In a section of his book on leadership called ‘Hallmarks of Team Excellence’ John Adair (Adair, 2002), a leading writer on the subject, provides the following very reasonable broad description of trust and support:
A good team trusts its members to pursue their part in the common task. Appreciation is expressed and recognition is given. People play to each other’s strengths and cover each other’s weaknesses. The level of mutual support is high. The atmosphere is one of openness and trust. (p161)
The general heading of ‘Hallmarks’ is telling, it is static and this is often the case in how trust is written about. Although it is a description that I can relate to and seems ‘obvious’ it lacks something essential. What we are interested in are the rich descriptions of the sense of movement as we negotiate our ways round and into trusting relationships. Here the micro-interactions are important: what we do, how these actions are reacted to and how these lead to further interactions. And why we sometimes get stuck. Then there are the actions that we can take to change those relationships, how we relate to each other and how these in turn come to affect and hopefully improve our trusting relationships.
Adair J (2002) Effective strategic leadership – An essential path to success guided by the worlds great leaders. London: Macmillan.