What side are you on? If there’s no trust on either, it doesn’t really matter, says Emil Everett, East Hampton resident and founder/president of the training and coaching firm, New Amsterdam.
It’s certainly a timely topic, when the currency of trust seems to be a premium. Rebuilding and finding it is the central character in his soon-to-be released book, Leading with Trust: The 12 Elements for Achieving Peak Performance (Forbes Advantage Books, Spring 2023), which he’ll be discussing at the Parrish Art Museum on March 6th.
Everett will take a deep dive into the central tenets of the book, gleaned from a career that has led him to work with political, business and sports leaders around the world. We caught up with Everett to talk about why he decided to take on the topic, and why it’s more important than ever to cultivate.
Southforker: Trust is such a powerful yet precarious notion. Why did you decide to tackle this topic?
Emil Everett: I’ve been keeping notes on the leaders I’ve worked with, coupled with my own leadership experience, for years, but it all really came from a meeting with [NFL executive] Bill Polian. Many years ago, I was a football player and went to a training camp as a place kicker with the Buffalo Bills. I was quickly cut by Polian [then-general manager of the Bills] when I injured a quad muscle. Years later, I sat next to him at a lunch and asked: How do you know who to put on the field? Who to trust? He said there are two things that must always be there: skill and character. And it was from there that I took my notes from all the leaders I’ve worked with and started categorizing them under those two major components of being a trustful leader.
SF: Let’s talk about this idea of trust, which seems a bit broken these days. How do you think we got here and how is trust rebuilt?
EE: It’s kind of funny–I ran for congress at 26 years old outside of Buffalo, my home town. In looking at the world of politics and the world in general from then to where we are today, it is like night and day. There has to be a level of trust in leaders among themselves in both parties. Some of my best friends and colleagues were across the aisle, and we had trusted relationships and communicated respectfully. Those are two important parts in the book: Communication and respect. There needs to be understanding about what is leadership and what is trust. Put the two together and the impossible becomes possible.
SF: How does trust effect the way people perform in business?
EE: It magnifies performance. When an individual knows trust is present, the stress level goes down. The motto of the London Stock Exchange is “My word is my bond.” Today, there’s such a a high level of mistrust. When there’s a basic level of trust, regardless of what happens, the individual knows there’s respect. Then you can walk away from a situation and say, hey, what was the most important thing you learned? How will you go forward?
SF: The title of your book addresses using trust to build up to a high-level of business performance. How does trust tie into this?
EE: It kind of goes to what I was saying about when you have respect. As a leader, you respect a person for who they are and you have respect for their skill set. When you do that and believe in who they are, you’ll allow them to do more. That increases performance.
SF: You talk about trust and stress—how does one inform the other?
EE: There’s a level of openness and transparency in conversation where value is brought to the table. It’s stress free when that’s present. There’s a healthy level of stress, but if trust is missing in any way, shape or form, stress will be there. When there’s trust, you can converse and be open and have a lot of creativity and fun, and engagement is high. That’s what it looks like when it’s in place.
SF: How did you come up with the 12 elements?
EE: During the pandemic when I started writing things down, I began to put the element of trust into their own categories. Under character, there’s motives, values, ethics, respect and credibility. On the skill side, there’s innovation and ingenuity. Under strategic planning, there are performance drivers, like delegation and feedback coaching that drive the chain. With that, important aspects are communication skills, emotional intelligence and accountability. It’s about having a strong vision that everyone can follow and be motivated by. It’s about having innovation and ingenuity–the ability to adapt in any situation. When trust is present, you can do that.
Tickets for Emil Everett’s discussion, Leading with Trust, on March 4th at 6 p.m. are $16 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, $5 for Parrish members and free for Parrish Business Members, students and children, and can be secured here.