Trust and Alignment more

Trust is an essential foundation for effective teamwork. It is equally important, however, for the team to be in alignment on the direction in which it is going, and on the outcomes it is aiming to achieve. The two essential underlying factors determining team success are trust and alignment.

It may seem like common sense that team alignment is essential for teamwork – yet so many teams fail to achieve alignment. Why?

Three key reasons explain why teams fail to achieve alignment:

  1. Team members do not understand what alignment really means.
  2. Teams do not focus on getting into alignment on the two most important contributing factors: Purpose and Values.
  3. A lack of trust in the team prevents open, frank dialogue.

Trust is the biggest barrier to achieving alignment. Thirty years of research conducted by Intégro Leadership Institute on hundreds of teams around the world shows how teams that lack alignment also suffer from a low level of trust. For that reason, we designed the Team Alignment Survey to measure both the level of trust within the team, and the degree to which team members are in alignment.

Most people are trustworthy: honest, ethical people who come to work with the intention of making a positive contribution. So naturally they assume they will be trusted. But the reality is that trust in many teams is low, despite the fact that the team members are predominantly trustworthy.

Being trustworthy on its own does not build trust. Behavior builds trust.
Our research has identified four specific behaviors that must be present for trust to be developed and sustained:

  1. Reliability: doing what you say you will do
  2. Congruence: practicing what you preach and saying what you really mean :
  3. Openness: being willing to listen to other’s ideas and to share your ideas and opinions
  4. Acceptance: accepting people for who they are; being non-judgmental

Research also shows that most people find it difficult to do at least one of these – even though they might be naturally strong in others. As a result, trust can easily break down between trustworthy people


6 Factors for Alignment. There are six factors on which team members need to be aligned:

  1. Purpose: the reason the team exists.
  2. Values: the standards or guiding principles by which the team must operate.
  3. Vision: a clearly defined picture of what the team aspires to be at a particular point in Vision: time in the future.
  4. Goals: what the team needs to achieve in the shorter term to achieve the vision. 
  5. Procedures: Procedures: the steps the team must take to achieve the goals. 
  6. Roles: what each team member must do to achieve the vision and goals.

Clarity: it is important to understand the difference here between what we are measuring on clarity and approval. Clarity scores measure each team member’s perception of clarity in the team as a whole, not among individual team members. It is quite possible that an individual – the team leader for example – may be very clear on the vision for the team, but believes that the team is very unclear about that vision. He or she may not have discussed it with the team.

Approval: these scores are measuring the individual’s personal approval. So you can have a high personal approval score combined with a low clarity score on the graph, indicating that this person is clear about that item, and approves of it, but believes that the team is very unclear about it.


Trust is the Foundation of All Relationships

Relationships are formed as trust develops. When trust diminishes, relationships become more distant, often leading to conflict. Getting team members engaged and committed to the team’s purpose, values and vision requires a high level of trust. Team members need to know they can trust their team leader and other members of the team. 

Being Trustworthy is Not Enough

Everyone knows that trust is important, but what many people don’t understand is that being trustworthy does not necessarily build trust. People make judgments about how trustworthy their colleagues are based on their perception of what they do, not on what they say, or what they intended to do. Because it is behavior that builds trust, team members can be trustworthy, honest and ethical, and yet have other team members not trust them because of differences in behavioral style, and different strengths and weaknesses in the Elements of Trust™. To increase effectiveness in building trust, team members need to take personal responsibility for their behavior and understand how it can affect the levels of trust other team members have for them.

The Elements of Trust

There are four “elements” of trust that must be present for trust to develop and be sustained. Each “element” is supported by two values. That is, when people believe in the “values that build trust” they will behave in trust building ways.

The elements and their supporting values are:

Element of Trust





Supporting Values

Respect and Recognition

Receptivity and Disclosure

Straightforwardness and Honesty

Keeps Commitments and Seeks Excellence