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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Trust (Part 2)

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


June 12, 2017

noun on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

2.confident expectation of something; hope.

3.confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit (

Patrick Lencioni describes five team “dysfunctions” in what he calls a “leadership fable.” The elements of a dysfunctional team are:

1. Absence of trust

2. Fear of conflict

3. Lack of commitment

4. Avoidance of Accountability

5. Inattention to results

In the “Five Dysfunction of a Team Facilitator’s Guide,” Lencioni writes, “The first and most important dysfunction a team must learn to overcome is absence of trust. Trust is all about vulnerability. Team members who trust one another can be comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another around their failures, weaknesses, even fears.”

The author stresses that if team members are not “afraid to admit the truth about themselves (they) are not going to engage in the kind of political behavior that wastes everyone’s time and energy, and, more important makes the accomplishment of results an unlikely scenario.” Lencioni believes that team members must be comfortable being vulnerable and unafraid to be open and honest with one another. They must be willing to task risks and to make mistakes. They need to be comfortable saying to one another things like, “I need help,” or even “I was wrong.” Megan Tschannen-Moran, in Trust Matters, writes that when mistakes are made and trust is broken, individuals must follow the “Four A’s of Absolution. Individuals must be brave enough to “admit they are wrong,” “apologize,” “ask for forgiveness,” and “amend their ways.” Demonstrations of credibility, honesty, integrity, and vulnerability open the way to the dispositional Norms of Collaboration, “presuming positive intentions” and “paying attention to self and others.”

Lencioni states the negative effects of a team without trust. In an attempt to positively reframe those possible behaviors, his original list from the Facilitator’s Guide has been modified. When trust exists, team members will:

• Reveal their weaknesses and mistakes to one another

• Ask for help or provide constructive feedback

• Offer help to people outside of their own areas of responsibility

• Presume positive intentions and aptitudes of others

• Recognize and tap into one another’s skills and experiences

• Maximize time and energy managing their behaviors for effect

• Forgive and move forward

• Look for opportunities to be collegial and demonstrate personal regard for each other

All in all, Lencioni’s book further demonstrates the need for trust in adaptive, high functioning organizations and in schools where climate has a direct effect on student achievement.

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