Foundational Trust

Photo by David Thielen on Unsplash

This failure to build trust is damaging because it sets the tone for the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas.
~The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni

Teams are built upon a solid foundation of trust. If there is no trust, there can be no real team.

We hear about this all the time when it comes to team sports. Players have to be willing to trust their teammates in order to really come together as a team. You’ll see this in the coming weeks as we enter into March Madness with the NCAA Men’s Tournament. There are always upsets in the tournament. That’s what makes it so much fun to watch.

But, if you really dig deeper, some of the upsets are not so surprising. There are teams that are stacked with talent. It’s usually the big name schools that we hear year after year. The ones that get the top recruits who leave after a year or two and go to the NBA. Meanwhile, the teams that are doing the upsetting. Well, many times, those are teams led by upperclassmen who have been playing together for years.

Yes, a supremely talented team can beat one of these smaller school teams full of juniors and seniors. But, what if one of those players is having an off day? What if they are more concerned with looking good in the tournament than winning as a team? Their play becomes selfish, sloppy, and it opens doors for veteran teams to make mistakes. Good team chemistry combined with good coaching can take down even the best teams. It’s hard to build trust when you only play together for one season.

What teams are you on? Sports teams? Work teams? Volunteer teams? The more you get to know each other, the more you trust one another, the better the team will operate.

In his The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni points out one of the major consequences of failing to build trust in a team. When we trust one another, we can disagree with one another and know that we will still have each others’ backs. We know that the disagreement comes from a place that is focused on what’s best for the team.

But if that trust isn’t there, we can think that everybody is out for themselves. We don’t argue about things because we aren’t certain about our standing with one another. But it is in the conflict that the best ideas tend to rise to the top.

When I meet with couples before planning their wedding, we usually spend an hour talking about conflict and conflict resolution. One of the questions I often ask is, “How do you feel about conflict? And what is your approach to resolving conflict?”

Many times, these starry-eyed couples who are meeting with a pastor that they barely know want to put up a front of “everything is perfect in or relationship”. They claim that they never get into an argument, or that they never fight over anything serious. It’s total bullshit. And sometimes, I’ll even say as much.

Conflict is a good thing, as long as we establish some healthy rules and boundaries to help us work through the conflict. Healthy conflict is better than avoiding conflict 100% of the time. But it starts with trust.

So, whoever you are working closely with — whatever the scenario — focus on building a foundation of trust. When you do that, you will be able to weather the difficult times together and come out of them stronger.



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