Whenever my colleagues and I meet someone new or hear about someone interested in joining our coalition or team, we try to get to know a little more about this person and the organization she represents. We try to determine two important characteristics that let us know if she will be a good fit in our coalition or our team.
Is she nice AND competent? I know this may seem pretty simplistic, but I’ve found through many years of working with groups of people that these two characteristics are what make the difference in someone being a good fit – or not – for our coalition and teams.
- Nice. This is really about being kind to others, showing respect, consideration, compassion, friendliness and encouragement. This includes communicating openly, honestly and proactively. This is not “pretending” to be nice just to please people or manipulate others or accomplish your own agenda, but it is genuine care and concern for others and willingness to work with others in a collegial way.
- Competent. We all have strengths and weaknesses and unique skills and abilities. Everyone in a partnership benefits when each person is contributing in her area of competence. This does not mean that you have to be an expert, but it does mean that you have to have the skills necessary to follow through on the promised deliverables you make to the group. It is frustrating for everyone in the group if you agree to do something that you either do not have the skills to do or the time to do it. On the other hand, everyone wins when you are able to do what you do well to benefit your own organization and the collective partnership.
I want to emphasize that you and anyone in your coalition or team need BOTH of these characteristics. If you are nice but not competent, you will not be able to contribute productively to the group and folks will not be able to trust you to follow through with deliverables. If you are competent but not nice, no one will want to keep working with you and you may negatively impact the energy of the group. When you are both nice and competent, you are just the kind of partner we would all like to have on our team!
How has finding nice and competent people impacted your coalition or team? Or what has happened when you have not had nice or competent people on your coalition or team?