Have you heard this before?
It’s one of those phrases, like, “can I be honest with you?”, that always leaves me wondering. What do you mean can you be honest with me? You haven’t been? I assumed you were…
‘Trust me’ is one of those phrases that people who are untrustworthy call out a lot. It’s a little unnerving, akin to being told someone loves you on the first date.
Run. Far. Away.
Yet I’ve been thinking about trust lately because in the context of work. Specifically in the context of high-performance teams, trust is simply essential.
Just before the holidays I attended a training facilitated in part by my friend Donna. Not only is she good at what she does, she lives and breathes her principles. Trust as a function of high-performance work is one of them, and she introduced me to Patrick Lencioni (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) and naturally as a true Vata I devoured all of his works in short order.
And, because the whole world really is connected, I saw immediately the tie-in to Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements) and yes, even W. Edwards Deming (Out of the Crisis). By the way, if you’re trying to burnish your personal reading library you could do a lot worse than to indulge in these thinkers.
You see, trust in the context implied here is more than just ‘believe in me’. It is, believe in the good intention(s) behind my acts because we are aligned, we have the same purpose, values and goals. Trust as intended here and in the context of high performance is, we are on the same page and [so] I believe in your motivation.
I don’t question it.
Trust is not blind faith nor absolution from mistake, it is an advanced form of relationship that says, even when we disagree I don’t wonder about where you’re coming from because I trust you. We are aligned.
Now I’ve been a part of a few high performing teams in my career (they don’t come about as often as you might think) and even though I didn’t realize it at the time looking back with the benefit of the insight these authors and others have provided, I see trust was implicit. I wasted no energy wondering what was driving my team mates.
Neither did they.
All of our energy was focused on solving problems, achieving goals and making the right things happen. That’s what you get with trust, or alignment.
So the next time somebody says trust me, ask yourself a rhetorical question: should you? Have you built the foundation for trust by having those explicit conversations about values and goals? Do you believe in the other person’s intent even if you don’t always understand their behavior? Are you aligned?
If so, trust becomes a powerful form of collective energy in its best possible form.
Trust among high performing team mates isn’t optional, it’s required.
So. If you don’t have that trust already, now would be a good time to start building it.