Magazine Article | December 9, 2013

Yes, But Do They Trust You?

Source: Life Science Leader

By Chris Hitch, Ph.D.

As a leader in today’s global, around-the-clock business world, you must align people, processes, and projects to help achieve your organization’s goals and objectives. Yet, simply announcing the financial and operational targets is insufficient. Do you find yourself asking one or more of these questions?

  • How can I gain greater commitment from my team members?
  • How can I create a culture of innovation and trust?
  • How can I align my teams to increase bottom-line results?

Earning your team’s trust is one critical factor to aligning your team and driving for results. One of my colleagues, Dr. Roger Mayer, at North Carolina State University has focused his research on growing trust within organizations. He’s found the following three key trust factors that can increase your organizational velocity and improve bottom-line results.

Ability: Ability focuses on one’s critical job-related skills. As you start your career, these are your technical skills (degrees, patents, articles, or industry certifications). The higher you go in the organization, however, you must develop other skills as well. If you focus solely upon growing and maintaining your technical skills as you lead others, you will derail. You must shift from purely technical to a blend of technical and interpersonal abilities.

Benevolence: Benevolence relies upon empathy and selflessness. Empathy is intensely personal. Empathy focuses upon the relationship between you and the other person. If your interaction with another person is short-term and fragmented, you don’t get the chance to know and learn about the other person, as well as their interests, needs, and desires. This focus upon empathy illustrates one of the challenges of virtual and far-flung teams. It is difficult to begin to grow a relationship through email. In many cases, phone calls, video chats, and face-to-face meetings provide a richer environment to grow the relationships.
Selflessness focuses upon one’s intentions and motives. We all have a mental checklist running in the background when we work with other people. For instance, we ask ourselves, “What are this person’s motives? Are they in it for their personal glory and advancement, or are they focused upon me and my needs and desires?” When you have worked with your team over time, they have evidence upon which to determine whether you are selfless or selfish.

Integrity: Integrity focuses upon dependability and consistency with values and principles that others find important. Dependability is neither exciting nor glamorous. It’s easy to shuffle off something you said you were going to do to a later time. Yet, others are expecting you to deliver what you have committed to deliver. You grow your “dependability index” by repeatedly and successfully completing these three-point landings.

By recognizing these factors before you start with a new team, you can focus upon these areas to help grow trust, increase the velocity of decision making, execute your plan, and increase bottom-line results.

Chris Hitch, Ph.D., is the director of the GEN Hugh Shelton Leadership Center and Program Director of the Poole College of Management’s Executive Education Group at North Carolina State University, focusing on values-based leadership development.  Contact him at