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On Football and Credibility

Lou Holtz, football coach, talks about how he created a team year-after-year. His college football teams changed personnel every year. But, his questions* to each person were always the same: Do you care about me? Can I trust you? Are you committed to the success of the team?

Holtz believed the answers to these questions are best given through actions. When we consistently act in an authentic and trustworthy manner, we will gain trust. But what do those words mean? And, how can we develop authenticity and trustworthiness in ourselves?

Authenticity arises from being yourself, which comes from the story you’ve lived. Being authentic means knowing and living your story. Authentic leaders are steady, confident, and consistent. They are the same person day-in and day-out.

Trustworthiness is made up of several things: sincerity, reliability, competence, and care. Sincerity is honesty: you say what you mean and mean what you say. Your opinions are backed by the facts and sound thinking. Reliability means you keep your  commitments and promises. Competence says you have the knowledge, skills, and resources to do your job. Caring is keeping other’s interests in mind as you act and make decisions. When we say someone is trustworthy, we may mean one or all of these things. Likewise, saying that someone is untrustworthy may mean they have failed at one or more of these things.

Leaders who are authentic and trustworthy have the ability to create and manage teams for each season. They mentor and teach others, developing capacity and connection, calling each person to develop their gifts and skills. They work with individuals, creating a team identity and purpose. They inquire into their team’s experience in order to know and live the team’s story along with their own.

I’ve written a longer article that includes questions for reflection as you consider Holtz’s questions for yourself.

*Holtz quote from “The Art of Innovation” by Tom Kelley, p. 85

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