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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Joy, fear, vulnerability and trust in groups that lead : a storied account and call to action MacIver, Kenneth A.


This first-person, narrative and autobiographical-based study is intended to contribute to better understanding of building trust in groups that lead in service sector organizations. The groups in question include committees, teams, task forces, and executive groups. Success in building trust comes when a group cycles through six elements of a systems model. The model emerged from evidence I gathered from a population of fifty-seven research participants, most of whom dedicated at least eight hours to this work. The first three elements in the model are: planning and initiating trust, undertaking activities to earn trust, and creating a trust space. The trust space is created through the internalization of openness, deep listening, common passion and purpose, and shared responsibility. The pivotal fourth element involves an individual group member making a 'leap of faith'. The leap of faith requires exposure to vulnerability, risk-taking and uncertainty. The leap results in successful trust-building only where the group in question embraces the leap, thereby shifting vulnerability from the individual to the group. Groups that achieve group trust have 'fields' or auras radiating amongst group members: group identity, group bond and psychological safety. They also evidence the states of group success, cooperation and connection. Thus group members can go from the fear associated with vulnerability to the joy and release that come with success. With success, there is also an increased likelihood of group members participating in peak group experiences: generative dialogue, synergy, high performance, fusion of horizons, flow and common consciousness. The functions and roles taken on by trusting groups that lead include: performing leadership functions, contributing to a climate of trust in a larger organization, and providing individual leaders with support. I contemplate the model potentially applying to any type of service sector group that leads while noting that the model is not exclusive; there may well be other models and approaches to building trust in groups. The limitations in my study's research population mean that the only groups that I can directly postulate from the research as likely to build trust through the leap of faith are groups made up of knowledge workers.

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