The plague of unity
You cannot have unity without trust. You cannot have trust without truth. Define, disciple and discipline around your core values.
Not that long ago I was speaking with a person in a position of leadership (PIAPOL) and we were discussing why a local team was struggling with unity. I asked this tenured PIAPOL if they understood the foundation of unity within a team. My friend looked at me quizzically and stated that they did not.
I shared that there is no unity without trust. My friend agreed, “That’s true you need trust if people are going to work together.”
We expanded our conversation by asking, where does trust come from? Similar response to my prior question so we discussed that the basis of trust is being able to rely on you to do what you say.
For example, if you tell me that you are going to sweep the floor, I should be able to trust that you are going to be able to sweep the floor. If you sweep the floor, as you said you would, I will continue to trust you and will build trust with you. If you do not sweep the floor, as you said you would, I will question whether I can trust you. There may be a good reason why you didn’t sweep the floor, but if you did not communicate with me or follow through with what you said you would do at the next time you are able to do so, I will question whether I can trust you and we will struggle to build trust.
Sweeping the floor is a simple task, but it isn’t as much about the action itself but it’s connection to what you said you would do. It’s about truth.
Many organizations want their people to get along and like each other, this is a Utopian work place, but it isn’t always achievable as there are many factors that lead to those conditions – some of which leaders, organizations and employees have control over and many which they do not. Respect on the other hand is something that is achievable, is a basic expectation that an organization can train and discipline for and can be a catalyst for successful collaboration. I don’t have to like you to respect you but I do have to respect you in order to work with you in a sustainable fashion.
Odds are if you work in a manner that is respectful, there is a strong likelihood that we can grow to like each other around that foundation. Respect comes from truth fleshing out in trust, and as previously outlined, trust comes from truth in action (more) – i.e. doing what you said you would do.
If I do what I said I would do and you do what you said you would do, we have a functional operation and the foundation for respect. If everyone is invested in being people who do what they say they will do then we can build trust and be unified around those values.
Simple things like telling the truth, doing what you say you are going to do and being organization that upholds as well as disciplines around those basic values are the foundations of developing unity. Jesus said it this way, "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities (Luke 16.10 NLT)."
Seek and hire people who do what they say they are going to do, people who are trust worthy and who tell the truth. When you have a team full of individuals who are committed to doing what they say they are going to do you have the basic ingredients for an organization that respects each other, is trustworthy and can be unified in their collaborative efforts.
Conversely, if people do not do what they say they are going to do there will be no trust between team members. If there is no trust there will be no unity. If you are struggling with unity this is a symptom of a broader problem.
Long winded lecture, now back to the conversation:
Have you looked into whether your team members trust each other? No.
Do your team members have good reasons not to trust each other? No. I don’t think so.
Do your team members do what they say they are going to do? Yes.
If that is true, what could be the reason? Like you said, they need to trust each other.
Did you hear what I said in my long winded lecture on the origins of unity being rooted in trust and trust being based on truth? Yes.
Do you understand where trust comes from? Yes.
Where does trust come from? I don’t know. I just want our team to be more unified.
Ok. Good luck.
Perhaps all of this is nonsense. Maybe the concepts of being truthful and building trust by simply doing what you say you are going to do are too lofty. A few years back we coined the phrase DYOJO among some friends, which means Do Your Own Job. We added the additional O so that it sounded like dojo or a training ground for martial arts. In this way it’s the Dojo of Doing Your Own Job, we are learning and sparring and at times fighting to be the best that we can be. Our training ground is the DYOJO.
The friend, who serves as a person in a position of leadership, I was speaking with went on to share in his next meeting that everyone needed to trust each other. “We need to have better unity, be less negative and trust each other.” While all three of these statements are true in isolation, unfortunately my friend the PIAPOL did not see how they had to be true collectively in order to have any power.
Whether we don’t’ want to admit that we have issues or we don’t want to roll our sleeves up to do the dirty work of fixing the actual underlying issues rather than chasing our tails on symptoms, often times the answers to our questions are simpler than we want to admit.
Key steps to build team unity:
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Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.