But I'm not talking about trusting someone will do what is asked of them or trusting that they are competent at their job. I am talking about trusting someone enough to be ourselves around them - to volunteer ideas and opinions without the fear of ridicule or retribution - to not be betrayed for being who we are.
Now take that one step further - how well do you really trust your friends and family? How much do you trust that they will listen to you and accept you, and embrace your differences as much as your similarities? It's as important to find the answer to this question as it is to answer any other question in your life. Because if you don't trust them to support who you are, they you are probably denying yourself right now.
How many of us are actually willing to say that we don't understand something to our peers, family members, friends, or teammates? Or that we disagree with something really popular? How about admitting that you made a mistake? Ask for help? Or the most difficult for many of us, hold a someone else accountable for something they either did or failed to do and not have it blow up in our face? This is the trust that I'm talking about. This is the trust that is the foundation of a solid team - a solid partnership, whether it be business or personal.
Funny thing is that most of us, think / expect this "trust" to be present at the most critical time - without any investment into it. We think that just because there is a crisis going on, people will tell us the truth and give us their best. But building trust among teammates / partners doesn't only occur during a crisis. It happens every minute of every day, in the way we conduct ourselves doing out daily activities. It happens in the way we "walk our talk" each and every day.
So here is a tip that you can start practicing today. If you are on a team (whether you are the leader or not) and want to build more trust amongst your team members, stop and ask yourself, "Am I modeling the behavior I want others to emulate?" In nearly every case I know or have seen, I find the answer to be no. That's not to say that it doesn't happen, but if you look honestly at yourself, most people live the mantra, "Do as I say, not as I do."
If you haven't been emulating the behavior you want, STOP right there. Over the course of the next month, show some vulnerability to your team mates. Tell them when you don't know the answer to a problem or that you don't understand what they are doing. Be honest with yourself about the mistakes that you made, the commitments that you haven't followed up on, and the accountabilities that you've missed - and share them with your team. Odds are, they already know (though they may act surprised), because others are usually more keenly aware of our foibles than we are. It's our lack of honest self evaluation that gets in the way of our credibility as a member of the team. And by admitting your vulnerabilities (by becoming trustworthy), your team members will gain new respect for you and more importantly will become more willing to be vulnerable as well.
And here is the key to creating change on your team - don't focus on the results of your behavior right away. This would be a fatal mistake. It may feel like the vulnerability is a sign of weakness - that your weakness is only going to cause you more harm than good. But revel in the process - reward yourself for doing, because the results will come - they always do!
Change is hard - people will not immediately trust that this new attitude is real, so they will resist. They will resist for two reasons: one because they won't believe its real, the second because they are afraid of changing themselves. But as you continue to "walk your talk", you will begin to have people open up to you more and more. They will begin to trust you. And shortly thereafter, they will begin to trust others as well. And you will have created a virus (a good virus) that will spread throughout your entire team. You will have become the moral leader of the team, even if you may (or may not) be the formal leader.
And you will have made your team stronger and more capable than they have ever been before.