Build a high-performing team with trust, vulnerability

Meetings, conference calls, workshops – it seems as if you’re never alone in your office to complete your work.

More often than not, our tasks involve working with others – working on teams.

While some of us may enjoy the process of “teaming,” the concept often is met with frustration.

It’s understandable. Having various personalities in a room competing for their individual stances can be overwhelming and time-consuming.

Not to mention the energy that goes into appeasing (or ignoring) the tension and conflict between teammates, as well as the time it takes afterward to gripe with others about how the meeting went.

There must be a better way.

What if all teams were high performers? What if they achieved great results in a timely fashion, all while being fun and energizing members of the team?

What if, on top of that, meetings were something the team looked forward to attending?

It may seem impossible, but it is not. Through the power of vulnerability and trust, you have the opportunity to transform teams and how they function.


The foundation of any high-performing team is trust. If you trust the team members – truly trust them – you can talk about nearly anything.

You can healthily debate which marketing ad you should run and why. You can give honest feedback about a conversation that didn’t go well.

And, most importantly, you can cut through the artificial harmony that sabotages decision-making, productivity and relationships.

Let’s be honest. People don’t like working on teams because it’s uncomfortable to hold others accountable for their commitments when they are slacking.

But if you have relationships built on trust and vulnerability, it’s much easier to nudge Charlie and remind him about the deadline he missed last week.


In his book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Pat Lencioni highlights the importance of trust within teams. Without trust, Lencioni writes, teams cannot provide a safe space for courageous dialogue nor can they leverage individuals’ strengths for the progress of the team as a whole.

In essence, the entire purpose of bringing teams together becomes null and void.

Without leveraging the many differences of various people to create greater outcomes than one could alone, the purpose of the team is lost.


What can leaders do to create trust among team members?

First, get to know ourselves better. Being aware of our reactions, behaviors and nuances allows us the opportunity to see ourselves as others see us.

Using this information, we can adapt our behaviors to better fit specific situations we may encounter with others.


Once we increase self-awareness, it is important to know and understand team members, too.

By understanding what makes your co-workers tick, you can adapt your language, tone and behaviors to bring out the best in others.

When teammates feel comfortable being their true selves around you, it gives them permission to present opposing opinions or to ask for help. It allows the person the ability to be vulnerable.


Lastly, become better communicators.

Are we empathetic listeners? Or do we listen with the intent to rebut and be heard ourselves? Are we open to what is being said to us?

Do we let questionable behavior slip through the cracks? Or do we initiate those difficult conversations about changes that need to be made?

Communication is not just about what you say and how you say it – it’s about all of those signals we portray every day to our teams, whether or not you mean to.


By focusing on these three areas, team members will see you are committed to them as individuals and committed to doing right for the team.

Teams will flourish, uninhibited by tension that typically comes along with working in groups.

Meetings will be productive and energizing, inspiring commitment to achievement, as well as accountability.

Through increasing trust and minimizing the disharmony, your team can skip the grumbling at the water cooler after meetings and, instead, jump back into work, excited for the progress the team can make.

Cheyenne Bennett is a leadership and talent coach at Compass Point Consulting LLC in Hanover Township, Northampton County, which provides growth and transition consulting to family businesses. She is a certified coach with DiSC and is experienced with Myers-Briggs and Gallup StrengthsFinder. She can be reached at 610-336-0514 or

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