Nurturing Talent through Trust and attaining Team Nirvana

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A talented team is any day better than a group of talented people. And a trusted team is more talented than a group of individual experts

Of the myriad combination of factors that can be a formula for successful teams, Trust and Talent are the two most critical ones in my experience. With the right alignment to individuals and teams, these factors can drive the growth to achieve high-performance teams. As someone passionate about team development, I looked back at some commonalities across all the high-performance teams that I was a part of, and realized that stitching together four quadrants (namely, Team-Trust-Individual-Talent) in a circle as shown below in five-phases, leads to the ultimate nirvana of a team’s talent and performance. Balancing growth through each phase, across all four quadrants is key to forming the perfect circle of realization.

In reference to the picture below, the four quadrants can be classified as:

Team, TrustThe trust in the team is represented in upper left quadrant
Team, TalentTalent of the team is represented in the upper right quadrant
Individual, TrustAn individual’s trust in the team and work is represented in the lower left quadrant
Individual, TalentAn individual’s talent is represented in the lower right quadrant


And the five phases of growth are:

Ideation phaseThis phase is about ideas on the concept/product that the team is constituted for
Objective phaseThis phase is about building the vision for the product/work that the team ultimately would share and work towards
Alignment phaseAssignment of roles and identification of the work products constitute this phase
Coordination phaseIn this phase coordination between various work products leading to realizing the vision should be shaping up
Performing phaseThis phase is about product reviews, and the team in action

The quadrants stay in equilibrium only when each sector of the circle connects perfectly with its corresponding one in other quadrants. In essence, a phase 1 in one quadrant cannot match to phase 2 of other quadrants to form a perfect circle.

At each phase, a match of trust and talent with individuals and teams, generates an eco-system that fosters further growth into the next phase.

As an example, individuals however talented they might be, if they cannot trust the ideations, then probably they will hamper the growth to the next phase.

Teams that do not trust the objectives, however talented they might be, will lag behind for the next phase.

A combination of Highs, Lows of talent and trust indicate an interesting pattern of biases for further analysis.

A high trust-high talent scenario leads to a Bias for action: This is the most ideal bias to have. Talent manifests itself unequivocally in the context of high trust and lead to Team Nirvana.

A high trust-low talent scenario could indicate an in-group Bias: A compelling need for familiarity values the immediate group of people more than unfamiliar people. A higher trust of in-group which does not match with higher talent, can be a hindrance to building real talent into the teams. Most often complacent, less challenged, loyal & committed teams score high on trust. They need to be pushed to the edges to be able to re-discover / grow their talent.

A low trust-high talent scenario can lead to a bias against risk: Continuous challenge to prove their worth combined with risk aversion impacts talent. A routine with zero-risk and zero-innovation would become the highest preference, thus risking creativity. A small dose of risk is healthy to keep the scale of talent higher and performance excellent, and an appetite for risk depends on the amount of trust that can be put in. Higher the trust, more the appetite for risk is likely to get.

A low trust-low talent scenario could lead to a bias for Prima Donnas: With low trust and low talent of the team, the onus of bringing success is highly dependent upon Prima Donnas that can burn midnight oil. A repeat of success may not be guaranteed. However, Prima Donnas could be discovered repeatedly that can possibly manage to keep the organization afloat.

Pattern of biases summarized:

Team NirvanaIn-group biasBias against riskPrima Donnas
Team TrustHighHighLowLow
Individual TrustHighHighLowLow
Team TalentHighLowHighLow
Individual TalentHighLowHighHigh


In conclusion, Trust and Talent aligned well with Individuals and Teams can work wonders in building high-performance teams, and will lead to a true Team Nirvana.

Jyothsna Madhunapantula, SVP, Delivery & Operational Excellence
Jyothsna is an accomplished technology professional with proven expertise in design, development, and delivery of enterprise-class software products for global businesses.

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