Transcript of Without Trust Great Leadership Teams Cannot Thrive Webinar

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Okay. So it's 1:00 and welcome to great leaders build great leadership teams monthly webinar. Today's topic is without trust leadership teams cannot thrive. My name's Jack McGuinness and I'll be the presenter today. Welcome everyone. Looks like we have a good turnout. Just couple notes on logistics. Number one, I'm at a client site today so you might hear a little bit ... I'm in a warehouse so you might hear a little echoing in the background and there's an airport nearby so you might hear some planes flying overhead as well. So I apologize for that in advance if it interrupts the sound at all.

Secondly, as I say before we start each webinar, what you'll see in the presentation ahead is slides that violate PowerPoint 101 presentations. I provide a lot of meaty content, pretty much on each slide. Try not to read them off, but try to provide as much content as I can and the slides are distributed afterwards. Just so you have as much information as possible. Final note on logistics. If you're interested in using the Q&A feature on the Zoom, the Zoom Q&A feature, please just ask a question throughout the course of the presentation. It's just me presenting so I'll try to get to as many of your questions I can throughout the course of the conversation. But don't hesitate to ask a question if you have one. We'll also talk at the end a little bit if you have any questions.

So with those logistics out of the way, I'm looking forward to getting started. So before we get started there's just a few words. I was talking to my partner Gil Brady last week and we were talking about this topic and he had a couple of great words that I think that I'd like to challenge you to listen for throughout the course of the discussion today. The first one is assumptions, and the second one is disappointment. And I think throughout the course of this presentation you'll see why assumptions can sometimes get in the way of trust and jumping to lack of trust rather than displaying disappointment can also have an impact on trust relationships on teams.

To level set I just want to ... We'll walk through the discussion flow. First we're going to talk a little bit about a definition of trust. What is trust all about? Why is it so important for leadership teams to build trust? And most importantly repair it. And how does trust get diminished so easily? And what are some of our lessons that we've learned through working with our clients that can be done to repair trust?

So to level set the conversation, I just want to start by talking about our definition of what the characteristics of a great leadership team are. We work exclusively with the leadership teams of growing companies. Primarily small, midsize companies. Although we work with some big units of some much larger companies. And the work that we do with these leadership teams, we have kind of narrowed our definition of what a great leadership team is into these four bullets. The first is obviously results are number one. Without results, having performance that the organization desires, then the team has nothing. Number two. We call this the force multiplier effect but teams that have impact way beyond the contributions of any one team member, you kind of know it when you've been there. I always give the example. I played basketball in college and one year we had just a special team, group of guys that just we didn't necessarily have the most talent in the world, but we put it all together and definitely the contributions of any one team member were not as great as the impact of the whole group of us.

Third. This is really important. And it's really ... You can see it when it happens. Teams that grow in their capacity to address more complex problems over time, that's not an easy thing to do. And so those teams that are able to do that are definitely on the top tier, I guess is how we would put it. And the last one is resilience. The ability to get back on the horse when you fall off. Because nothing's perfect and there's no perfect team and there's no perfect environment and nothing's going to be perfect all the time. But the resilience to deal with adversity, with ambiguity, with setbacks, really important. So these four characteristics ... Because the discussion today is really about trust on leadership teams. So we just wanted to level set the conversation with those four characteristics.

And I'm sure that if you think about the word trust and the potential impacts of lack of trust, you can look at each one of those bullet points and see hmm, if the trust isn't there then we're probably going to have some issues with each one of those. So that's our definition of a great leadership team. So what is trust? I just pulled this from Warren Buffet. He says that trust is like the air we breathe. You sort of know it when it's not present but you don't kind of notice it when things are going well. So I thought that was a pretty cool quote. Miriam Webster's definition of trust, and we're going to unpack this a little bit on the next page, but "Belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective. The reliance on character or the ability, strength or truth of someone or something." So you kind of get the feel of character and reliability and ability to perform, are subsumed in that definition.

