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.


12 Best Books of 2012

Making a “Best of” list is always hard – it’s a very subjective process, driven by my personal tastes, professional needs, and plain curiosity.

I’ve always been a voracious reader – a cherished habit passed down to me by my late father. In the past year, though, I’ve been able to ramp it up considerably because of my role as Vision Room Curator.

It’s not only a pleasure to read, it’s part of my job description – how cool is that?

Even so, it’s also hard to narrow it a “Best of” list down: in 2012, my reading included:

  • 127 books checked out from my local library
  • 68 print books purchased
  • 31 books received for review
  • 75 digital books on my Kindle

I also perused dozens of bookstores on my travels, writing down 63 titles for future review and/or acquisition. There are also a lot of late releases just coming out that I don’t have time to take a look at – yet. Be that as it may, here is my list of my 12 favorite books published in 2012.

Outside In

  Outside In

Guest Experiences for ChurchWorld is my passion, and this book by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine will provide churches a “go-to” manual for years to come


Deep and Wide

Deep and Wide

Andy Stanley and Northpoint Ministries have a solid model that all churches would do well to study – not to duplicate, but to understand how to impact your community for Christ.


Center Church

Center Church

Tim Keller delivers a textbook for doing church; possibly the most important church theology/leadership/practical book in a decade


The Advantage

   The Advantage

Patrick Lencioni captures the concept of clarity (he uses the phrase “organizational health”) like no business thinker today


The Icarus Deception

   The Icarus Deception

Seth Godin’s most recent book is probably the most challenging personal one I’ve read – and that’s saying a lot!


The Lego Principle

   The LEGO Principle

Joey Bonifacio writes in a simple, profound way about the importance of “connecting” in relationships that lead to discipleship


Missional Moves

   Missional Moves

Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder in a quiet, unassuming way, illustrate how Granger Community Church is transforming into a community of believers reaching their community – and the world.


Lead with a Story

Lead with a Story

Paul Smith delivers a powerful tool to enhance the leader’s skill in storytelling.


Design Like Apple

Design Like Apple

John Edson delivers a stunningly designed book that challenges the reader to understand and utilize Apple’s principles of design



Better Together

   Better Together

Church mergers (and closings) are going to be a huge event in the next decade; Jim Tomberlin and Warren Bird give an excellent resource on how to survive and thrive throughout the process.




Susan Cain writes the book I’ve been waiting for over 30 years – because I am an introvert leader.



Midnight Lunch

   Midnight Lunch

Sarah Miller Caldicott delivers a powerful primer for collaborative teamwork.



HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

   HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations

Nancy Duarte is not just a great writer – she knows how to deliver a great presentation from the first idea to the final applause.



Okay, it’s not 12 – but it is a baker’s dozen!

Let’s see – there’s still over 2 weeks left in 2012 – plenty of time to find a good book – what do you recommend?

Four Disciplines of Organizational Health

An organization doesn’t become healthy in a linear, tidy fashion.

– Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

Patrick Lencioni’s latest book The Advantage is a comprehensive, practical guide, covering many of the topics introduced in one of his eight business fable books. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is just a repackaging – The Advantage goes far beyond that. In it you will find some very practical, hands-on tools to help your organization become healthy.

Previous posts here and here introduced the book. The central theme of the book is today’s topic: The Four Disciplines Model. Here is Lencioni’s overview of the Four Disciplines.

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are chartered with running it are not behaviorally cohesive in five fundamental ways. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation, from a small, entrepreneurial company to a church or a school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top inevitably lead to a lack of health throughout.

Discipline 2: Create Clarity

In addition to being behaviorlly cohesive, the leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to six simple but critical questions. There can be no daylight between leaders around these fundamental issues.

Discipline 3: Overcommunicate Clarity

Once a leadership team has established behavioral cohesion and created clarity around the answers to those questions, it must then communicate those answers to the rest of the organization clearly, repeatedly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly (that’s no typo). When it comes to reinforcing clarity, there is no such thing as too much communication.

Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity

Finally, in order for an organization to remain healthy over time, its leaders must establish a few critical, non-bureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity in every process that involves people. Every policy, every program, every activity should be designed to remind your team what is really most important.

I hope today’s post and the previous two have enticed you to get The Advantage. The book certainly stands alone, but there is also a great deal of web content available on organizational health.

