Sunday, March 25, 2007

Trust - The Essential Core Value

Stop, Think, Reflect…

Can you be trusted? How do you know?

What are the critical components to building trust in a relationship?

How do you approach trust: I trust until shown someone cannot be trusted? I do not trust until someone proves he/she can be trusted. What are the possible outcomes to each approach?

Describe high-trust behaviors versus low-trust behaviors.

When trust is high, what happens to fear? Conversely, when fear is high, what happens to trust?

How do these behaviors affect an organization’s financial bottom-line?


“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Sir Isaac Newton

A common theme in many of the current best selling books, Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams, The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman and The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki send the message for the need for more and better collaboration. For collaboration to be successful there is a need to create community built on trust. Webster defines trust as firm reliance on integrity, ability, or character in someone or something.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, survival is the primary need. To survive requires trust in ourselves as well as in others. To move to higher level of need - thriving, trust must excel. For trust to excel requires character, competence and connection.

Character is what others say about us. It is about reputation. It is not just how one behaves before others, but is consistent in behavior when alone. The way you react to finding a wallet in a room full of people hopefully mirrors the way you react to finding that wallet when you are by yourself. Character is the essential part of brand in developing, delivering and keeping a promise.

Competence as a part of trust is having the skills, knowledge and abilities to meet required needs. In today’s world, it is no longer about earning a living, but rather about learning a living. Competence is a verb, a continuous state of learning and growing.

Connection is bridge building. When we meet someone for the first time, usually conversation seeks to find connection. It is more than just getting along with people. At the highest level, it is about being interested in others rather than trying to be interesting to others. Consider the challenge of connection from the Prayer of Saint Francis, “Grant that I may not seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.”

Experience Trust

There are all kinds of trust initiatives, but perhaps the simplest experience gets to the heart of trust. It is important to clarify before beginning the initiative that people have the option of just observing.

Participants move around the room, meeting each participant eye-to-eye and make only one of three statements to a fellow participant:
- I trust you.
- I don not know if I trust you.
- I do not trust you.
No additional comment maybe made. No additional explanation is given.

After everyone has had a chance to encounter everyone, ask everyone to pause and write down what he/she just experienced. This is especially important for the introverts in attendance.

After a few minutes of personal reflection, break the larger group into uncommon small groups of three to five people to discuss this experience. Ask the participants to share what happened including what he/she felt and saw. Follow up with questions on why. Finally, ask for connections of this initiative back to the organization including internal and external customers, the organization’s vision and the organization’s processes.

When it feels right, ask the small groups to share with the whole group key points of discussion. Look for commonalities as well as unusual insights.

The challenge of this initiative to ask people to reflect on what he/she will stop doing, continue doing and start doing. Successful organizations have a nurturing, stimulating, trusting culture. What do participants take away form this initiative to apply to developing a better culture?

Suggested Reading

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey, Free Press, 2006, ISBN-10:0-7432-9730-X

The Cheating Culture by David Callahan, Harcourt, 2004, ISBN-10: 0151010188

The Enemies of Trust by Robert Galford and Anne Siebold Drapeau, Harvard Business Review, February 2003

Suggested Movies

Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery - Ken Burns - see -

Apollo 13 - "Houston, we have a problem."- see -

Friday, March 9, 2007

Youth Sports and Team Building

Stop, Think, Reflect...

What, when and where was your best youth sports team experience?

What made it a memorable experience?

What were relationships like with fellow teammates on the field and off the field?

What do you remember about the coach(s)?

How did the coach(s) help you with your skills? How did the coach(s) give you personal support? How did the coach(s) challenge you?

What were the most important things stressed by the coach(s)?

What were the life-long take away learnings from this experience?

Youth Sports and Team Building

Patrick Lencioni, best selling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Jossey-Bass, 2002), shares a story of his role as coach for an eight-year-old youth soccer team. He and his fellow coach took an unusual approach to drafting players to be on their team. (See Instead of looking at skills, speed, field-awareness, touch and other normal criteria, they decided to look at how the boys treated each other, how hard they tried, how respectful they were to the coach, and how they interacted with their parents!

As a result, Lencioni writes "First, our team is a team. They treat each other well, encourage one another, and seek out collective attention more than individual praise. Second, they're having fun. They don't complain about practices, and they enjoy being together. Third, their parents are having fun. Many of them have approached me and my assistant coach to tell us how pleasantly surprised they are about the positive environment on the team, and how much they enjoy being on the sideline with the other parents." In Lencioni's March 2007 quarterly newsletter, he reports the team ended up with 15 wins, 4 loses and 6 ties!

Competitors have to compete with several people. First, the individual competitor has to compete with him or herself. If a competitor (or coach) does not get "butterflies" before a game, he/she is truly not interested in the game, has no humility or is inhuman! Second, the competitor has to compete with the opposition, a given. Third, the competitor has to compete with the referees, umpires and judges. Referees, umpires and judges will make bad calls (hopefully unintentionally). Play has to rise above this possibility. Finally, the competitor has to compete with the opposing fans. Taunts, hateful remarks, teasing and poor behavior may come from this group. Again, the competitor has to rise above this.

