Great teams think highly of each other, trust each other, and are reluctant to jump on the bagging-out band-wagon when its aimed at their team mates. For example, even though I wasn’t the most liked guy on my rugby team (’cause I didn’t drink, do crack and sleep around), if I was ever threatened my team mates would come to my defence in a second (usually more overaggressive than required).
But, great teams don’t just put on a united front to the world. They also enter into real and deep conflict on the inside. Once the doors are closed and its just you and me, great teams take each other to task, they challenge, dispute, argue and fight for what they think is best.
And the key is keeping the right attitude in the right context.
If you start arguing with your rugby captain while he’s running with the ball towards the opposition, you’re an idiot. You put your issue aside and you be there for him no matter what. When you’re back in the locker room, and the other teams out of earshot, that’s when you have it out. And after you’ve had it out, you leave it there, in the locker room. You don’t bring it out again.
Then, if I know that you’re not going to attack me in public, well, then I’m all the more likely to trust you when you come to me with an issue in private.
My old IT boss use to say it like this… “X is X. If your partner tells the client X, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with X or not. X is X. You run with it, and change it later. Don’t undermine each other in front of the client. X is X.”