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My course is Leading teams.

please do great powerpoints and write notes what I will say for the introduction and closing.

the presentation will be 25 minutes.


Trust is the bridge that brings strangers together to achieve a common goal. A trust relationship is a situation where one partner believes the capabilities of the other and has faith in them to exercise their intelligence in actions benefiting the group. Communication, on the other hand, is essential if members of a team are to work together towards a common goal. This paper focuses on the effects of trust and communication in executive teams and seeks to find how they affect the success of teams. Therefore, the main research question, which the paper focuses on is as follows: Does establishing trust and effective communication lead to success among executive teams? Additionally, the researchers hypothesize that the proper functioning of executive teams requires both trust and effective communication and therefore they are key elements for the success of the teams. The effective management of executive teams calls for the cultivation of trust among members while putting in place and effective communication plan.


Trust is a significant tool that is needed in any type of relationship, professional or personal, temporary or long-term because without it the relationship cannot mature. When trust is established, team members take the initiative and do their best work. The team aligns around the common goal, support team other, think outside of the box and are willing to take risks. It is evident that trust is a vulnerable soft skill that is essential for the overall success of a team. Team members need and want to be able to trust their team members as it is a part of the relationship experience. Despite its importance and need to established trust, it is not freely given; it must be earned. To understand trust, let’s explore the impact and effects it has on effective executive teams.


Trust is defined as the willingness to making oneself vulnerable to another (Mayer et al., 1995) based on the belief that the other party is reliable, open, competent, and concerned (Mishra and Mishra, 1994). Several scholars have identified these as key dimensions of trustworthiness in both conceptual and empirical research (Mishra and Spreitzer, 1998; Spreitzer and Mishra, 2002; Brockner et al., 2004). Reliability is defined as expectations about consistent or reliable behavior (Mishra, 1996). Openness is defined in terms of perceptions of openness and honesty, where “leaders who are more trusted are more effective in acquiring skills, retaining and attracting followers, and promoting change and innovation” ( Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1991).

Competent leaders are “characterized by how much their followers trust them to make competent decisions” (Kirkpatrick and Locke, 1991). By demonstrating concern “means that self-interest is balanced by interest in the welfare of others” (Mishra, 1996). Open and honest communication, then, can be a vehicle for building those trusting relationships within the agency. Mayer and Gavin (2005) found that organizational communication is critical for building trusting relationships between employees and the organization that are open and honest.

Mayer et al. (1995) focused on three important attributes of trust that appear consistently in the literature and studies. The attributes are ability, benevolence and integrity. Together these three aspects provide a solid context for studying trust in an organizational setting. To trust in an individual’s ability would be to trust in their skills and competencies to do their job. The domain of the ability is specific because the trustee might be very capable and skilled in a certain area, affording that person trust in that area (Mayer et al., 1995). Benevolence or the expectancy that the trustee will behave in a positive way towards the trustor is cited by many theorists as central to the definition of trust. Benevolence suggests goodwill and attachment on the part of the trustee towards the trustor. The relationship between integrity and trust ‘involves the trustor’s perception that the trustee adheres to a set of principles that the trustor finds acceptable (Mayer et al., 1995: p. 719). Ring and Van de Ven (1992) refer to the importance of moral integrity, as does Butler (1991). The trustor needs to perceive the trustee as having principles (Farrell et al., 2005). Trust is established with in the team by creating goals that the team can recognize.

Trust is considered to be an important social resource that can facilitate cooperation and enable coordinated social interaction (Gibson & Gibbs, 2006). The development of trust is based on two necessary conditions: risk and interdependence. Trust gains importance when there is an uncertainty regarding the appropriateness of another’s intentions and future actions, and when the interests of one party cannot be achieved without reliance upon the other party (Rousseau, Sitkin, Burt, & Camerer, 1998). The meaning of team-level trust is based on shared perceptions (De Jong & Elfring, 2010). Team-level trust is defined as a “shared psychological state in a team that is characterized by an acceptance of vulnerability based on expectations of intentions or behaviors with others within the team” (Gibson & Manuel, 2003; Rousseau et al., 1998). Trust promotes cooperation, which in multicultural teams enables capitalization of diverse sources of knowledge contained in team members’ cultural diversity, which otherwise would not be realized (Van Knippenberg & Schippers, 2007).