So this is how we unpack trust. And from our perspective there's three main components of a high trust leadership team. The first is clearly competence. You have to have folks that are competent to perform the work that they're asked to perform. Whether that's management or functional responsibility. So the capability to perform is big. But also included in that, I think, is taking pride in the work that you do. The ability to ... And I think this potentially is maybe the most important bullet here is the ability to value learning, I think is subsumed in the word competence as well. And then the willingness to share expertise. So competence is a huge component of high trust leadership teams.

Next, character. Character's big and you saw that in the Miriam Webster definition. Acting with integrity. Demonstrating that you're not always right. And demonstrating vulnerability is big. Being curious. Not judging. Showing forgiveness. The ability to communicate directly, even when you're trying to be empathetic, for example. 

I've highlighted these two in the middle here because there's a study that I'm going to talk about on the next page, a Google study, that's been very well publicized on Google talks. I did a long study on what makes a team effective at Google. It came down to the number one thing is really wrapped up in those two bullets right there. Demonstrating vulnerability, being curious, not judging, having forgiveness. We'll talk a little bit more about that on the next page.

The last element or component of a high trust leadership team from our perspective is dependability. The following through on commitments. Making them and keeping them. Having a level of consistency. You don't just show up and follow through once but, you consistently follow through. You consistently follow up. Expectations issues, Gill and I were talking about this last week as well. You know, he hammered home to me, he said that the miss match of expectations can often damage trust right out of the starting gate almost. And, the ability to take measured risk, right? Measured being the key phrase, not unfounded, unwilled risk. But, taking the ability to take measured risks. So, competence, character and dependability are from our perspective three components of high trust leadership team. 

So, let's talk a little bit about the highlighted part here, under character. Again, it's from a Google study. They identified, and I have some resources here at the end. I think one of the last pages of the presentation that I provide a number of resources, and the URL's to them. A Google study identified psychological safety or an individuals perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk as the most important dynamic on effective teams. The most important dynamic on effective teams at Google. 

So, psychological safety is not a new term. It was coined by this woman, a Harvard professor named Amy Edmondson, and her Ted Talk is included in here as well. But, it really has a lot to do with the ability to not be judged, and the ability to not feel embarrassed for making a mistake, right? So, this large study that Google did honed in on this whole concept of psychological safety. Team mates feel safe to take risks around their team members without being judged as ignorant, incompetent, negative or disruptive. Really, you know, seems simple. Seems kind of obvious, but think about some of the teams you've been on and, think about those that speak up and those that don't. Even when you maybe took a risk and reached out and, someone was like "oh, that's the dumbest thing", or they kind of just had some passive aggressive response to it, right? So, the ability to feel comfortable and safe, being able to put your two cents on the table. 

From my perspective, you know, if you look back at the character definition that we came up with here is the ability for someone to be vulnerable without being judged, and when you make a mistake you get forgiven. Rather than be defensive or attacking there's a sense of curiosity. To me, that's how those ideas of psychological safety are summed up. 

Amy Edmondson goes on to say there's three things that teams can do to foster psychological safety. The first is frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem. To be honest with you, when I first read that I really wasn't sure exactly what she meant by that, but I think what she means is that every opportunity that is presented to a leadership team, even those with high stakes, have to be looked at, or should be looked at, as an opportunity to learn something from them rather than just as a linear path of screwing up execution. That's kind of how I saw it at least anyway. Anyone else have any other thoughts on that, I'd love to hear it. 

Also, the ability to acknowledge your own fail ability or again, be vulnerable. Then, asking lots of questions, being curious. It's a great article in last month's ... I guess they do bi monthly now, Harvard Business Review. It's called The Business ... or the Case for Curiosity. It's a great discussion of the importance of curiosity for innovation, and for psychological safety. 

So, let's move on now to ... we've talked a lot about what trust is, and so why is it so important for leadership teams to have trust on their teams? According to the head of industry at Google, while this study was being done at least, he claims that there is no team without trust. I think that's a pretty strong statement. I mean, we coin the title of this webinar as leadership teams can't thrive without trust. They certainly can survive but, they can't thrive or perform as well as they otherwise could without trust. That's our perspective. So, he's pretty adamant that there's really no effective team without trust. 

