Over my career, I’ve been part of several great teams filled with amazing, bright people who helped hone my perspective while challenging me.

The foundation for our success was always trust. I realize that this is so apparent that it almost needn’t be said.

But it does.

And that’s because the concept of trust in the workplace often falls short of its potential. Many people—sometimes myself included—decide that they own a certain field and that because of their position they need to have the last word in a given situation. Normally this would be fine, but I offer that this feeling and the ensuing behavior prevents effective teamwork. And we all know we cannot do great things alone. We can only do them together.

It’s one thing to encourage trust among your team members, but it’s quite another to allow one another to reveal weaknesses and to plan on how to compensate for so-called gaps. It is often hard for people to reveal their vulnerabilities or to recognize the vulnerability of others.

I’ve found that this recognition and admission strengthens the trust that’s required for us to function at the highest levels without fear, and without the need for anyone to assert power.

This thinking can be counterintuitive to an egoist or self-preservationist who may expend their energy crafting the appearance of blameless perfection. But this kind of behavior breaks down trust because it involves pretense.

That’s why I offer that we should all try to foster an environment in which people can reveal their vulnerabilities and the difficulties they are facing. Then they can focus on what they are best at doing.

Sharing in this way is  a benefit to the people involved and to the company because it sends the very clear—and decidedly respectful—message that people  are permitted to be human beings, even in our increasingly high-stakes, high-stress work world.

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