Character and Competence

Everyone knows trust matters. We talk about it in politics. We talk about it in communities. We talk about it at work, and we talk it about at home.  

Trust is Foundational

We all want to be trusted. After all, trust sits at the heart of all relationships. Without trust, there are no meaningful personal relationships and no effective professional relationships. Trust is the glue that holds all teams together. Trust is always the first step in creating a cohesive team.

We talk about how to inspire trust in the workplace during The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, coming up on April 26 at the Innovation Connector. Below, I share some of the themes we cover during this daylong workshop: 

The Two Types of Trust

Have you ever worked with someone who you liked personally but was an ineffective professional?  You knew they cared, they were honest about their intentions, they were fair and they were authentic.  You could trust their character, but what about their competence?

Now ask yourself, have you ever worked with someone who was very good at their job but you didn’t “trust” them any farther than you can throw them?

This person was probably very capable. They had the skills, knowledge, and experience to do the job. They had a reputation for doing good work. They were credible when they spoke and they produced results.  But you avoided them, because you did not trust their intentions.

Establishing Trust

You can’t trust a person’s character if you don’t know it. One of the first steps in establishing trust is taking the time to get to know each other as people. It may sound simple but conversations or activities that help you learn more about the background and personal history of your teammates can give you great insight into how they tick. Activities like team builders and personality inventories provide opportunities for understanding, and appreciating, differences in perspectives and approaches.  Being vulnerable, by owning our mistakes and insecurities, creates space for others to be honest about their own struggles.  Saying “that’s on me” is powerful because it gives team members permission to do the same. Facades give way to acting in good faith. 

Trusting competence is about demonstrating results.  Simple actions like doing what you say you’re going to do and following through generate trust. It’s also easier to trust competence when a person’s skill set is in alignment with the task at hand. Sometimes people look lazy or ineffective when they are simply out of place. 

Trust Then Confront

Teams that don’t trust, fail at conflict. There simply isn’t the space to talk honestly about issues of feel confident that work will get done.  However, once trust is established, team members feel safe enough to tackle issues honestly and directly. They begin to trust their colleagues will share the load. This is why we start our Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program with establishing trust, before we address conflict. 

Does your team need help with trust? Do you want to work through all the steps in creating a cohesive team? At Shafer Leadership Academy we Create Great Local Leaders.

Click here to learn how you can attend The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team on April 26th at the Innovation Connector.

About the author:

Mitch Isaacs was named Shafer Leadership Academy’s Executive Director in May 2015. In this role, he works closely with the organization’s board of directors to fulfill the mission of the organization. He is responsible for creating vision, connecting with stakeholders, administering program offerings and leading the organization in meaningful ways.  Learn more about Mitch »