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Have you ever been a part of a “healthy team”?
Think of all the teams you’ve been a part of over the course of your life: sports teams, academic teams, work teams, leadership teams, families, service teams, study teams, travel teams. The list goes on.
When you think back, what was the “healthiest team” you were ever a part of? Can you articulate what it was about the team that made it so exceptional?
I’ve been a part of a couple of teams over the course of my life that have been incredible. I’ve also been on a number of teams that have been a real struggle and not a lot of fun.
If I were to try to pinpoint what made a team better than another one, it all comes down to “trust.” Teams that engage in trust as a foundational aspect of their function, enjoy greater success and greater team member engagement.
Patrick Lencioni, in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, talks about five key aspects of any team:
- A Foundation of Trust
His book dives deeper into each of these categories, but he basically summarizes his thoughts with this quote.
The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage.
Lencioni states that when team members have the courage to build trust and make themselves vulnerable, it lays a foundation for a team, and it changes everything else that comes from that team.
As I think back to the teams that I was a part of, trust played a huge part in them. We were a team that did some important things together:
- We spent time together, outside of our work environment.
- We shared our lives: the good, the bad, and the tough. We were vulnerable and that helped us develop genuine care for each other.
- We engaged in conflict. Because we had a solid foundation of trust, conflict was a positive thing and it made our team and organization better because we weren’t afraid to speak the truth and even disagree.
- We had each other’s backs. While we didn’t always agree, we were committed to each other and we supported and stood up for each other, especially when others weren’t around.
- We liked each other. We actually enjoyed the time we had together and made it a priority.
- We weren’t afraid to fail and we took risks, together. We knew we had the support of each other, so this gave us extra confidence.
Here’s the reality:
You can make any team you’re a part of better! Here are four simple steps:
- Make the team a priority. Let them know that they are important and that you value each of them.
- Define the goals and purpose of the team. Let them know why they are on this team and what you expect from them and what you hope to accomplish.
- Model vulnerability. If you want to build trust, you as the leader need to start. Show them how it’s done.
- Invest time into the team. Nurture relationships, in and out of the workplace. The more time you spend with people, the deeper the trust is developed.
Don’t settle to be a part of team that isn’t functioning to its capacity. Make the changes.
If you’re not the one in charge, then approach the leader and offer to help.
Being a part of a healthy team makes all the difference!
Have you been a part of an unhealthy team? What were the traits you noticed that made it unhealthy? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.