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Teams and Trust

As Simon Sinek says,

A team is not a group of people who work together.

A team is a group of people who trust each other.

Above all else, trust is critical for teams to be able to work together effectively. Trust is essential if our team is going to achieve creative friction. Creative friction is what all teams should strive for and is characterized by the productive exchange of diverse ideas and opinions in a focused and unfiltered way.

Two skydivers about to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 feet
Skydivers on a tandem jump must trust each other. Which type prevails?

If creative friction is the destination, trust is the vehicle that gets us there. There are two types of trust.

First, there's the kind of trust that allows me to feel safe with you.

Second, there's the kind of trust that assures me I can depend on you to do what you say.

One is not better than the other. One is not more important. However, the different aspects of trust are situational.

For instance, when working together on a project, one type of trust dominates. I need to depend on you to deliver on time and on budget and with the level of quality I expect. If you disappoint me, I lose trust in you. When brainstorming, the other takes precedence. If I think I am going to be mocked and bullied, if my ideas are going to be dismissed or stolen, if I am shut out of the conversation altogether, I'm going to disengage. No trust.

Also, different people may naturally value one type of trust over the other. You may not care much about feeling safe with a person but, by golly, that person better not disappoint you. While another person may forever hold you at arms' length if they think you're going to screw them over.

Trust is both situational and personal.

Either way, it's hard to imagine we're going to gather around the table for a productive exchange of diverse ideas and opinions in a focused and unfiltered way if we're suspicious of one another. In fact, why would we?

What do you think about trust? Do you value one aspect over the other? Do you think there's an additional -- or a different -- definition of trust that is not captured in the two above?

If it's not trust, what do you think is the most important factor for teams to possess to be effective?

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