Take cover! MOVE! Take cover! Lads, you’re in this situation because you’ve all f**ked up. One in, all in. Goooooo!
It would be easy to assume the above has been extracted from a film. Especially ‘one in - all in’ - it sounds like something from the three musketeers. But you would be wrong, it is in fact an extract from the multiple ‘thrashings’* I once received from the training ground of Lympstone (the home of Commando training).
This sets the scene for one of the most essential and fundamental aspects of any high-performance team, and that’s trust. I am not just talking about trust in a flippant way, I am referring to trust as an almost higher calling - for the purpose of this article we will identify it as ‘true trust’.
Having a team where true trust is not present is a bit like having a pack of salt and vinegar crisps, but somehow they’ve not added the salt. You end up having something that isn’t quite complete. I mean on the surface, its package tells you it's a pack of salt and vinegar (tick), when you open the bag and you see crisps (tick), you could even be fooled by the smell (tick).
It’s only when we begin to chow down on the crisps, do we realise we’re missing a crucial ingredient - almost undetectable until the moment we begin working our way through the packet. Can you imagine the disappointment? Much like a team - it looks, feels and acts like a team…. But does it have trust?
However, having a team where true trust is present - is, and I can tell you from experience, much better than any packet of crisps. Having a place where you know that trust has been fully established and adopted, is practised daily and is a key priority of the leadership, is the moment you begin to thrive, personally and professionally. Experiencing an environment where ‘one in - all in’ is there at every facet, is the needle turner every team and business desires.
So how do we achieve true trust?
Is it easy, no. Is it simple, yes!
For us, trust is comprised of three pillars. Much like a building, if one of the three pillars were missing, you may still have a building, but it’s weakened due to instability and does not marry up against the architect's original plans.
The three pillars of true trust are integrity, competence and compassion. The final one is and has been the missing piece for so many teams we have coached on.
This is about having difficult conversations, it’s about being honest with what’s happening, it’s about speaking up.
Shared competence is a wonderfully brilliant asset to have in a team, but you need to know it. Competence is about knowing your teammates are dedicated and competent, and your teammates know you are too.
It can only be said as best as this “I care for you, and I know that you care for me too.” Attempting to only bring our logical beings to work is like saying, hey, only bring half of yourself to work. Forget about you being a human.
I must stress, compassion is not compassion if used against someone. To use compassion as a weapon to get people to do something you want them to do is malicious and contributes nothing but a selfish vested interest. Go work on your own, get out of the team!
How can I show it as a leader?
Showing empathy as a leader is no better motivator for getting people bought into what you are doing, but more importantly what they are doing. Empathy, in its own right, is multi-faceted, and one of those facets includes vulnerability.
I must be clear that vulnerability or too much of it, is uninspiring - but when used tactically and with sincerity, it is an incredible tool to get your team bought in, and clear about what type of culture you have.
Being honest on Loopin for example, shows to the rest of the team, that you no longer need to deny the human element. Everyone can bring their whole selves to work and moving to management or becoming a leader never has to compromise this.
As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “be the change you wish to see”.
*(definition: hard exercise, initiated by an instructor after a recruits repeated mistakes)