In a video recently shared by Coaches Insider, Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching talked to athletic directors and administrators about the power of trust. Miller stated that it is not easy for an athlete to be willing to fail for a coach. The goal he says is to create coaches and athletes that are tough-minded fearless competitors. He used quotes by student-athletes to illustrate  his point. Students commented, “With trust everything is possible. You can try and fail and it’s ok, without trust there is no freedom to try.” Mr. Miller goes on to point out that student-athletes need to get outside of their comfort zone, because when they fail, they fail in public. He also shared the words of athletes who described losing trust in their coach: “It divided the team and caused in-fighting, the tension and uncertainty was hard on the team. I stopped playing for the team.”

Coach Miller’s findings are not surprising. In my dissertation research titled Meaning-Centered Leadership, I set out to find how exemplary leaders create organizational meaning for themselves and others. All of the leaders in my study mentioned the importance of developing trust as a precursor to developing relationships.  Not surprisingly, the followers polled in this research identified trust as the number one element of how leaders develop relationships. So how do you develop trust among your team so they believe, “everything is possible.” Start with the 3 elements of Engagement to harness the superpower of trust:

  1. Care and Concern: Meaning making has been described as a process wherein leaders build a culture marked by teams that authentically care for one another. Author of Make it Matter, Scott Mautz, explained that trust comes from making an investment in your employees. That investment starts by having relationships that demonstrate a caring undercurrent, and it is strengthened with a commitment to open communication.
  2. Open Communication: In his New York Times Bestseller, The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey relayed that participants in high-trust organizations described information being shared openly. Start with transparency as an organizational priority in order to build trust. Make a commitment to sharing information if you want to create an environment that leads to trusting relationships.
  3. Active Listening: In my dissertation study: Meaning-Centered Leadership,  all of the followers surveyed rated active listening above the mean when discussing the importance of their leaders behavior. Similarly, in his book, Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek explained that leaders who listen to their people can create a culture of caring that allows people and strategies to flourish.  

To create a team of tough minded and fearless competitors, start with trust. To build trust, and create an engaging environment start with caring relationships, open communication, and active listening. By engaging your followers you will not only build trust, you will be taking the first step towards becoming a Meaning-Centered Leader: A leader who understands the immense power of having followers develop a deep sense of connection and purpose in their work. Look for more in our upcoming book: Meaning-Centered Leadership: Why Meaning Matters in Your Organization.