Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

Building Trust in Teams: A Leader's Role

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Soft Skills

Building Trust in Teams: A Leader's Role

Article excerpt

Building trust in teams is one of the key aspects of learning takeaway that every team building workshop delivers, be it indoor or outdoor, or outbound. The attitude and ability to trust one another in a team is considered one of the most critical elements that help team members bond with each other and work together seamlessly towards their common goals. As leaders of teams, every individual constantly looks for this trait in their teams. However, just a few practice activities like trust fall, obstacle path, etc. in a workshop or the knowledge that trust is essential may not be enough for a team to have and work with that trait. Apart from these intermittent activities, leaders also need to consistently do their bit, day in and day out, to ensure that trust gets built and stays in their teams. This paper introduces the concept of trust in individuals and teams, describes the various steps that leaders need to take, and the techniques that they can apply at different stages of their teams to develop and maintain trust within them.

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ?'. And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say ?'. They don't think ?. They think 'we'; they think 'team'. They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but 'we' gets the credit... This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.

- Peter Drucker

Trust in Teams

As Harold Macmillan said, '? man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts." Trust is the foundation of every successful relationship, be it personal or professional. In organizations today where teams have to work together, it is imperative that employees trust one another.

In a social context, trust usually is referenced when one individual or party is willing to rely on the words or actions of the other individual or party and though not sure of the outcome of the actions, is willing to leave control to the other party knowing well enough that the possible risks involve failure of the task or harm to self if things do not go as trusted (Figure 1).

In fact, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trust as the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something, i.e., the confidence that is placed in someone.

Trust : The Foundation of Relationships

Trust is mainly attributed to relationships between people and amongst social groups. It is said that when an individual trusts another, s/he tends to expose certain vulnerabilities to the other person believing that they will not take advantage of the individual's openness. Individuals in personal relationships such as friendships to marriage to working together, tend to do just that-to feel the other person is trustworthy. Most times, the other emotions that go hand in hand with trust include friendship, love, agreement, peace of mind, comfort, and ease.

Many a time, with trust as the foundation of the relationship, one tends to predict what the other can do even without knowing much about the other person or without much knowledge of the situation.

The History of Trust

Psychology studies state that to trust is to believe that the other person will do what is expected. Erikson (1950), in his famous theory of eight stages of psycho-social development, portrayed that how much an individual trusts another begins to form as a foundation right in the first two years of the person's childhood, i.e., during infancy itself (Figure 2). In fact, trust is also known tobe neuro-biologically traced and connected to the activity of the human brain and is altered or aligned with the levels of the chemical oxytocin present.

Trust building starts within the family, and then slowly as the child grows up, the foundations traverse to the other social groups and this continues on over time. Every experience either increases or decreases the levels of trust that one can place in others- success leads to feelings of security, trust, positivity and optimism, while failure results in a sense of insecurity and distrust. …

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