Building a leadership team is an essential part of any leader’s success. Once that team is in place, the next most important thing is to build leadership team trust. This can be a challenge as trust is hard to define. It is often more of a feeling than something tangible. Yet, we can build frameworks in our business to build a high trust organization. This blog provides the 5 Cs crucial to building leadership team trust.
Leadership Team Trust Defined
Before jumping into the 5 Cs, it is essential to clarify what trust means in the workplace context. In Harvard Business Review, Amy Jen Su brought needed clarity to the definition. She framed the foundations of leadership team trust in three areas.
- Trust in performance. Every team member needs others to perform and get the things done to move the organization closer to success. This builds confidence, dependability, and alignment.
- Trust team members to bring good judgment. When there is a lack of trust in team members, team members compensate by getting over-involved in each other’s areas of expertise. This withholding of confidence translates into the idea of “I don’t trust you to do good work.”
- Trust to represent each other inside and outside of the organization. How much do members of the leadership team trust the others to represent them and their interests to the broader team, external clients, or other key stakeholders? When that trust is high, you believe they will inspire confidence. When it’s not, you don’t want them in the room, much less at the table.
So, how do we begin to build trust? I believe there are five fundamental principles for building leadership team trust. When you have these all in place, your team will get more done in less time. And that trust will expand beyond your leadership team into your entire organization. In a 2017 study, researchers found that high trust organizations had 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity, and 76% more employee engagement.
The Five Cs of Leadership Team Trust
Check Your Ego
Leadership teams need to be a team of equals. Everyone participates equally and contributes equally to the broader success of the organization.
When we leave our egos at the door, we eliminate many problems, including closed minds, overtalking, and individuals dominating the conversation and the decision process.
As you build your team, weed out the high ego, prideful leaders. Confidence is great, but never at the expense of others.
Clarity of Roles and Plans
I have spoken before about the importance of role clarity on the leadership team, beginning with job descriptions. I’m not advocating for stovepipe management. I support the concept that everyone knows their areas of responsibility and what they need to get done to move the business forward.
Further, the senior leader must provide clarity on the vision and mission of the organization. They need to ensure that each team member understands where they are driving the business and how their role contributes to that success. And great leadership teams establish that clarity throughout the organization.
On any leadership team, healthy conflict is welcome. Not everyone will or needs to agree. Healthy disagreement is good for the leadership team, especially when the stakes are high. And that disagreement can be resolved when team members debate productively and with the greater goal in mind.
Meeting rules can help promote this. The team must be aware of what good and bad behavior are. And, further, they each need to stand up when people break behavioral rules. A lack of civility is never acceptable.
The leadership team must have clear communication. Regular group meetings, open communication, and robust discussion are essential to the team’s success.
In my last business, I built the leadership team’s office around a central conference room to drive interactions in a dedicated space. The mantra was that all topics were open for discussion in that room. We could have disagreements. Upon leaving the room, all were clear on the issue and its resolution. Most importantly, they were aligned and agreed on key talking points as they informed their teams.
For the leadership team to build long-term trust, each member must meet their commitments to the team. And, when they struggle, to let the team know well in advance of any problems or delays. No surprises and no excuses.
Delivering on what you commit to is essential for a high-performing team. Nothing will undermine the team like one member consistently underdelivering on their commitments.
Leadership Team Trust Drives Long-Term Success
When your leadership team trusts each other, your entire organization benefits, a cultural commitment to trust and its activation will flow from the leadership team throughout the organization. When the leadership team develops those trusted relationships, they model them for the employees. Creating a high trust organization. Interdisciplinary teams will get more done for you. And everyone in the organization will have more belief in your success.
Are you struggling to get your leadership team aligned? Is trust a struggle? Make sure to join my next workshop, From Accidental Leader to Confident Executive. You will leave with three actionable steps to uplevel your leadership. Space is limited so register today!