Team Building and Trust for Leadership
April 27, 2014
Why is team building and trust important to leadership? First let’s identify what a team is before we explore the important components a team must possess. Northouse (2013, p. 287) describes teams as, “a specific type of group composed of members who are interdependent, who share common goals, and who must coordinate their activities to accomplish these goals.” A team comprises people from a variety of backgrounds. It’s in those diverse backgrounds that offer a multitude of perspectives and hopefully a collaboration of wildly diverse thinking. Working with people who differ from each other challenges people’s preconceived notions about life and it forces people to step outside their comfort zones and consider new thought processes. By opening people up to new ways of thinking, organizations can use teams to achieve new ideas, new processes, new services, and new products. At best, organizations can effectively use teams to achieve a greater purpose.
“Research on the effectiveness of organizational teams has suggested that the use of teams has led to greater productivity, a more effective use of resources, better decisions and problem solving, better-quality products and services, and greater innovation and creativity” (Parker, 1990).
A team environment fosters the combination of expertise and experience of the organization’s employees. The organization benefits from the synergy of group decision-making, as teams can accomplish more together than individually. A good team functions as a single organism. So how does a group of diverse people come together to achieve success? It’s the task of the leader to encourage trust within the group, while laying a foundation for team building to promote communication and group cohesiveness. Team building and trust in leadership are very important in producing an effective team. Team members need to feel as though they are part of a team and team building skills achieves this, especially in diverse groups where members feel they are different. Team building helps all members understand that their role is important and opens up lines of communication within a group. Team building also increases the trust factor with employees. Sometimes within an organization there’s the presence of disconnect between the leadership team and employees because the employees sense to large a gap between the two. Team building exercises give leadership the opportunity to be seen as a colleague rather than a boss, which can essentially do wonders for employee morale.
“The ability of a team to collaborate is essential to team effectiveness. A collaborative climate is one in which members can stay problem focused, listen to and understand one another, feel free to take risks, and be willing to compensate for one another. To build an atmosphere that fosters collaboration, we need to develop trusting relationships based on honesty, openness, consistency, and respect” (Larson & LaFasto, 1989).
Team leadership and team building go hand in hand. The more comfortable employees are to express their ideas and opinions, the more confident they will become. This will motivate them to take on new challenges. Leaders can also use empowerment to boost confidence and team cohesiveness. “Empowerment builds followers’ confidence in their own capacities to think and act on their own because they are given the freedom to handle difficult situations in the way they feel best” (Northouse 2013, p 229). Team building is a very important process for teams to journey through because it helps unify the members into one working entity. Another important aspect teams must possess is trust. A team without trust isn’t really a team; it’s simply just a group of individuals working together. When teams have a strong foundation of