Trust is the currency of leadership.
It starts when your team can trust you and you can trust your team. It expands when other departments in the organization trust you as a leader and trust your team to execute on its promises and responsibilities.
It expands even further when your external customers trust you as an organization to deliver a solution to their needs and to do so in a valuable and timely manner.
Integration without trust is like a boat without a keel.
The keel is the strong backbone of a ship, made out of wood, metal, or other sturdy material. It juts down into the water beneath the boat like an upside-down shark fin and can weigh tons.
In fact, a keel can make up almost half of the overall weight of a typical sailboat. It needs to be sufficiently heavy to stabilize, while being light enough for agility and adaptation at speed.
You might think that something so heavy would immediately sink the ship. Instead, the weight works as ballast, keeping everything balanced in rough waters.
Trust works in the same way. When you have a team you can trust, through good days and bad, that you may wobble, but you won’t keel over.
There are two types of trust—relational and transactional.
When most people think of trust, they think of relational trust, because trust begins and ends on the strength of relationships. Every team has some sort of relationship history and these interconnected relationships either build up or erode trust.
Trust isn’t created in a vacuum. It’s built over hundreds of little moments of interaction between real, complex people with emotions, feelings, and fears. Thus, a powerful component of relational trust is positive intent—choosing to believe the best of team members first, and then doing the necessary research into a problem.
When any team struggles to believe the best of one another, communication breaks down, and growth grinds to a halt. The absence of relational trust makes everything exponentially more difficult to do.
But there’s another sort of trust that is equally necessary.
Transactional trust means you believe that a person or team can execute on your expectations, follow through, and get things done. It differs from relational trust in that you may trust someone to be a good person with the best of intentions, but whether or not they can be trusted to get the job done is another matter entirely.
Do you trust each other to deliver results? If someone promises to get something done, can you believe them?
If you can’t trust people or teams to deliver the results they promise, you’ve both got a big problem.
You may have people on your team whose integrity and ethics are top-notch, but who, unfortunately, lack the skill and competence to complete the task. That’s a breakdown in transactional trust that must be remedied.
In a business, transactional trust makes up a large part of the ballast that keeps the ship upright. If you have a person on your team that isn’t getting it done transactionally, that’s a place where you aren’t integrated and something needs to change.
I always say that your team can choose excuses or results. Of course, it’s tempting to keep giving the benefit of the doubt and avoid confrontation, but that doesn’t do anybody any good. To build trust, you’ve got to address the problem and provide the training or guidance necessary to improve the situation.
Mistrust creates isolation and isolation in a team environment always leads to disaster. So, ask yourself:
The best teams have this awareness in common. They know they can rely on each other to do the job well—and if there are problems, team members will speak up.
So which one will you choose for your team? Excuses or results? Isolation or trustworthy community?
If you’re just starting this leadership journey today, have grace with yourself and your team. Trust is built over time with integrity and honesty. Start by being trustworthy yourself. Next, look for ways to give other people a chance to be trustworthy with you.
Where do you see the need for more trust—relational or transactional—in your team? What conversations/steps will you take this week to begin moving back towards effective, efficient, and trusting performance?
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