A conversation with Brad Post, Shield AI’s Vice President of Software Engineering.
What is the role of trust in teamwork?
Trust is the glue that holds together a team and makes teamwork possible.
What foundations of trust must be in place for a team to be successful?
In my opinion, teams are built on camaraderie, cooperation, putting your mates above yourself, and enjoying your work, no matter how arduous or tedious. These ideals build the foundation of trust. If everyone on the team shares these ideals, the team always succeeds.
How many of these foundations can be created by an organization versus organically cultivated?
An organization can either build up these foundations of trust, or tear them down. If an organization believes the team is more important than the individual, it will build and reinforce a culture that enables the team to succeed. Being mission-driven with a goal that is not about individuals succeeding, but about ensuring the success of something larger, helps drive some of these foundations. At Shield AI, we are focused on team success and on mission success, rather than on individual success.
We are constantly sharing ideas with each other at Shield AI. When we share things into a network, we risk judgement and consequence: How do you build a team where exchange of ideas is possible?
It’s constant work. Listening first, not judging other people’s ideas and always asking questions like, “How can I help?” Leaders should always practice those skills and be thinking about how to help the team versus how to get their own agendas accomplished. Leading by example is the best way to help build a culture of trust.
The most successful teams are teams that feel their work and contributions are valued, no matter how “mundane.” I’ve worked in companies where every job was valued, no matter how minor. One of the best memories of my first companies was the CEO folding boxes in the warehouse for the software we were shipping. I’ve also worked in companies where people were treated as commodities -- completely replaceable. I have had colleagues that have worked in both environments and the environment people are more fond of is the company where the CEO was folding boxes -- even though the company where the people were replaceable made them more money. That is because the CEO trusted everyone and the company was always working together as a team.