The 3 Types of Trust Leaders Need in the Workplace

To get ahead, learn what drives the crucial relationships in your organization

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Most people don’t fail at work because of incompetence. Most people who struggle in the workplace do so because they don’t understand the culture of their organization. The culture is the unspoken rules of the environment. It’s how your company runs despite what it says in the employee manual or in the press releases. While there can be many components to an organization’s culture, trust seems to be a driving component of how relationships are maintained and, as a result, how business is done. If you don’t understand what is driving relationships in your organization, you risk existing outside the sphere of influence, working hard, accomplishing tasks, and wondering why your work is not being acknowledged or rewarded.

“If you understand how an organization works, there is the formal org chart—the way things are supposed to work—and then in reality, there’s how things really work—the culture,” says Christian Baldia, president and founder of Constellation SAS, a global management consulting firm. Baldia says there can be many dynamics that influence company culture. Here he outlines three types of trust that impact the function of work relationships.

COMPETENCE: It is the trust you have in the person who has the skill, the wherewithal, and the motivation to get the job done. That’s the person who can make things happen. You may not like or get along well with that person, but if you want to move the needle on a project, you trust that this is the person to do it.

BENEVOLENCE: It is trust in the person who has good intentions toward you. They will look out for you and bring you information that will protect you or advance your goals. You know that when you’re not in the room, this person will not undermine you. They are going to have your back.

INTEGRITY: This type of trust is similar to benevolence but is really driven by moral character. You know this person always operates with integrity no matter who is involved and regardless of how they feel about them. They will always operate according to their principles.

These types of trust intersect and influence how we interact with our co-workers and how relationships formulate. “If you want to get things done in an organization, you need to understand how these connections work and how trust works or you are going to find yourself left out of the loop—no matter what your qualifications are, no matter what your educational background is,” Baldia says. “If you don’t understand, you will find yourself reaching a plateau in your career.”

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