The Trust Window

PMI South Florida Chapter

William lives and works as an IT project manager in South Florida, and is a member of the South Florida chapter of PMI. He created StatisticalPERT.com.

In Patrick Lencioni’s pioneering book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, the first team dysfunction is absence of trust. Lencioni describes trust as “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.” (Lenioni, 2002, p. 195)

While I think Lencioni has illuminated one aspect of trust, I think it falls short of the multi-faceted way teams can evaluate their level of trust. Another way to express being vulnerable is to ask how much psychological safety does each team member have within the team? A trusting team has a high degree of psychological safety among all its members.

With such a team—no matter what is said or to whom it is said—if the communication is delivered with respect, the communication flow among teammates is unfettered and continuous. No one holds back. Everyone is engaged. No one is worried that their ideas for improvement will be called stupid. No one is worried about disagreeing with any other person on the team—even if that person is their boss!

I call this trust dynamic sense of safety. To have a team that is trusting, team members must have a strong sense of safety over their ideas, actions and behaviors. But there is a…

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"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who don't have it."

- George Bernard Shaw

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