Trust: Whose Got My Back? | Teams & Leaders | Empower Requires Safety

Tensions run high amidst people sometimes. Being a new body among established people’s relationships is a hairy ordeal. Tonight, a big realization came to light around a deep need that has been burning up my energy through tensions, stress, worries, suspicions, and fears. Normally, these would be manageable and not cause much problem; in this case, existing circumstances did a lot to add to the mess.

One person says something out of turn. It’s tone, delivery, and perceived intent is to warn not to trust someone. On the one hand, this might save from disaster, while on the other hand, this casts doubt on who to trust. This is bad medicine for any organization or team, and must be addressed decisively. Not to kill, martyr, or make examples. This is where the realization of what has really been troubling me suddenly revealed its’ source, value, and desire.

Base-brat growing up, a short military stint myself, and having lived pretty-much from one coast to another in some fashion or other, coming to new communities and trying to “connect” in social groups has been nothing short of painful. Social groups – you know – those little cliques we all had with our friends growing up. When we were with them we followed along, we teased, and sometimes bullied physically. I had to learn to fight back. I never liked it. 🙂   Still don’t.
Fighting back is a necessary skill in life. It is a skill that can be robbed of any child or youth – to some degree or another.  When a Father decks you for defending yourself, with the promise of more for any further fighting, you replace your fists with feet in running shoes. The tragedy here is that as an individual in this life, you no longer know who you can trust. The one you ought to trust didn’t protect, and also took away your only form of defence. The one’s chasing you, are ignorant to what they are doing, even though some will fight with a conscience.

I’m sharing this with you tonight because it is critically important to develop a good team. People need to be able to trust one another. I need to know you’ve got my back. You need to know I’ve got your back. When rumour, accusations, and ambiguity arise – particularly for any new staff – and there are no avenues of clear and safe conversation, the sense of safety and security in the new environment gets stretched thinner and thinner with every twist or phrase that could be taken out of context.

Create that lack of safety, create more highly-attuned-and-overly-sensitive people who are on high alert and jumping at every alarm. Having a teammate throw me to the wolves as a scapegoat, having heard a rumour, having circumstances and events create and add to that uncertainty has demonstrated this fact loud and clear. Create a team where everyone truly creates that safe place to screw up, fix up, contribute, speak up, ask dumb questions, and not get laughed at, and you’ll create a powerful and creative unit that can function at higher peaks of concentration, effectiveness, and efficiency.

The military and a few other groups I was privy to join demonstrated strong examples of safe teams and leaders as described. Equally, I’ve experienced the opposite spectrum and some in-betweens, too. Again, communication has always been the key. Sometimes, listening and hearing the tale underneath the reasons reveals a lot of ghastly thoughts regarding misunderstood circumstances that simply needed to be aired. Too often, our defences prevent us from hearing and bringing a relationship closer, and we drive it further apart.

Ironically, creating that safe place to sit and talk, to listen and hear, to discover and build is the very thing we all long for in our heart. To become ALL that we can be, to Be All that we Are: It is to give and receive in such a way that every need is met, and lives are fulfilled. Instead of harbouring uncertainty and ambiguous or nebulous angst, it is given voice to be blown away by the wind of forging a relationship of value. Foundation set, the future rises more powerfully.


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