How to Build Trust That Will Bind Your Team Together

How do you help your staff work together as a true team, not just a collection of individuals?

Mention the word “team” and most people think in context of a sports activity. That may be the primary association with a team – a group of people we observe or cheer for, but in some way, everyone works together with others to achieve a goal: families, schools, businesses, non-profits – these are all teams.

Your church staff is a team as well. Are your leaders functioning in unison as a team or operating individually as a collection of individuals?

When you are part of a team, you’re not giving up your individual goals or sacrificing your personal success. Instead, team members set their sights on an even higher goal in order to magnify greater success.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams.

Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech’s CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni’s utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.

Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions that go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.


As leaders advance in their education and careers, many find it difficult to trust other members of their teams. After all, success often comes soonest to those who are competitors – even with their own teammates. Success also makes individuals protective of their reputations. Having arrived at the “top,” many leaders find it difficult to turn off the very instincts that got them there for the good of the team.

A high level of trust allows people to say what is on their minds and not feel that it will come back to hurt them. A sufficient level of trust ensures that the lines of communication are open and that no one is hiding information or wasting time trying to decide the implications of his or her view.

The costs of failing to do this are great: wasted time and energy, reluctant risk-taking, lack of communication and coordination, and low morale. Trust is necessary if people are to be open and candid about the things that have gone wrong – and accurate about what is going right.

Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, teamwork is all but impossible.

Trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.

Trust requires shared experiences over time, multiple instances of follow-through and credibility, and an in-depth understanding of the unique attributes of team members.

As “soft” as all of this might sound, it is only when team members are truly comfortable being exposed to one another that they begin to ac without concern for protecting themselves. As a result, they can focus their energy and attention completely on the job at hand, rather than on being strategically disingenuous or political with one another.

Members of trusting teams:

Admit weaknesses and mistakes

Ask for help

Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility

Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion

Take risks in offering feedback and assistance

Appreciate and tap into one another’s skills and experience

Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics

Offer and accept apologies without hesitation

Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group.

Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team


Some of the most effective and lasting tools of building trust on a team are profiles of team members’ behavioral preferences and personality styles. These help break down barriers by allowing people to better understand and empathize with one another.

Dozens of assessments, profiles, tests, and indicators have been developed to help individuals and teams understand more about their own personality and that of their teammates.

At their simplest, all these different methods consider two things:

  1. How you relate to others.
  2. How you respond to opportunities.

Looking at these two areas will help you gain a better understanding of your personality characteristics.

If your church currently uses some type of personality assessment, when is the last time you discussed your team’s personality mix?

If it has been over six months, or if you have new team members, it’s time for a new assessment.

Here is a brief recap about the type of personality assessment Auxano uses in our consultations with churches, The Insights Discovery Profile.

Though there are variations of each color (based on your secondary color), the tool helps team members know their towering personality when it comes to serving on a team. The tool focuses on the strengths of each personality type, while also giving insight into the potential downsides of each.

A “red” is strong-willed and purposeful, a “yellow” is enthusiastic and persuasive. A “blue” is precise and deliberate, and a “green” is encouraging and sharing.

It would be a mistake to think that only a “red” can lead a team. Successful teams have a diversity of colors indicating a diversity of personality style. Good leaders appreciate the effectiveness of team members who are wired differently. Not all leaders are wired the same way. Here are the leadership personalities of each color.

Red: Directional leadership

Some are wired, and feel most comfortable, providing directional leadership. Clarity is the gift a directional leader gives to an organization. A directional leader is driven by purpose, values bright and helpful ideas, and is determined to push things forward. Without directional leaders on a team, purpose and direction will wane over time.

Yellow: Inspirational leadership

Some are built to inspire others. While a directional leader leads with the strength of the idea or the mission, an inspirational leader leads with relationships. An inspirational leader excels at investing in people and inspiring people for action. Without inspirational leaders on a team, mission can feel mechanical and purpose can feel cold.

Blue: Operational leadership

Some are built to build processes and systems that enable the organization to succeed. An operational leader has the ability to create culture and serve people by wisely implementing structures and systems that help. Without operational leaders on a team, mission will not gain traction, as there will not be systems beneath the surface.

Green: Collaborative leadership

Some are built to build consensus, collaboration, and encourage team members in the midst of exciting or challenging times. A collaborative leader excels at lateral leadership, bringing others together who are not in his or her “reporting line.” A collaborative leader makes everyone better and has the trust of the team. Without collaborative leaders on a team, silos can develop and team unity can suffer.

Hopefully the team you lead and the team you are on is a diverse mix of leadership personalities. If not, something is missing. People who are different than you make you better.

Learn more about the Insights Discovery Profile here. For a more through and guided assessment, contact us for a discussion about the Insights Discovery Profile.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 60-3, February 2017


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.


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