Thoughts And Observations

Leadership Starts With Trust

Leadership Starts With Trust

By Corporate Coach, Michael Steele


Take a deep breath, and let your mind go back to your school age years and take a walk down memory lane with me. Think back on all the teachers or coaches from your childhood that stand out in your mind. Who pops into those positive memory banks? Why does Mrs. Koepell from my 3rd grade at St. John V. come to top of mind? Mr. Quillan from Marquette High. How about any negative thoughts that might pop up about a teacher or coach? Do you have a Coach B. from grade school that makes you cringe a little when you think of your football experience? Or that Assistant Manager in the store that failed to take the time with you to show you the ropes?

Look back on those early experiences and let those memories wash over you. What can the innocence of those student-teacher, player-coach, employee-manager relationships teach us? The best experiences I remember were the teachers I could count on for help, but who held me accountable. I could trust these teachers and coaches to be fair and honest with me (and my parents). Good leaders have the best intentions of their students, players, and employees, at heart.

I often got in trouble with these teachers, but they also looked for all the good stuff I was doing. They made me pay the piper for my screw ups, for which I respected them. Then, they corrected and coached me on those mistakes and made it a lesson as much as punishment. As a leader, you correct the mistake, teach the proper way, have your people learn from their mistakes, and then move the team forward.

What about the other kind of teacher or coach? The teachers, coaches, and employers who were not in your corner. A little different deal. They cared to a point, but not where you felt they had your back. Those teachers would help, they were teachers after all, but not vested in me, not like the great ones.

What about the coach that played favorites? The one who was in it for his own glory. The Coach that believed he was doing good things for the team, but really it was for his own ego. He would not even think about trying to read the teams body language. He had no clue that team spirit and morale drained as the season went on. Nor did he really care. It was about him, his wins, and his championships. Egotistical leaders do not work well in Pop Warner football nor in business today.

So, where the heck am I going with this? If one of my principles to leading a happy life is to live with a childlike curiosity. It only makes sense the leadership skills that attracted us as children would be universal in their applicability. Let’s take a look:

  1. Leaders are, in a sense, teachers. They teach by example as well as by word.
  2. Leaders are willing to help and get in the trenches
  3. Employees can count on true leaders when things get tough.
  4. True leaders are trusted to be fair and honest
  5. Leaders manage by looking for the good things in employees
  6. Mistakes need to be corrected, treated with training, and then left behind. It is now up to me as a trusted employee to limit errors.
  7. Leaders are willing to ask for feedback, get input from more than 1 or 2 top people It feedback needs to be treated as real. A leader earns trust by sharing feedback good or bad.
  8. Share the credit where credit is due. Not only in praise or credentials, but on the monetary side for company employees. Large, small, share the wealth. Everyone creates the win.
  9. Leaders care about the line employee who make the company run as well as the top line employees. Leaders should not forget from they come from.


Look at the nine points of leadership listed above. You can see they are the attributes of my favorite grade school and high school teachers and coaches. Leadership is not rocket science. What it come down to is caring, communicating, thinking of others, as you have the courage to lead with honesty and clarity to your vision. You can create an organization that people want to work for because they trust you. Be that leader.


Michael Steele has used his basketball coaching experience to create winning teams in business and finance. He offers a unique perspective to business leaders and team members looking for the “win.” Click here for more info on Michael.