I know I am far from alone in my belief that a team is not a team merely because members happen to work in the same building or wear the same uniform. Rather,  a group of people becomes a team when they have shared trust in each other. And the team will fracture as soon as that trust is violated. That is true in a marriage, friendship, workplace, or athletic field. I’ve always enjoyed being a part of a team in every application of the word, some more permanent than others. The trait I value most in the people with whom my life intersects is their commitment to team play, which is founded on both their trustworthiness and ability to trust others.

Two weeks ago, I was speaking with a publisher about my book proposal. She asked me why I write my blog and why I am so interested in writing a book. After telling her that I wasn’t writing it to make money, to reach the New York Time’s Best Seller List, or to be famous, I finally got around to answering her question. The reason is simple: Building trust and credibility as a human being.

I have advocated many times about the power of connection throughout a team. The members of the teams on which I continue to actively participate don’t necessarily share the same field, uniform, or work center. But the people with whom I serve on various teams have a shared element of trust in each other. There is a sense of familiarity in who we are as people and what we stand for as a collective. Last week, I had a few teammates reach out to me from across the globe…

  • One Sailor serving half a world away wanted to let me know that he really missed having leaders take such a personal interest in their subordinates. And because our command was his first tour of duty he took that trust, connection, and familiarity for granted as something as a common leadership philosophy across the Navy. He was disappointed to learn he was mistaken.
  • A Shipmate more local recently stopped by to see me, shut the office door, and confided some very personal information with me that he shared with very few. He chose to make me a stronger member of his team and we talked about the way ahead as his career progresses.
  • A protege from across the country enquired as to why the Alumni Mentality that many of us share as proud “graduates” of our command isn’t more commonplace. He is now working on physical symbols to share amongst fellow graduates to remind us of the bond we created while serving in the same building, and the bond we continue to maintain despite being scattered across the globe.
  • Two new proteges self-identified after reading through my blog and wanting to create a relationship.

We all measure self-worth differently. Some will use bank statements and point to material goods, while others will use a job title or personal awards. Those who I admire most and the measure I continue to use is the number and frequency by which people demonstrate trust in me. For one cannot effectively lead without having earned trust across the team. Trust earned through familiarity, demonstrated actions, and authentic interest in others. One of my favorite quotes is Zig Ziglar’s, “You can have anything you want in life if you will help enough other people get what they want!”   The truth is a truly team-oriented leader (I offer that any other type of leader is not really a leader) sees those two “wants” as one and the same. It’s a little hard to do this if we don’t take the time to learn what it is the individuals on the team and the team as a whole wants. Likewise, it is impossible if we ourselves don’t make our wants commonly understood across the team.

  • How are you building trust within your team?
  • How connected are you with the individuals who make up your work team?
  • How strong are your bonds with teammates no longer organizationally bound to you?