What are you waiting on?

The health of your organization is at stake!

Smart vs. Healthy

Being smart is only half the equation in a successful organization. Yet it somehow occupies almost all the time, energy, and attention of most leaders. The other half of the equation, the one that is largely neglected, is about being healthy.

– Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

In Patrick Lencioni’s latest book The Advantage, you will find the following chart:

Lencioni comments: “Whenever I list the qualities for leaders, I usually get one of the following reactions, and sometimes both. Often they laugh quietly, in a nervous. almost guilty kind of way. Or they barely sigh, like parents do when they hear about a family where the kids do what they’re told the first time they’re asked. In either case, it’s as thought they’re thinking, ‘Wouldn’t that be nice?’ or, ‘Can you imagine?’

None of the leaders – even the most cynical ones – deny that their organizations would be transformed if they could achieve the characteristics fo a healthy organization. Yet they almost always gravitate to the left side of the chart above, retreating to the safe, measurable “smart” side of the equation.


Because it’s relatively safe and predictable, which most leaders prefer. That’s how they’ve been trained, and that’s where they’re comfortable.

It takes discipline to move beyond the safe and predictable, into the sometimes awkward and messy area of organizational health.

Tomorrow: Four Disciplines of Organizational Health

Adapted from The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni

The Case for Organizational Health

The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.

– Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

With that bold statement, Patrick Lencioni delivers perhaps his finest work to date – no mean feat considering that his eight business fables remain required reading for leaders in any organization – especially ChurchWorld.

Instead of trying to become smarter, Lencioni asserts that leaders and organizations need to shift their focus to becoming healthier, allowing them to tap into the more-than-sufficient intelligence and expertise they  already have.

What’s the secret to discovering organizational health? Or to put it more bluntly, why do leaders struggle to embrace it?

According to Lencioni, it’s because too many leaders quietly believe they are too sophisticated, too busy, or too analytical to bother with it. In other words, they think it’s beneath them. Before leaders can tap into the power of organizational health, they must humble themselves enough to overcome the three biases that prevent them from embracing it:

  • The Sophistication Bias: organization health is so simple and accessible that many leaders have a hard time seeing it as a real opportunity for meaningful advantage. It doesn’t require great intelligence or sophistication – just uncommon levels of discipline, courage, persistence, and common sense.
  • The Adrenaline Bias: becoming a healthy organization takes a little time; unfortunately, too many leaders suffer from adrenaline addiction, hooked on the daily rush of activity and firefighting within their own organizations.
  • The Quantification Bias: the benefits of becoming a healthy organization are difficult to accurately quantify. It requires a level of conviction and intuition that many overly analytical leaders have a hard time accepting.

To close this post, possibly one of the boldest, most audacious quotes you will ever hear or read:

Once organizational health is properly understood and placed into the right context, it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Really.

Tomorrow: Would you rather be smart or healthy?

(Brain) Death by Meeting

Participants in organizations around the world have long suspected it, but now there is some evidence to back it up:

Meetings may make you “brain dead.”

“You may joke about how committee meetings make you feel brain-dead, but our findings suggest that they may make you act brain-dead as well,” Read Montague, the study leader, wrote in the Carilion, a Virginia Tech Research Institute publication.

Somewhere, Patrick Lencioni is smiling.

Lencioni, a noted author, speaker, and consultant on leadership and organizational principles, wrote a book in 2004 entitled “Death by Meeting.”

Even though It’s been around awhile, it’s worth taking a look at – and one of the best ways to do that is by taking a quiz.

Here’s the quiz; go ahead and take it – I’ll wait. 

Back already? You must have a meeting to go to! Or else you figured out that his suggested answers are on the next page of the quiz.

Lencioni believes that there are four basic types of meetings:

  • Daily Check-in, lasting 5-10 minutes
  • Weekly Tactical, lasting 45-90 minutes
  • Monthly Strategic, lasting 2-4 hours
  • Quarterly Off-Site Review, lasting 1-2 days

Check here for a complete description. Looking for quick tips for effective meetings? Check out these 5 great ideas.

Remember – as a leader, the meetings you run are a direct reflection on your leadership skills, preparation, and effectiveness.

And you don’t want any brain-dead team members around the table.