The researchers went on to suggest that individuals on Google teams with higher psychological safety, as defined on the previous page, are less likely to leave, they're more engaged. They're more likely to collaborate and, be accepting of other ideas, and be innovative with their team mates, more ... ability to bring in more revenue. They're rated more effective twice as often by executives at Google. Psychological safety is huge, and trust is huge from Google's perspective at least. They're pretty creditable entity for the most part. 

Why is trust so important for leadership teams? Again, from ... this is more our [inaudible 00:16:23] at relationship impact, but from our perspective trust impacts the keys to building a highly effective leadership team. From our perspective, there are two fundamental keys that are subsumed in a lot of the other stuff that you saw in the pervious slides. But, that are subsumed in ... that really make up an effective team. First is productive dialogue and the second is accountability. Productive dialogue, we just simply mean the ability to have really good productive discussions about the most important stuff you're facing in a manner that maybe doesn't completely eliminate hard feelings but, it leaves minimal relational scars, right?

Then, our premise is that without that ability to have that type of productive dialogue, challenging and debating most important issues, really difficult for a team to hold itself accountable. Clearly, a boss, the team leader, the CEO, the general manager can hold a team accountable from a power accountability perspective but, if you're really looking to get back to those characteristics of resilience and addressing more complex problems overtime, and really getting the results that you're looking for in a productive way, then really hard for just the boss to hold the team accountable. Really, the best teams are those where they're able to hold each other accountable, and support each other while they're holding each other accountable. So, those are two important premises from our perspective, two keys to obtained effectiveness. It gets back to without trust, very difficult to realize the benefits of a great leadership team, and those four characteristics we talked about earlier. 

How does it get diminished so easily? How does trust get diminished so easily? Sorry about the planes. I didn't realize we were that close to an airport. How does it get diminished so easily? First of all, let's talk about trust takes two parties. An individual to a group, or two individuals with each other, two groups with each other, whatever to diminish trust. Even if one of the parties doesn't recognize it. It takes two parties. 

So, sometimes, you know, I don't trust you but you don't even know it, and you trust me. Right? So, just wanted to level set and talk a little bit about the fact that there's two parties here. So, just going to take us through some scenarios from our perspective, right? We're going to look at a view from the party demonstrating a behavior. Again, the party can be a group or an individual. Then, we'll look at a view from the party observing the behavior. 

A person or a group behaves with what looks like, or is, a lack of competence character or dependability. But, what could be overdone ... use of overdone strength. What I mean by that is if I'm really assertive and aggressive and that's really one of my strengths as a leader, when I overdo that I can be an arrogant ... I can be arrogant. So, sometimes that behavior is not necessarily lack of character, dependability or competence. It's just it may show up like that because I'm overdoing something. 

Lack of external self awareness. What I mean by that is don't think about, or we don't care about how others perceive your behavior. I've mentioned this on many of my webinars and podcast over the last six/seven months, but great book by Tasha Urick called Insight on Self Awareness. It talks about the two sides to self awareness. That's how I see myself and how others see me. Both equally important. The second one is one where getting feedback and understanding how others see us is one of the harder parts of self awareness. So, in this area we demonstrated behavior. We don't really think about or care about how others perceive that behavior. 

If we get direct or even indirect feedback, there's a lack of curiosity potentially about why others might be reacting or providing the type of feedback on, could be a passive aggressive reaction, it could be a direct feedback. It could be sort of indirect, kind of nice, kind feedback, but we respond maybe defensively or lack of curiosity. That can lead to diminished behavior. 

Then, finally we jump to instead of maybe being disappointed in the other party we're dealing with, we jump right to a lack of trust. Really, what I think, we stop wanting to learn. We stop being curious. So, view from the party demonstrating the behavior might be behave in a certain way, we don't think or care about how others look at us when we hear it, and when we see some behavior we might not really be curious about it. Finally, we jump to ... well, I'm getting this reaction so, I just don't trust their intentions. 

So, a view from the party observing the behavior. Let's look at this a little bit from the other side, right? Observed behaviors that are based on my expectations, that aren't necessarily in sync with my experience. So, someone behaving in a certain way and that's not what I was expecting, I was expecting them to do this. That's not how I would have done it. That type of thing. Make assumptions without understanding other intentions. They see the behavior but they don't necessarily understand the intentions or the motivations. Unfortunately, sometimes when we make assumptions, they're not true. That can be really devastating, if we make an assumption about why someone did something, and we assume that they did it because they were lazy, or they were arrogant or, they were deceitful, when in fact that wasn't the case. The behavior looked like that but, their intention was not that. Then, we can get ourselves in trouble. I think that's how a lot of this happens. 

