Foundational to a good team is a mutual vulnerability that results in real, meaningful trust. Teams that trust each other in this way are going to act vastly different than those that don’t. They won’t be corporate robots; they’ll be a group of humans working together to do amazing work. Over time, and as this sort of trust really begins to take root on the team, team members begin to act like they believe their teammates’ intentions are usually good and that there’s not really a reason to be careful, cautious, or political around the team.
Think about that last part. There’s not really a reason to be careful, cautious, or political around the team. Big whoop, you might say. BFD. So what? What does it really matter?
The atmosphere on a team that’s embraced being vulnerable together, trusts each other, cares about each other, and together cares deeply about the team and organization–that team is going to look different than many teams. Instead of being robotic team members that are just trying to make it through the day without feeling much of anything, they’re more human, passionate, collaborative, and optimistic.
1. Teammates will readily and regularly ask for and offer help.
If people can get to the point where they’re vulnerable together, asking for or offering help becomes more commonplace and expected. I mean, why wouldn’t you ask for or offer help? You’re a group of imperfect humans trying to do great work together, and you each not only bring different weaknesses to the table, but also unique strengths. Trusting teams tap into those strengths together.
[bctt tweet=”Trusting teams tap into one another’s strengths. Distrusting teams don’t. #leadership”]
2. In general, folks will not assume that the others on the team are colluding against them in an Illuminati-like conspiracy meant to make their lives miserable or get them terminated.
Sideways glances diminish. People aren’t constantly looking over their shoulders. There becomes less and less of a reason for folks to assume that teammates are up to no good.
3. It starts looking like MTV’s Real World, minus the hot tubs (bummer), bikinis (probably for the best), frat boy on frat boy violence (funny watching those Justin Bieber hairdos get all messed up), and inordinate amounts of liquor (I’m not judging, but that show turned kids into barely-functional-and-often-not-functional-at-all alcoholics).
What I mean is that people decreasingly feel the need to put on a mask or facade. As a team begins to be truly human together, the impulse to hide our weaknesses and act like someone we’re not slowly begins to dissipate.
4. Instead of hiding mistakes and shortcomings, teammates are open about them.
I mean, if everyone on the team operates under the assumption that everyone else is human and flawed just like them, why wouldn’t you just be honest about the struggles you have? Of course you have struggles! You’re a human being, just like everyone else on the team. The team should be one of the safest places to be open about your faults, because on a team filled with vulnerable people, the impulse will be to rally around a struggling teammate rather than casting stones at them from afar.
[bctt tweet=”A truly vulnerable and trusting team will feel very safe to its members. #leadership”]
5. People fix interpersonal stuff.
Instead of letting it fester and turn into a years-long feud, teammates will humbly and openly speak with each other about interpersonal issues. They won’t let them build and build over time to the point where their department takes on a Hatfield-McCoy vibe.
A team like this — a team that cares enough about each other and the organization to be vulnerable with each other — is going to look and feel a lot different than one that refuses to be vulnerable and trusting.
So look around your team. Is this the sort of stuff you see? If it is, be encouraged. You’re probably headed in the right direction. If it’s not, you might want to consider going back to square one and working together on being vulnerable, open, and flawed together. Be human.