Sharing a Vision about Teamwork


In high-reliability sectors, teams are needed to perform on a very high level and much more important, mutual trust is paramount.

In my opinion, trust is the foundation of a functioning team. I would like to share some thoughts on this and I am convinced the following is transferable on a fundamental level to any team of healthcare workers.

Simon Sinek, a famous author and speaker, explains the correlation of Performance and Trust in the context of his work with the Navy Seals. The Navy Seals is one of the presumed highest performing teams in the world. During a conversation he asked them, how they choose the very best guys that make it into the team. The Navy Seals answered by giving the following graph:

The Navy Seals equate Performance with skills and knowledge on the battlefield. Trust comprises more non-technical skills like respect, integrity and teamwork. Transferring this concept to the medical field, Performance may represent a usual day of healthcare workers in the ER, OR or even in the rescue services.

Looking at this graph it becomes logical. Everybody wants the person of “High Trust/High Performance” and nobody wants the person of “Low Trust/Low Performance, right? However, it isn´t always that easy – it´s not always black or white.

The Navy Seals prioritize the “High Trust/Moderate Performance” and equally consider the “High Trust/Low Performance” because they know that Performance (Skills) can be learned and improved -while Trust cannot. They define Trust as being much more valuable for decision-making.

It is very interesting that the Navy Seals put Trust over Performance when it´s about a leader or a teammate.

Looking at this, it is time to learn more about how to deal with these findings in the medical field. We have to judge what kind of leader WE want to be. Leadership is not about authority, hierarchy or power, indeed, it is more human. It is about vision, trust, teamwork, communication. As we know, “Psychological Safety” is the key to act authentically, no matter in which field.

To be a strong team in routine and in crises with the ability of acting on a high performance level while trust is the basic block, we need to learn how to lead as well as to follow. In aviation and other high-reliability industries, nowadays it is clearly understood that the whole team is much more effective than the sum of individuals.

Therefore, it is more important than ever to give space for teamwork trainings and team building in the medical field. Keep in mind, that these are the basic building blocks of effective Crew Resource Management.

Team building starts with leadership. Within the SAFETY Project our international crew is putting efforts on developing trainings and courses that take both into account – Performance and Leadership.

Dr. Katarina Grujic, MD, from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich




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