Then, we interact uncomfortable. That can take many different forms, right? Jump to conflict, avoid confrontation, I think in the work that we do avoid confrontation is one of the biggest things we see is people just don't like to confront each other. I don't mean yell at each other, I just mean confront each other about behaviors they're seeing that they might not appreciate, or act passive aggressively, or many other. It could take other forms as well, like ignoring or whatever. Then, again, jump to stop trusting. We bypass disappointment. 

This is what Gill was getting at with me last week is, you know, when he was relaying a story about a conflict he just had, an interaction with his wife. He said, "You know, I never wanted to jump to not trusting her because she didn't do what she said she was going to do. I was just disappointed that she didn't do it, and recognized that it was because she likes to help other people. The fact that she didn't do what she didn't do is because she was out helping other people." That was an example. So, bypassing disappointment. That's kind of Gill's phrase. I really like it. It's jumping to ... instead of ... maybe we can be disappointed. We don't have to jump to not trusting someone and stopping being curious and learning. 

These were my ... these were our kind of perspectives, our takes on how trust can get diminished so easily from both the perspective of the observing and the behaving party. 

So, what can be done to repair trust, right? I think if you go back to the scenarios, both the observing and the behaving parties, there's something called a confirming orientation versus a learning, and taking, a learning orientation. Trust is extremely difficult to repair because when it's diminished learning often stops, and we go to a place where we have a confirming perspective where I can't trust them because they never keep their commitments. Or, I can't trust him because he acts without consideration of any of the unattended consequences. Those are natural reactions. They're ones that I have quite a bit, no question about it. However, if you can get yourself to look at situations when you feel lack of trust, and try to turn the tables on it, the confirming perspective into a learning perspective, the benefits can be pretty dramatic. 

For example, rather than say I can't trust him because he's simply not competent, potentially a phrase you might use is can we spend a few minutes talking about how the work we do impacts each other. I don't trust them because they're always pointing blame at us. Wow, that's worded poorly. Sorry about that. To, I recognize that sometimes we have made mistakes. Would you be open to having a constructive discussion with us on how we can improve? I recognize that these are not easy. I recognize that sometimes it sounds like soft touchy feely stuff, like we're maybe acquiescing or giving in, but if we're looking to have a good outcome and turn UN trusting relationship around, what other choices do you have? Obviously you can fire people, or you can just live with lack of trust, which is a tough place to be. 

Okay, so what can be done? Here's our three step model for what can be done to repair trust. Obviously, it's not as simple as a three step model. It's time consuming and requires leadership. It requires commitment from all parties but, these are kind of the buckets of work that we believe are really important for repairing trust. 

First, there's got to be some sort of leadership demonstrated. That could be the form of leader, or it could be another leader on the team that's working with the former leader that says, "Hey, we got some trust issues going on here that are at the root of some of the problems we're having." Number one, getting the team to acknowledge that there are some trust issues. Again, I'm not suggesting any of this is simple, but important none the less. If you believe that trust is a critical component of building an effective leadership team, then if you have a lack of trust you need to do something about it. So, getting the team to acknowledge that there's a problem is big. 

This next one is one of the ground rules I usually, in the beginning of the work that we do with the executive teams that we work with, we stick it out there as a suggested ground rule of how we're going to do the work that we do together is suspend judgment on any colleagues that you've potentially are struggling with, and even more than that, or don't trust. Suspend judgment and step back, and give them a second chance. See how it plays out, right? Help the team diagnose the challenges and impacts. If not once they've acknowledge the problem, like, "Okay, well what is it that's getting in the way?" It could be structural things that are getting in the way. Maybe we don't meet often enough, or maybe we are haphazard when we meet and it causes people to step over each other. There could be clearly could be structural issues. Could be lack of rule definition. That's a classic example of where trust, expectations, get mismanaged and assumptions get made and trust breaks down.

