Fundamentals of Trust

In the fifth-year of existence, the Charlotte Hornets made their NBA playoff debut. Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Mugsy Bogues, and Hersey Hawkins were household names and all started for the hometown Hornets. The supporting cast consisting of Wingate, Gattison, Williams and Scott Burrell were no slouches either. Before the team flew to face the Goliath Celtics in the Garden, before a hostile crowd for game 2, I was able to sit courtside during a training session.

After I got over the shock of being up close and personal with these super stars, I started to get  bored. I wanted to see these mega stars scrimmage or go one on one, but all they were doing was dribbling, passing, and shooting; over and over again. They spent the entire 2-hour work out on these fundamentals.

I work with a team of highly capable professionals with decades of relevant and crafted experience.  The executive team is made up of individuals from all walks of life; some are young, others young at heart; some are from the military, others from corporate or church backgrounds. In order to be a thriving team, each player must connect to the other. Together teams must practice the fundamentals. This leads to trust. Trust in your own abilities and that of your teammate.

To achieve trust there are three fundamental concepts that must become second nature. A key point to remember is that practice makes permanent.

1.) Business is conducted between people. The business card may say IBM or Microsoft but at the end of the day, we do business with people.  People only represent organizations; they are not positions. You may think you are emailing the accounting department but you are really emailing Karen in the accounting department. The people you deal with in business have families, wants, desires, regrets, wishes, and yes, they have bad days.  They also have hobbies, take vacations and sleep like the rest of us.   The people we deal with on a daily basis, internally and externally, are not just phone extensions or email addresses. They are human beings like us. Treat people as you’d want to be treated.

2.) Good communication requires life-long work. Here are a few steps that will help improve your communication skills in the short and long term. Master these and you are on your way.

  • When there are issues, deal with them in person or over the phone.  Cut down on using email to deal with problems. Problems are better solved one-on-one.
  • If you have an issue with someone go to him or her directly. Don’t talk about them behind their back – that is gossip. Slandering someone builds animosity.  Take the time to fix issues with the person one-on-one.
  • Practice listening.  Be engaged in every conversation or meeting.  Don’t let your cell phone, computer, iPad or other technology distract you from being fully present.  When you are present, your brilliance shows through. Look in the eye of those speaking; the eyes are the windows to the soul.

3.) Display and demonstrate trust. While a measure of trust is granted during an initial encounter, the majority of trust is earned over time.

  • Do what you say, when you said you are going to do it. If you said you’d have the report by 5p deliver it by 5:00pm or why not early at 4:30pm?
  • Go the extra mile for a colleague. See your colleague as your customer. Do something extra to help them be successful.  See the world from their office, desk, or cubical.
  • Share the credit – give the praise. Never accept singular credit for work done as a team, not even in private. Victory is always sweeter shared.
  • Place the needs of the team above your own. Serve your team before you demand from your team. Meet their needs and your needs will be met.

Leaders must live a life that generates trust. Then, they can build trust among the teams they manage. Every team is unique, filled with people from various walks of life. When teams run on the fuel of trust anything is possible, the engine will purr.

As the Hornets practice came to an end, I noticed that when all the other players left the court Zo (Alonzo Mourning) pulled a rack of balls out to the 3-point arc. I watched for 20 minutes as he worked relentlessly on his form, his wrist, his release, and his feet…the fundamentals. The next night against Boston, Zo clinched game 2 in the final seconds with a high arc three-pointer from way outside… from just about where I saw him practicing.

Practice the fundamentals of trust, it will pay off.

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