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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 4)

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


June 26, 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 (

Adaptive Schools trainers are familiar with part of this research on the quest to build the perfect team. In the Foundation Seminar, trainers show a series of slides about team composition. Those slides point out that it is not so much the team composition that is important, but the team’s norms of collaboration that are important as indicators of success. What Google discovered through the Aristotle Project was that the best teams have members who care for and listen to one another.

Trust plays an important role in creating the emotional and psychological safety that Project Aristotle identified as the petri dish for team success. “What Project Aristotle has taught people within Google is that no one wants to put on a ‘‘work face’’ when (s)he gets to the office. No one wants to leave part of his/her personality and inner life at home. But to be fully present at work, to feel ‘‘psychologically safe,’’ we must know that we can be free enough, sometimes, to

share the things that scare us without fear of recriminations” (p 13). Google further defined psychological safety this way, “Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?” That openness and vulnerability, that trust in one another, was a gateway to emotional and psychological safety and ultimately to team success. Project Aristotle identified the behaviors that led to trust-building: conversational turn-taking and empathy. They also cited balanced participation as a key ingredient. Each morning, the team would have a “check-in” or a “grounding” to help members focus the mental energy in the “here and now.” It was a way to ensure those trust bonds and to let teammates know that they are heard and more important than labor.

Rapport, BMIRS, eye-accessing cues, empathy, authentic, full-faced listening, Paraphrasing, Paying Attention to Self and Others, Presuming Positive Intentions, and personal risk taking are some of the ways for a team to establish trust. In a 1999 study, Amy Edmondson wrote this about psychological safety, ‘‘It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and

mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves’’ (p 9).

Bryk, A.S., & Schneider, B. (2003), Trust In Schools: A Core Resource for School Reform, Educational Leadership, 60(6), 40-45.

Duhigg, Charles. “What Google Learned from its Quest to Build the Perfect Team.” New York Times. February 25, 2016.

Destini, Martin and Michelle Pourchot, Rachel Blundell, and Kimberly Ross. “Trusting Collegial Relationships Build Strengths in Learning Systems.” (Learning Forward, February 24, 2017).

Lencioni, Patrick. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Random House: New York. 2002.

Tschannen-Moran, Megan. Trust Matters: Leadership For Successful Schools. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, California. 2nd edition. 2014.

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