Based on the definitions from several scholars listed above, it is clear that team trust has a direct effect on productivity and success of executive teams and it is also an indicator of the positivity within the team environment. Such an environment enables the development of characteristics over time by enabling communication, decreasing conflict, increasing the team’s ability to get to know each other, and increasing the sense of being part of the group. The cultural intelligence of the team members who gain experience in working teams with high levels of trust will more likely increase their success over time.

The Impact

In executive team outcomes, trust encourages people to think and feel in the same way. In ongoing teams, trust has a direct impact on effort and performance (De Jong & Elfring, 2010; Rispens, Greer, & Jehn, 2007). Barber (1983) suggests that the dynamics of trust lead to solidarity and the dynamics of distrust lead to disintegration. Team members with higher levels of trust are more likely to interpret behavior positively, and group members’ attraction to or liking of the group (Evans & Jarvis, 1980) underpins cohesion and personalized group identity (Han & Harms, 2010). In the same vein, trust can foster greater cooperation (Ferrin et al., 2008), team satisfaction, attitudinal commitment as well as perceived task performance (Costa, 2003; Rispens et al., 2007). On the other hand, without a foundation of trust, team members are more likely to avoid interaction processes to protect themselves from perceived vulnerability to the actions of other team members (Mayer & Gavin, 2005). Reduced interaction will in turn be detrimental for interdependent group work and leads to further conflict and misunderstanding, as members will not have enough knowledge of each other to achieve coordination (Wildman et al., 2012). The trustor’s anger will lead to reduced willingness to be vulnerable to the trustee ( Tomlinson & Mayer, 2009), and when one finds that the other is behaving competitively, one may fight fire with fire and compete in response, or one may even withdraw from the relationship (Ferrin et al., 2008). When this behavior occurs, the chances to be successful executive team significantly decreases.


For individuals working in organizations, perhaps the most prominent social context is their immediate work group (Hackman, 1992). Group-level analyses tend to overlook dynamics between individuals, but individual level analysis is pertinent in looking at group formation as this gives us insight into how individuals come together to work as a group. Psychological group formation is a powerful unifying force among a set of interdependent actors (Collins, 1989), and identity orientations are important in predicting employees’ willingness to interact and cooperate (Dukerich, Golden, & Shortell, 2002). Some studies indicate that individuals are more open and experience higher levels of satisfaction in groups with maximum social category diversity (Harrison & Klein, 2007). In line with this view, our framework illustrates that team membership identity based on interdependence (Homan et al., 2008) rather than on demographic categorization may help to resolve the problematic nature of diversity (Gebert, Boerner, & Kearney, 2006). Van Knippenberg, De Dreu, and Homan (2004) also suggest that identity moderates social categorization in diverse teams. In addition to team composition, it is also important to take into account the member interaction effect (Cheng, Chua, Morris, & Lee, 2012). Observing trust not just as a facilitating state but also as an input, mediator and output model, we provide an overview of the psychological aspects of team formation and development, thus providing a possible explanation as to why one team evolves into an effective unit. In determining whether team development spirals in a positive or negative direction, we highlight the role of (dis)confirmation of expectations based on initial trust and subsequent emotions since affective responses to groups are an integral part of work experiences (Williams, 2001).

In summary, this paper has explore several definitions and methods of trust and the steps needed to establish, develop and preserve trust. Establishing trust is a challenging task but once it has been established in executive teams, the success of the team effectiveness extremely advances. This is the result of the team members being accountable for their personal responsibilities, aware of what is expected of the team, vested in each order and are clear on the goals of the team. Building trust, team members need to understand how it operates and spreads compassion to multi-layers and challenges that come with the territory. The team members need to be clear where trust stands in their own team and be ready to embrace opportunities to learn, grow and develop. The team will be motivated to executing action plans that meet the ultimate goal (Karmakar, N. and Paneerselvam, S. 2014).


