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The Importance of Trust in Teams & Organizations

Trust isn't just the "glue" that holds teams & organizations together, it's a necessity for efficient and profitable results.


In a recent article on LinkedIn I wrote that strong teams are comprised of individuals who have mutual respect for one another, each member able to use their strengths and each member having the autonomy to do so.

The same characteristics apply to teams working in organizations. Teams that have the mutual respect of the other teams in the organization, teams working to their strengths and teams having the autonomy to do so. Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall, in their book Nine Lies About Work comment that healthy teams possess the same characteristics mentioned above- plus they have enthusiasm for the company’s mission, shared values, recognition for good work, confidence in the company’s future, and being challenged to grow.

But what is the glue that holds all of this together? What helps hold together teams and organizations? There is another characteristic that, if absent, will prevent teams and organizations from working well together - TRUST. Trust is the prerequisite for healthy teams and it is the lubricant that keeps teams and organizations operating in a healthy way, in a way that leads to efficiency and improved profitable results. In their 2022 Vitality Report, the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network reports that “trust predicted 72.5% of the variance in performance outcomes among individual team members”. In a study conducted by Tony Simons, professor at Cornell University, it was found that “behavioral integrity” of leaders can impact results by as much as 2.5% of revenues.

When you think about it, 2.5% of revenue can be a significant number.

Trust is an emotion. It is something we feel.

Joshua Freedman, in a 2016 article on Leading Through Change tells us that trust is something we feel and its purpose is to help us survive. He writes “When people feel trust, they are willing to give a little more energy toward their own and others’ motivation. Trust creates permission to take risks to change. Trust builds a sense of connection for teamwork. Trust makes it far more efficient to focus on what’s important to improve execution. The neuroscience of trust is fascinating – as researcher Paul Zak has found, trust has significant economic value – as well as moral value.” When we realize that trust is an emotion, that emotions drive people and people drive performance, this makes sense.

So how do we make ourselves trustworthy; how do we generate trust in others? The answer is the same, whether it be individuals working with other team members or teams in an organization working with other teams.

Charles Feltman, in his book The Thin Book of Trust, tells us there are four components to trust that we need to develop if we want others to trust us.

The first is that we simply have to care. We have to care not only about the other person or team but we also have to care about the quality of the work we do. Feltman points out that caring is critical in the trust equation, without it, the other components simply won’t happen. Second, we have to be sincere. We have to be honest with one another and simply do what we say we will do. Third, we have to be reliable. In other words, keep our commitments. Show up when we say we will and deliver what we promise. And fourth, we have to be competent. It’s important to note that the first three characteristics all have a relational aspect to them while only the fourth one addresses our skill, or ability to perform a task. This makes sense when we recognize that successful teams have healthy intra-team relationships. It is rare to see a successful team in which relationships between team members are strained.

If we want to improve performance within a team, and within organizations, we have to recognize the significance of trust. It directly impacts relationships and therefore, performance.

Ford Mosby

Vice President, Emotional Intelligence Specialist, Bond Manager



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