Simon Terry

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Two Paths to Trust

There are two paths to trust. The first is a path of ease, sameness and stability. The more sustainable path is the more challenging, the path of understanding.

In corporate life, I occasionally met a manager who had a team. Whatever role they took on, they brought with them the core of a team from their previous role. In some cases the managers and teams had been working together for years through multiple roles and organisations. What these teams gained in effectiveness through long relationships, they lost more in new ideas and inability to change their relationships.  In many cases the junior partners in these teams were being held back to burnish the glory of their bosses.

Trust with people who are the same as you is far easier. When you begin with little diversity in the team, there are fewer conflicts to iron out. The differences is worldview, style and approach are narrower. There are less likely to be shocks and patterns of decisions are easily implemented based on a shared history. Teams like these exist across the business world and they have advantages in the speed with which they come together. We are psychologically predisposed to recruit people just like us.

However, teams without diversity underperform. Study after study suggests that greater diversity improves team and organisational performance. One key reasons is because diversity gives rise to great bases for conflict. Ideas are less likely to be accepted. People challenge the applicability of patterns and history. There are more inputs available and people are more aware of the diversity of circumstances around their organisation. More time must be invested in debate and understanding. Better decisions result. Importantly, when team members are not just a mini me, their individual needs and potential can be considered.  Team members have the opportunity to realise their potential.

Creating high levels of trust in a diverse team is more challenging. It takes effort, conflicts and richer understanding of each individual.  Any team is better for that effort.


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