Article published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on October 17, 2022. Updated 8 am.
The Philadelphia Eagles play an aggressive style of football, as evidenced by the frequency that head coach Nick Sirianni decides on fourth down and short yardage to go for a first down and maintain possession, rather than kick a field goal or punt. This is one of the reasons the Eagles remain undefeated after beating the Dallas Cowboys 26-17 last night.
After the Eagles won against Jacksonville on Oct. 2, Sirianni spoke about the most important factor in deciding to go for it. Sirianni said, “I trust our guys… I trust (quarterback) Jalen (Hurts) to make the right decisions with the football. I trust Jalen if it’s a pass. I trust Jalen that if it’s a run that he creates an extra gap for the defense.
“I trust the heck out of our offensive line and I trust our guys on the perimeter to make a play with the football in their hands. I trust our defense if we don’t get it that they’re going to get a stop.”
The level of trust between Sirianni and Hurts reminds me of the trust between Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles during the 2018 Super Bowl where the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots.
The most memorable play of that Super Bowl, now forever burned into the memory of every Eagles fan, was dubbed the Philly Special. The Eagles were up 15-12 and faced fourth down on the one yard line with 38 seconds left to play in the second quarter.
Conventional wisdom would be to kick a field goal for nearly an assured three additional points. That would be the conservative, safe decision. Foles, however, went to the sideline and said to Pederson, “You want Philly Philly?” Pederson knew what Foles meant. He wanted to go for a touchdown. After three seconds of thought, Pederson replied, “Yeah, let’s do it.” This was a great example of a head coach trusting the instincts of his quarterback and empowering him to make the right decision in a situation that could have had game-losing consequences.
Foles became the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to both throw and catch a touchdown pass.
What is the common theme that characterizes the 2017 and 2022 Eagles teams? Trust. Whether you are the CEO or a mid-level manager, trust needs to be earned. So, how do you earn the trust of others?
Espouse the right tone at the top. Embrace the right culture
As a leader, there should be no misunderstanding as to the tone and culture you embrace. These reflect the values to which you hold yourself and your employees accountable. Employees trust and want to be part of an organization led by a leader with strong values and high credibility.
Don’t blame other people for your mistakes
If you make a mistake, own it and share how the issue will be handled in a different manner in the future. You don’t create trust by blaming others for your mistakes. Employees that do this never last long within the kind of organization in which we all want to work.
Allow your employees to express a contrary point of view
I have worked for bosses who were not interested in contrary views. This did not engender trust. Through discussion and debate, you may accept your employee’s view or may discover an alternative path. Follow this process, and you will rarely choose the wrong way to proceed.
Help employees develop a sense of ownership in what they do
Empower employees, don’t micromanage. Show your employees that you trust them by letting them decide how to accomplish an objective. When this occurs, you can rely on them to drive results.
Practice the human side of leadership
Celebrate wins. Treat losses as learning experiences. Never shoot the messenger. It undermines trust. Shooting the messenger does not change the brutal facts of reality.
Stephen Covey, the late motivational speaker, writer and advisor, once wrote, “Without trust we don’t truly collaborate; we merely coordinate or, at best, cooperate. It is trust that transforms a group of people into a team.”
When people don’t trust each other, there is an invisible elephant in the room, which may adversely impact the effectiveness of any decision. Ensure you build trust in your organization.
Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership. He can be reached at Stan@SilvermanLeadership.com.