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Building Deep Trust as a Foundation of Team Effectiveness (feat. Christopher Michel)

Dec 14, 2021

Without mutual trust, it can be hard for your team members to be open to receiving important feedback. They take it personally or get defensive. In most cases, feedback feels like condemnation, rather than a learning opportunity.


Building a strong and collaborative team takes being a conscious leader. Instead of chastising or trying to have the last word, executives and entrepreneurs need to focus on helping individuals be successful with open communication and direct feedback.


When you encourage and challenge others with their best interest in mind, your team members will feel supported and committed to the success of your company. 


Christopher Michel is the founder of Nautilus Ventures, a seed venture fund. Previously, he founded and sold two tech companies, Military.com and Affinity Labs. He’s now the inaugural artist in residence at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine where he leverages visual storytelling to elevate the work of scientists, engineers, and medical professionals.


In this episode, Christopher shares how to build a culture of trust and promote excellence by normalizing constructive feedback.



How to build deep trust   


When your team members don’t trust you, getting direct feedback can be intimidating. If they don’t realize you want what’s best for their career development, they mistake feedback as a failure or a sign of defeat. They feel rejected rather than inspired.


When you show people that you’re in their corner, you genuinely want them to succeed, they trust you. They take ownership over their development and feel more connected to your team and company. 


This is why Christopher recommends leading selflessly. Putting ego aside, make mutual trust your number priority. Putting ego aside, make mutual trust your number priority. Focus on open ended questions and sparking two-way conversations. Motivate your team members to become better leaders, knowing full well you’ll learn something from them someday, too.


“Once you’ve built a team that trusts you, and you trust them, anything is possible,” Christopher said. 


The most effective leaders want to see their team grow and be successful on their own career journeys. Many of Christopher’s team members have gone on to become CEOs for other organizations, which he views as a success story. Focus on guiding your team to become stronger leaders, and assume they may grow beyond your company one day, Christopher suggests. This unique approach helps team members across levels feel more invested in the company.



Normalizing helpful feedback


If you’re only giving and receiving feedback a handful of times throughout the year, you’re missing out on the opportunity to grow across the company. Leaders need to make feedback a more regular habit.


Christopher recommends giving and asking for feedback weekly. Check in with your direct reports to determine how things are going. It’s as simple as asking a few questions: 


  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working?
  • What can I help you with?


Ask questions in a way that’s not threatening to your employees. Instead, let them know you’re on the same side, you want them to be happy, and you want them to feel as if this is their best job.


“When you help other people, not only do you feel great, but the organization is more successful.” – Christopher Michel 


Christopher also shares…


  • Why he’s not a fan of 360 reviews (and what he recommends instead)
  • How he was accepted into the Harvard Business School. . . twice
  • His number one interview strategy to create lasting teams


If you liked this episode, you may also benefit from hearing:


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