As described, trust is a critical factor in establishing an effective executive team. But as we have all heard at least once in our lives, trust must be earned, not given! So, how does an effective executive team earn trust? One could argue, trust can only be earned or built if the appropriate communication mechanisms or strategies are established and agreed upon by an executive team.

In order to assess how communication impacts effective executive teams, a literature review which included, articles, journal entries, abstracts, and personal experiences from observing executive teams was completed. Prior to reviewing the findings, one notation regarding the literature review, a wide range and variability exists in the insights and observations related to communication and its impact on building an effective executive team. The following insights intend to explore the impact and effect communication has on an effectiveness of an executive team.


To better understand the effects of communication on an executive team, we must define both an executive team and communication. First, an executive team is “comprised of individuals who have ascended through the ranks of their functional areas to positions of influence.” (Hall, 2006). Communication, though widely defined was best summed up “as an exchange of information occurring through both verbal and nonverbal (e.g. email) channels, between two or more team members.” (Marlow, Lacerenza, Paoletti, Buruke, Salas 2017, Adams 2007, Meser-Manus & DeChurch, 2009) Additionally, many literature forms reviewed noted communication to be a soft skill which complements an executive team’s range of hard job specific skills.

Now that we have defined what an executive team and communication is, let’s explore how a perceived soft skill can make an executive team effective. Through research, two common themes arose highlighting the impact of communication on an effective executive team.

The first theme was the importance of establishing expectations on how communication would be handle and accepted amongst the executive team. Per Hall (2006) one of the key questions to ask when assessing current state is “How do team members communicate with one another? Are there issues that are considered “taboo”? If so what are they?” In a time where technology makes communication easier and more readily available, it is critical for an effective executive team to define the manner in which expect team members to interact with one another. It also allows an opportunity to set ground rules for the types of communications that are viewed as productive versus counterproductive among the team, i.e. face to face, email, text, etc. As we know trust plays a major role in an effective team’s success, however “that trust and commitment do not just happen; they are forged and maintained through effective communication.” (Cummings 2013, Zeffane, Tipu, Ryan 2011) With this in mind it is suggested, “Especially in this age of email, voice mail, and text messaging, it is important to make time for face to face communication. While other media may be acceptable for routine, less vital communications, conversations among executives often hinge on a level of nuance which cannot be achieved through other means.” (Hall 2006) Face to face communication is vital to an executive team’s success. Face to face observations furthers a team’s ability to build trust and cohesion, while providing an opportunity to access and understand non-verbal communications such as body language and facial expression. As reviewed, a key step and most likely the first step an effective executive team must take is establishing the modes and mechanisms in which they will communicate. Ultimately establishing communication expectations will pave the way for an executive team to have a positive impact on their performance which will be discussed as the second theme identified through our research.

Performance, outcomes, and measures, are in way which individuals and/or teams are evaluated in a professional setting. In terms of Executive teams, performance outcomes and measures can be quiet challenging as they typically have high impact on an organization. While establishing communications is the first step, putting those expectations into action can determine the effectiveness of an executive team’s performance. So does communication impact an executive team’s performance as a team? Through research conducted many examples outline the impact of effective communication on performance. Starting with “the most important step for the organization is for leaders to create a clear vision and direction.” (Taneja, Sewell, Pryor 2012, Zenger, Folkman, Edenger 2009) This statement is compounded by personal observations of executive teams, whereas the lack of communication on the intended purpose or desired outcome may lead to confusion. The aforementioned confusion often leads to work which hinders or serves no purpose to the overall goal(s) of the executive team. By communicating and clearly identifying goals, it unlocks the ability to have more meaningful conversations among the executive team. As a result, appropriate tasks to support the desired outcome can be defined and distributed amongst team members. With a clearly defined vision, an executive team becomes more effective by avoiding empty or redundant work. Without appropriate communication, this foundational step towards team effectiveness cannot be achieved.

