• Simon Phillips

Trust Anchors Every Successful Collaborative Team

In our new book "Change Wisdom", Julia Felton writes about Trust and it's role in change.

In this last of four articles discussing trust, she considers why it is critical to successful teamwork.

Trust “is both a mindset and a toolbox for 21st-century leadership”. Robert A. McDonald, Chairman, President and CEO, The Procter & Gamble Company

In today’s networked world, Trust has become the new currency – the critical competency for individuals, teams, organisations and even countries. Trust impacts every situation and relationship whether personal or professional.

Trust acts like a lubricant. It reduces friction and creates conditions for evolving high performance teams. How well the team works together is the true indicator of future success or the ability to manage through the struggle of relentless change. Without trust there would be no harmony in the team and business and dis-ease would prevail.

When we work in a high trust team things get done quicker and more easily. There is less conflict, less back-stabbing, less politics and more time spent on value added activities like innovative and customer service.

However, trust within teams does not happen overnight. As Joachim Low, the winning German Football Team World Cup coach noted “We’ve been together now for 55 days. We started this project 10 years ago, so this is the result of many years’ work, beginning with Jurgen Klinsmann. We’ve continued that work and our strength has been our constant progress. We’d not made this ultimate step before, but champions do what they will do. We believed we’d win it. We’re looking back over ten years of preparation and hard work. This team has developed a spirit which is unbelievable. We’re proud to be the first European team to win a title in Latin America, in Rio, in Brazil, in a footballing country par excellence… and this makes us proud.”

So what are the four key actions that team members must cultivate if they are to build and maintain trust with their fellow team members:


Commitment is an important part of building trust. Every team member must acknowledge they play an important role in creating the success of the team and helping it achieve its goals. When one team member fails to deliver it has a knock on effect on everyone else in the team. This is why no matter if personal or professional obstacles present them team members must seek ways to keep their commitment to the team. Just as they need to rely on others, others must be able to rely on them.


Team members must trust that their teammates are competent and can successfully complete the tasks relevant to the team’s success. For example, each team member should be able to focus on an assigned task without worrying about teammates following through with their assigned tasks. Individual team members must realise when they need help and ask for it, instead of concealing weaknesses from the group. When team members show vulnerability to their teammates and the teammates respond in an efficient and helpful manner, trust will grow between them.


Consistent and meaningful communication is necessary for building a trusting relationship within a team. For instance, if a team member finishes a task early, they should communicate to their teammates that they are finished and ask if they can help another team member with their part of the work. If one team member discovers vital information that is relevant to the team’s success, such as a deadline change or a lack of resources, they should communicate it to the other members as soon as possible.


True collaboration won’t happen without a sense of trust between team members. When team members collaborate, they share creative ideas without fear that another team member will take credit for their ideas. Through collaboration innovative ideas are born. It is definitely a case of 1+1=3. When team members trust each other they are more likely to show their vulnerability, which in turn will build more trust within the team.

In summary trust anchors every successful team. When team members demonstrate commitment, competency, communication and collaboration then others will trust them and superior performance will result both in terms of productivity and profitability. However, when a team is forming who do you trust? In the words of Ernest Hemingway “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”. Building trust is a two way street as you need to give trust in order to get it.

Julia Felton is a leadership development consultant, trainer and author. She maintains a small herd of horses who act as leadership coaches.

This article is based upon Julia's chapter in our book "Change Wisdom" available globally from Amazon or here.



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