there for sure.
The foundation for a healthy organization is a culture of trust. Trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In business, trust encompasses a few things:
- Anticipating the emotional effects that decisions and actions might have on others
- Responding tactfully and respectfully in emotional situations
- Eliciting the perceptions, feelings, and concerns of others
- Recognizing that conflict is inevitable and using it to strengthen relationships
Why does trust matter so much? Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. And you guessed it, trust starts at the top with the CEO and their executive team. If this team doesn’t trust one another, no one does. When trust doesn’t exist the effects lead to an unhealthy organization, including a lack of commitment, lack of engagement, lack of respect, higher attrition, and a focus on the negative.
The economics of trust are clear. High trust organizations are higher performing and see greater profits from retaining their employees. Indeed, Gallup’s article “Why Some Leaders Have Their Employees’ Trust, and Some Don’t” highlights that “employees who trust their leadership are twice as likely to say they will be with their company one year from now. Additionally, even when there are periodic mistakes in decisions or communication, employees will give leaders the benefit of the doubt.” But trust doesn’t just happen if it’s left to chance, it’s something that takes time and effort.
I’ll point to Patrick Lencioni and Stephen Covey when it comes to how to build trust amongst a team and I rely on their methods in my work. I can’t emphasize the importance of the critical component of culture that is trust and how it must be engrained in an organization in order for it to succeed. Organizations must extend trust in order for it to be reciprocated. They must extend it to those who are earning it with their actions and to those who have earned it. They must not withhold trust because of the risk involved in doing so, for this is where the most magnificent growth happens.