I think the most important things that a formal leader can do is model trust behaviors. Most important behavior from our perspective that a leader can model when trying to rebuild trust on a team is listening to feedback. Listening, number one. Then, listening to feedback. Marshall Goldsmith does a great job talking about what he calls feet forward, or listen. But, all around feedback and I think those leaders that can model the ability to listen and take feedback well without defensiveness, without the passive aggressiveness, without retribution for sure, are going to go the furthest in being able to help its team on a way of repairing trust. 

Second bucket of things that really need to happen to repair trust are making commitments, right? Before you make commitments there's got to be some back to that self awareness piece. How do I see myself, and how does that kind of measure up to how others see me? The only way you do that is by finding out, right? Asking and getting some feedback and really listening. 

Gaining some more awareness and not just my own reflection but, getting some reflection of those that I work with. re collaborating expectations at team and individual levels. I think structurally trust can break down quite often because of lack of understanding of mutual expectations. So, re collaborating and having discussions about what expectations are at the level of the team and the level of the individual. Not just at the level of role, but the level of behavior. How are we going to treat each other? What's our level of responsiveness to each other? That type of thing. Re collaborating those expectations, really important. 

Committing to adapting behaviors to the benefit of the team. The benefit of the team at this point in the teams journey, not some other team I worked on, but the team that you're working on right now, and the group of individuals that comprise that team. You know, I use this example all the time. Working with a ... I worked with a woman a couple years ago who was really very results oriented, very effective in her role as a chief operating officer, was very directive, assertive, she was a start up COO. All great characteristics, or great behaviors for the role she was playing at that time. However, she went to a larger company in another operational role that was more well established. Continued to demonstrate those ... or play those behaviors out. Those behaviors weren't necessarily right for the team that she was on at that point. They had a pretty good rhythm, and they had a bunch of ... they got stuff done already. She wasn't kind of sort of dragging the team along. 

So, behaviors that worked on one team don't necessarily work on the team you're on right now. So, demonstrating leadership, making commitments that are to the benefit of the team. Then, experiencing productive disagreement. 

Full disclosure, I stole this term from ... oh god, it was something I was listening to a couple weeks ago. Guy named Phil Sandal. He runs a group called Team Coaching International, and they have a great diagnostic that we use. He talked about the only way to really get through repairing trust is when you've experienced disagreements with other parties and you get through it, and you learn from it, and it doesn't turn out to be the most horrible thing in the world. 

So, in order to do that you have to commit to some patience and some curiosity. You have to be curious. You have to suspend judgment as I said earlier. You have to dig in and revisit trust issues. If I have ... I'm having some struggles with someone on my team to not go too deep down into the wounds but, to revisit it, a particular issue, and work through it. Approach the issues through a new lens and these things that we're talking about in the previous pages. Then, ultimately to learn that disagreement isn't such a bad thing.

So, that's all I got for you today. I hope it was helpful. So, from our experience I started out with the words assumptions and disagreement. I hope throughout the course of the discussion you could get why those were two such important words. Assumptions really contribute to ... assumptions about behaviors contribute to diminishing trust. You know, we make ... we see someone behave a certain way, and we're like, we jump to, oh they must not care, or they must be lazy or whatever. Sometimes that can be true, and if it's true then it becomes a performance type issue that needs to be dealt with. But, often times they're not true, and when they're not true that can have a way of coming back to haunt a team. 

Secondly, disagreement as we've just walked through here, is jumping to disagreement as Gill, my partner puts it, jumping to disagreement ... I'm sorry jumping to lack of trust and bypassing disagreement is a bad thing. You know, or disappointment, excuse me. Bypassing disappointment. You know, we can be disappointed with someone didn't do something the way we would have done it, or they didn't follow through on something but, it doesn't necessarily mean we have to jump to a lack of trusting them. 

So, here are some resources. Again, I'm going to hand these slides out to you. Last thing I wanted to do is there's a complimentary offer on our website. URL is right here. Leadership team assessment from the leader's point of view on how they view their team based on seven structural components and seven relational components. It's a free assessment through Team Coaching International. It's called the team diagnostic. We will administer that and debrief with you over the phone. 

That is my story and I'm sticking to it.