How committed are you to the team you are a part of at work? Take enough time to re-read that question and really think it through. The question didn’t ask how committed you were to being successful at your job, how committed you were to your career, or even how committed you were to your employer. How committed are you to your team? Commitment within a team is a foundational block upon which teams become highly functional; organizations cannot be functional without highly functional teams.
To assess your commitment, look at two areas. First, commitment requires trust. No one truly commits to things they do not trust. If you do not trust your teammates – their motives, their intentions, their integrity – you won’t have the level of openness and vulnerability needed to build healthy relationships. Team members who do not trust each other do not look out for each other’s success, they do not go above and beyond to help each other out, and they certainly don’t give without the expectation of getting something back. If you don’t trust your teammates, there is no way for you to be completely committed to your team with your actions.
Second, commitment requires conflict. The perfectly harmonious team simply does not exist. There is always going to be some level of conflict among team members. Teams that have strong trust can have healthy conflicts – disagreements can be handled directly, intentions are not called into question, perspectives can be debated, and there is a separation between the conflict and the person. Teams without trust have unhealthy conflict – gossip, passive-aggressive attacks, dubious intentions, and the inability to separate the conflict from the person. If a team member disagrees, they are “bad,” “not on our side,” or “against me.”
Only when you establish trust and healthy conflict can you have commitment. Commitment means that even in times when you didn’t agree with the outcome of the conflict, you’re committed to making it successful because you felt heard, and you trust your teammates enough to commit to something to support them even if it was not your idea. If you trust the team but you had a conflicting perspective, and because you did not get your way you decide you’ll passively let the decision go but not actively support the team because you think your idea was better, you are not committed, and your team will be impaired by that dysfunction.
Healthy, highly-functioning teams are the building blocks for healthy organizations. Building and maintaining those types of teams takes a lot of work from everyone in the organization, not just team leaders. The effort required is perpetual. It’s not a destination where you can declare your team healthy and move on to the next goal; it’s a never-ending journey. The benefit of healthy teams makes some self-reflection a worthy effort. Do you trust your teammates? Do you actively engage only in healthy conflict? How committed are you to the team, even when things do not go your way?