I’ve had the privilege to build and lead several different types of teams that I would call Unstoppable Teams. From building and leading three SEAL platoons to creating America’s fastest growing consumer products company (in 2009) to leading a 150 person charity group to chairing a $30MM bond campaign for our local school.
These teams didn’t come from luck or good fortune, they were galvanized from purpose-driven actions (learned over years of making mistakes!) that built trust, direction, contribution, and ownership. I’m not the best at memorizing things so I built a memory aid to help you (and me) always remember the actions required to build TRUST in Unstoppable Teams. The memory aid is TRUST, and the letters stand for:
Tell the Truth
Nothing kills trust faster than lying. Telling the truth involves transparency and vulnerability, which communicates that you care. A leader’s reputation or personal brand is dependent on how they handle the truth and foster candid communication. You’re the one that has to open cans of candor every day and you have to be consistent. You’re the one who has to hang up the insecurity blanket called your ego before you walk through the front door. You’re the one who has to be vulnerable first. You’re the one who has to play the authenticity card so others will breathe a sigh of relief and say to themselves, “I can relate to this person—he/she is human just like me.”
Do what you say, and say what you do. The key action to building trust is consistency. When the world is crumbling around you and you have no idea what to do, your best tactic is to stay consistent. I’ve had times when I didn’t know what to do, but I remained consistent, accepted accountability, and above all, kept communicating. Sure, there were times when I wasn’t as consistent as I should have been; it’s the commitment to keep trying that counts. The more consistent you are in your actions, the more you are trusted, because people know what to expect. When your actions are inconsistent, you leave people guessing about your intentions. Practice the 3 C’s to build connections and earn the trust of teammates.
Listen to Understand
Listening to understand is checking your ego and learning another point of view. When you do this, you develop empathy, which enables you to connect. It may seem passive, but listening with all of your attention is anything but passive. When you are fully engaged and actively listening, you are completely immersed in what the other person is saying. Ask questions, withhold judgment, seek clarification, and acknowledge what you are hearing. LISTEN is the acronym for a 6-part guide on how to listen to understand.
Asking for input/advice communicates that you are open to new ideas, you care about their opinions, and you value their contribution. The courage, ability and willingness to express ideas and emotions is a key characteristic of teammates who make an impact. Seeking input is no different from asking a teacher for help in solving a homework problem. Depending on the size and boldness of your goal, you may have to find multiple experts to help you chart a course to success. You will never know it all, and the sooner you come to grips with this concept, the faster you can get on your path to fulfilling your dreams. Seek expert advice and learn from those who have gone before you.
We are all flawed. We all make mistakes. The biggest mistake is not owning our own mistakes—it’s a trust killer. OWN IT. Be responsible for your actions by taking them head-on; steer your bow directly toward them and then deal with them. Maintain your course and speed and don’t look back. Focus on the next wave. The only real mistake in life is the one from which we learn nothing. Survey your habits—Once you’ve evaluated the action that needs to be changed in order to build a habit that helps instead of hinders you, take control of it! Know that any action you generate is your own—you OWN it, and it’s within your control. Don’t get discouraged; it can take time to change old habits, but it can be done. IT’S UP TO YOU!
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