Baseball and Organizational Health: Establishing Trust on a Team


No leader or team will be perfect, but they can be healthy. In the last blog we said a winning team enjoys results because they take time for candid discussion and healthy debate, commit to a particular decision or course of action, and then hold one another accountable. But without trust at the foundation of a team, it’s highly unlikely they will be able to effectively navigate through this process and reach the very best results.


Patrick Lencioni says that “in the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.


Dayton Moore and the KC Royals understand vulnerability-based trust: “As part of changing the culture, I have stressed transparency in myself and our organization in order to achieve long-term success. Transparency, I believe, is very important in all areas of life because it’s a great way to build trust. You’re going to get exposed in life anyway, so you might as well be open about your flaws and mistakes. You have to know what you don’t know…you can’t build trust with another person unless you’re willing to be vulnerable.


There are 3 keys to building trust on a team:

  1. The leader has to set the example: If the leader is not vulnerable, no one will be. Vulnerability looks like this: “This isn’t an area of strength for me, I need your help…I can’t see every perspective, I need your input…I may have a blind spot here, what do you guys see…I realize now I made a mistake, let’s see how we can best recover…This is a personal shortcoming I’m working on, hold me accountable and thank you for your patience…”

  2. The leader has to create a healthy atmosphere: Building trust takes time as team members share experiences together and get to know the unique histories, strengths, gifts and contributions of each person. A good leader invests time and resources in facilitating the development of the team. In addition, the leader must cultivate a safe environment – ensuring that vulnerability is not punished, nor unhealthy behavior rewarded.

  3. The team members have to engage and guard the culture: When team members see the leader is willing to be vulnerable, they have to dive in as well. And they hold each other accountable on unproductive behaviors such as taking advantage of someone else’s vulnerability or the gossip generated in the informal ‘meeting after the meeting’…


Without trust, precious mental and emotional energy that should go into finding solutions, instead goes into presuming others' intentions and motives, carefully weighing words, dancing around critical topics, posturing to be heard or protecting self and turf. With trust, your team enjoys high morale and uncommon results!

Contact me about getting your team on the Roadmap to Organizational Health.

“Let’s create cultures of ‘pro-noia’ - where people are plotting one another’s well-being.”

- Adam Grant