Roles of Trust and Conflict in Commitment for Team Dynamics
The roles of trust and conflict in commitment of your team members are critical and should be well understood by anyone who needs to lead a team.
First Comes Trust
In his best-selling book on team-building, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni famously describes the lack of trust as the primary reason that teams fail. Trust is defined by Merriam-Webster as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Without it you can’t depend on your co-workers to be ethical, capable, strong, or truthful.
Basically, it is almost impossible to build a winning team when there is an absence of trust. If you do not have enough psychological team safety, back-channeling and workplace politics will crush you.
The Inevitability of Conflict
Whenever there are people gathered together, there is bound to be some level of disagreement. Even on high performing teams, there are differences, challenges, and issues that must be resolved.
At its core, unhealthy conflict impedes people’s ability to perform at the best. It most often occurs in situations where teams are lacking in trust, have unclear roles, and are deficient in emotional intelligence skills. This causes too many disagreements to get emotional, personal, abusive, and accusatory.
In unhealthy conflicts, sides typically walk away without coming to a mutual understanding. This tends to lead to inferior decisions and misalignment. In our opinion, no team can withstand unhealthy conflict for long because resentment grows, trust disintegrates, and employee engagement suffers.
Different than unhealthy conflict, there are productive ways for individuals and teams to disagree and positively contribute to success. When coworkers trust one another, they are not fearful of expressing their opinions and offering new ideas. They are respectful of one another as they disagree, question, and challenge.
Why? Because they trust each other and the process enough to uncover a fair and equitable solution. Healthy conflict is fundamental to a team being able to explore viable alternatives and reach its full potential.
Healthy Conflict Leads to Strong Levels of Commitment
At some point in our lives, most of us have made a half-hearted commitment. At work, weak commitments deeply undermine high performance cultures and often arise when open debate is minimized, and the full ranges of concerns are not adequately addressed. Without healthy conflict, it is challenging for people to buy into changes, make difficult decisions, solve complex problems, or agree upon new directions.
The Bottom Line
As a team leader, are you afraid of being vulnerable or of having disagreements on your team? If you truly want the kind of follow-through commitment required to create higher performance, you need to support an atmosphere where constructive debate is welcomed. Trust first, healthy conflict next, and true commitment will follow.
To learn more about the roles of trust and conflict in commitment, download 29 Ways to Build and Maintain Trust as a Leader
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