Team Elements – Respect: Summary

by Ron Potter

Over the last several blog posts we’ve been working on the framework for great teams.  The four elements in the framework  include:

TREC.  The dictionary defines a TREK as “a movement, especially when involving difficulties and complex organization: an arduous journey.”  I realize that TREC and TREK are slightly different, but I always want to add an element that helps you remember a concept or framework.  Notice that building a team includes difficult and complex organization and is an arduous journey.

Teams don’t just happen.

Just because you gather together a group of people at roughly the same level in an organization, that doesn’t make them a team.  It’s simply a group of people who have some of the same goals and many different goals.  Leadership teams are charged with lining up the goals of all the participants, regardless of their personal or functional goals.  Sometimes those personal and functional goals need to be sacrificed in order to move the team goals forward.  It’s an arduous journey.

There is a fifth element that was not included in the list but needs to be checked and that’s Purpose.  The reason I tend to minimize the Purpose goal is that I assume leadership teams know what their collective goal is or should be.  However, if that’s not the case, this fifth element will jump to the top of the list to be solved first before the TREC can begin.

Truth and Respect

So far we’ve worked through the details of Truth and Respect.  We summarized Truth and I would like to summarize Respect in this post.

We need to look at the individual pieces of Respect as covered in the last three blog posts but there is also an important principle that relates to the combination of both Truth and Respect.


Individually, Respect can be made up of several elements.

Team Strengths
  •  Humility
    • When someone does not demonstrate humility, it’s hard to believe they have respect for others.
  • Development
    • When leaders believe it’s worth their time to grow and develop people, it demonstrates respect.
  • Compassion
    • People are motivated by being treated as human beings.  Not by what they do or don’t do, but who they are.
  • Patience
    • Stay calm, don’t get annoyed, turn back to Humility, Development, and Compassion
  • Kindness
    • “Giving someone what they need the most, deserve the least at great personal expense.”  Chip Ingram
Team Weaknesses
  •  Envy
    • Envy occurs when someone feels inferior to others.  It’s destructive, first the one who envies, then those around them.  When someone is dealing with envy, help them develop.
  • Anger
    • Anger eruptions are seldom positive.  Helping the team express anger and disappointment in a safe environment helps in dealing with loss and adversity.
  • Grudge
    • Grudges are usually caused by envy and anger but they just keep surfacing.  Deal with the envy and anger constructively to stop the grudges.

Truth and Respect

There is also a powerful force when a team is both very truthful and yet maintains great respect for every individual.  Amy Edmondson is may be the best-known author to identify the concept that when both Truth and Respect are present, a team experiences “psychological safety.”  Amy and others have shown through research that when psychological safety is present, teams perform the best.

Truth and Respect are necessary individually but when combined they help teams perform at a level that is much higher than expected.

Respect, Often the Missing Element

After spending nearly 30 years working with leadership teams, my experience has been that respect is often the missing element holding teams back.

Truth: Overt

“Truth” tends to be overt.  People say it.  Or more accurately, people blurt it out.  The problems happen when someone believes they have the truth and everyone else simply has a perspective.  I’ll write more about perspective in an upcoming blog about modern-day philosophers.  Billy Joel says in one of his songs “the only people I fear are those who never have doubts.”  If you have no doubts about your “truth”, you’re probably wrong.

The other thing I’ve seen happen on teams as they deteriorate, the truth turns sarcastic.  Yes, it is the truth but it certainly doesn’t get expressed with any respect.

Respect (lack of): Covert

I find a lack of respect to be covert.  Nothing is really said out loud or face-to-face but outside the room, there are comments made about a person or a position that is not very respectful.  Issues that remain covert are the most difficult to handle.  I know that people seem to think it’s kinder to remain silent and they’ll avoid the expected conflict created by being overt.  But anything that remains covert is always more difficult to work out.

Truth and Respect.  These are the first two steps in our TREC to great teams.

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