Building Trust

Teams can exist in many formats, but successful teams can only truly exist where there is trust.

Why is this the case?

When there is real trust within a team, our brains operate in a completely different way to when there is low trust.

In low trust teams, fear is a constant and as humans, and unless your teams goal is to out run the sabre toothed tiger, you probably won’t be working in your optimal state.  In times of fear our bodies are blooded with adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone.  This is highly effective when you are in real danger and need to preserve your life.  You will be operating from your amygdala, where short term, tactical, instant decisions are formed.  You will look to preserve yourself first and think about your own needs.  This is the opposite of team, yet the prevalent behaviours in many teams.

In teams with high trust, the executive brain kicks in and neural connections work to open up the brains creativity, strategic thinking, compassion, empathy, planning, logic and reasoning.  In high trust teams, our brains are stimulated with oxytocin, which is the connection hormone, which further embeds teamwork.

When teams perform and succeed, everyone feels rewarded and dopamine rules, meaning everyone wants to do it again.  Success drives success.

So the case for trust is pretty compelling.  But what does it look like?

  • Members openly share their strengths and weaknesses
  • Members feel as easy congratulating someone as much as holding them to account
  • Members freely own up to their mistakes or failures without fear of blame or judgement
  • Members trust that they each have each others best interests at heart
  • Members understand each other and appreciate and value each others contributions
  • Members can work together openly, freely and with creativity to find solutions
  • Members feel at ease with each other.

The How

It won’t happen overnight but it requires a leader who is open, honest and acts with authenticity and integrity.  The leader must create a safe space where their people feel psychologically safe (read about googles insights here) and to lean into trust.  As the leader role models trust, it becomes easier for other members to step into trust.

Trust is a way of being and doing, which many of us have had programmed out of us.  Relearning trust is essential for creating a high performing team