The people a competitor should never have to compete with are friends and family, the coach(s) and team mates. When poor play occurs during the game, it should be these three sources who encourage and challenge the competitor to fail forward - learn from the mistake and become better from it. Coaches who practice an appreciative inquiry approach towards their players get a higher level of play. Appreciative Inquiry (see is recognizing the best in players and valuing the individual. Its about finding our what gives "life" and heightening human potential. Coaches who walk-the-talk and model-the-way, inspire team mates to act likewise to each other.

Successful teams have a culture of trust, respect, compassion, responsibility and a bold-hairy-audacious-goal (BHAG)! Before any team takes the field or court, the coach has to create this culture. It is equally important that parents and fans support this culture on and off the field or court. With a nurturing culture, teams get into that elusive, highly desirable "zone" that makes play smooth, natural, effortless and fun. When a team hits those tough periods, recovery becomes easier and quicker.

Experience Team Building

Objective: To challenge the process, to demonstrate the value of practice, to understand the need to give and receive support, to break assumptions and to stop negative thinking.

You'll need a several catchable items (balls, bean bags, foam objects) and a stop watch. Gather the team in a circle. Explain the rules for this exercise: 1.) Everyone must "catch" the item once except the first person to whom the item will return to in the end. 2.) Say the name of the person to whom the item will be "thrown". 3.) Receiver can not "throw" the item to the person on his/her immediate right or left. 4.) If the item is dropped, restart.

The facilitator hands an item to the person on his/her right and explains the rules. The facilitator steps out of the circle and tells the team to begin. Without telling the team, the facilitator starts the watch. Do not stop the watch until the all the rules have been met. Thus, if the item gets dropped, the team does a restart, but the clock continues. Note the behavior as well as the process for completing the task.

After a successful first round ask for feedback. What worked? What would be done differently? After a a brief discussion, report the time. Ask if the team can follow the same sequence, but complete the same task more quickly without any mistakes. Keep challenging the team's process. Sugggest you have seen teams move the item around even quicker and with two items! Finally, after the team has reached a greater level of success and the energy is running high introduce a third object - a raw egg! (You may want to keep an extra egg or two on hand for drops and restarts!)

Ask the team about their process. How did it feel to get better and faster? How is this like practice? When a team mate messed up the sequence, how did others respond? How is this like what happens on the field or court during a game? What happend when the raw egg was introduced? What does the raw egg remind you of at practice or during a game? When was there encouragement? How important was encouragement? How does encouragement affect play during practice and games? If it took the team a couple of minutes to have success during the first time, but only seconds for success for the final round, would the team have believed they could have accomplished this type of success after just the first time? How does this thinking compare to the upcoming season or during a game when the team is behind?

Suggested Reading

Season of Life: A Football Star, a Boy, a Journey to Manhood by Jeffery Marx (Simon & Schuster, 2004) ISBN-10: 0743269748

Suggested Movies

Goal! "On this team we pass the ball." - See

Beyond the Sidelines: Leadership Lessons with Jim Tressel "Leadership is about building relationships with others." - See

Glory Road "That's what happens when you don't talk to each other!" - See

Hoosiers "Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit: team, team, team - no one more important than the other." - See

Remember the Titans Coach Boone puts hand to his ear, "Will you ever quit?" Team replies, "No! We want some mo', we want some mo', we want some mo'!" - See

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Team Building Objectives

Ben Dattner, consultant and psychologist, on NPR's Morning Edition, Wednesday, February 28, 2007, spoke on team building. "Unfortunately, organizations frequently miss opportunities to actually build teams during team building. Dattner says." (See

The facilitator has a responsibility to the group desiring to build a team to understand the current culture of the team as well as desired objectives. The benefits of team building fall into three categories including the immediate, the short term and the long term.

Immediate benefits include fun, reduced stress, increased awareness and even improved skills. Short term benefits might be increased confidence, stronger relationships, increased employee satisfaction, higher morale, improved decision making and process improvement. Long term benefits might be reduced turnover, improved productivity, improved quality, greater customer satisfaction and improved ROI - Return on Investment!

I agree with Dattner that an off site event can be and should be fun (that should be a major component of any team building program, workshop, off site or retreat) but that is first level team building - energizing. Paint balling, white water rafting and other out-of-the-office activities can be energizing and deliver immediate benefits.

Deeper levels of team building move toward discovery, skill development and culture change. Many times these deeper levels of team building programs require more than one-day and may be an ongoing process. Probing, open-ended questions and assessment help to uncover what is going well as well as problems. Its always best to build upon what the group does well to help them build a strong team. Shelia Campbell and Merianne Liteman in their book Retreats That Work (Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2003) describe key elements for a successful team building program.

Be clear on expections and objectives for the retreat or program. Interview not only the team leader but participants before creating the program. Build-in a wide variety of intiatives, media and tools to help all types of learners. Create white space for people to noodle and reflect. Be open to possibilties. Sometimes during a team building program a discovery is made and there is a need to divert from the origional agenda. Things may go wrong. Be willing to forgive and work to make things right. Celebrate learnings and positive behaviors! What gets celebrated gets repeated! Finally, no program is complete without a meaningful close and action steps. What will individuals/team take away from the program. What will individuals/team stop doing? What will individuals/team continue doing? What will individuals/team start doing?