After utilizing effective communication to establish clear goals and objectives, an effective executive team must take time to define roles and responsibilities. Communication plays an integral role in establishing these norms. The lack of clearly communicating roles and expectations associated each roles increases the opportunity for the team to work in a more individualistic manner rather than a cohesive effective unit. As noted by Taneja, Sewell, and Pryor (2012) “Effective communication is essential to accomplishing team objectives. However, if there is poor unity, individuals may not share ideas and it may trigger low morale and negatively impact team member motivation.” By openly communicating roles and responsibilities, it allows each executive team member an opportunity to express which role they may want to take on and come to agreement as a group rather than being assigned a role. In creating a forum which allows communication involving role selection to be open and transparent the executive team builds a comfort and trust that enhances their chances of being effective as a team. Furthermore, it begins to deepen familiarity among team members. As familiarity and comfort grows, it empowers the team to communicate openly and freely to ensure each other’s strengths and weaknesses are addressed/considered when defining roles/tasks to meet their goals. The importance of having familiarity amongst members is critical in driving team effectiveness and increases the likihood of meeting their performance goals. The impact on performance in relationship to familiarity amongst team members is noted in the results of a meta-analysis competed by Marlow, Lacerenza, Paoletti, and Burke (2017) which states “there was a significant, positive effect of familiarity on relationship between communication and performance.” And how do we become more familiar with one another, COMMUNICATION!!

It is clear, as supported by the literature reviewed, communication plays a huge role in creating an effective executive team. Whether it is defining communication methods, building roles and responsibilities, or developing familiarity amongst team members, communication is foundational in creating an effective executive team. So how does an effective executive team create a communication norm and utilize communication to drive success? Let’s review two strategies in implementing communication to support an effective executive team.

At some point in our career we have heard the saying quality over quantity. This holds true in communication and its role in developing an effective executive team. According to Marks, et al. (2000) communication quality is more integral to team performance than communication frequency. (Marlow, Lacerenza, Paoletti, Buruke, Salas, 2017) As previous noted, this strategy would be discussed and defined when the team sets expectations for communication. One example from personal experience, is limiting thank you responses when someone completes a tasks considered to be a part of their normal day to day functions. Another, would be to package a series of questions in a single communication rather than multiple emails, or calls. A final example would be in reporting out status updates. Creating a timeline and delivery date to streamline responses will optimize communication rather than submitting at will once an individual’s portion is completed. In all of these examples the intent is not curtail gratitude, questions or updates but rather streamline the number communication among the executive team to avoid fatigue and maximize meaningful responses.

The second strategy is to define communication mechanism that will be utilize to address conflict amongst the team. This is a critical strategy in developing into an effective executive team as avoiding conflict can defeat even the most skilled teams. As noted by Cummings (2013) “When communication channels begin to deteriorate, misunderstandings and misrepresentation abound and a climate of mistrust sets in.” Furthermore as noted by Taneja, Sewell, Pryor (2012) “Resolving conflict not only eliminates the current issues and teaches members how to communicate better in the future, it also helps bring out leadership traits in team members who mediate conflict and reform team unity” By mitigating conflict by embracing the appropriate communication strategies an executive team can optimize it effectiveness and tackle any tasks.

Through the research completed, as well as personal experience, these are a few suggestions which communication will enable a group of executives to become an effective team.

In summary, it is evident that communication has a significant impact on developing and functioning as an effective executive team. As reviewed, communication allows executive teams to set clear reachable goals and work towards them as one, increases team efficiency via role clarity while respecting individual strengths and weaknesses, and implementing the appropriate strategies to identify, reduce, and resolve conflicts. When all of these elements are considered and addressed communication allows a group of individual executives to become a highly effective team.

Summary/ Closing Thoughts

Through the review of literature performed on trust and communication, several findings have been established. The determination of how to handle communication is crucial among members of an executive team. Since trust has been intricately linked to effective communication within these teams, the two aspects of teamwork are required for the success of the team. Trust aids in ensuring that there is role clarity, and everyone plays their part. Communication, on the other hand, ensures that collaborative work is achieved in the team. Overall, since executive teams are made up of people who are in places of influence within the organization, they are vital to the survival and strategic alignment of the company. Adopting efficient communication strategies and establishing trust among the members ensures that these teams are successful.


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