Building a Culture of Trust By Wes Simmons
Building a culture of trust is imperative if we want our teams to reach their fullest potential. Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. Any sustainable success we achieve is directly related to the processes we conceive. Good processes are what drive good results, so we need to help athletes learn to TRUST the process.
To build extraordinary teams, our team members must learn to TRUST in extraordinary ways. To establish a culture of trust, it’s helpful to think about how trust needs to work for an athlete in 3 directions: upward, inward and outward.
To establish a culture of trust, it’s helpful to think about how trust needs to work for an athlete in 3 directions: upward, inward and outward.
First, athletes must trust US as their coaches (upward). As those in authority over our teams, we should regularly look in the mirror and ask ourselves questions like, “Do MY attitudes and actions breed trust or do they undermine it?” As leaders, it’s essential that our words and actions line up. As athletes learn to trust us, they will become much more likely to trust the PROCESSES that we lay out for their development as individuals and as teams.
If our processes are right, and athletes buy into them because of their trust in us, their confidence will be on the rise. With hard work, repetition, and patience, our athletes will begin to trust in their OWN ABILITIES at a new level as well. In other words, their trust will not only be UPWARD toward you as a coach, but INWARD toward themselves. This is an essential character quality that will empower them to not only face adversity in pressurized sport situations, but in the pressurized situations of life. If we can establish this type of confidence in our athletes, we set them up for success on and off the field.
Athletes need to trust UPWARD in you as the coach. They also need to trust INWARD in their own developed skill-set. Finally, they need to trust OUTWARD toward their teammates. When you have a team full of individuals who trust that everyone else on the team will do THEIR job, great things begin to happen. And when it works in all 3 directions, UPWARD, INWARD, and OUTWARD, our culture begins to permeate with trust.
Where To Start
One of the best ways to GAIN trust is to GIVE trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated.
Remember, it starts with us. First and foremost, we need to demonstrate ourselves as being worthy to be trusted. One of the best ways to gain trust is to give trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated. Here’s a short clip from a 3D Coaching Workshop where I was sharing along these lines:
If we’re intentional about giving more trust to our athletes, it should cause us to think carefully about the role of rules on our teams. Team rules are important, but we must always be willing to (re)evaluate our team rules in the light of relationships. Besides protecting people from various forms of harm, I believe rules should mostly exist to protect relationships. If we want to build a culture of trust, we need relationships to flourish in every direction. If this is our desire, as Joe Ehrmann has convincingly demonstrated, we really only need to enact 2 primary team rules:
Coaches love your athletes
Athletes love each other
If these rules define the boundaries for our programs, relationships will thrive, trust will skyrocket, and we will be well on our way to creating great team cohesion.
*Check out Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx to read a powerful story about how lives are impacted when coaches create a culture on the foundation of these 2 rules