It doesn’t matter whether you’re coaching basketball teams, leading SEAL Teams, or building corporate teams; all teams are built on relationships. A team builder’s role is to be a relationship builder, which requires learning how to connect with people mentally and emotionally.

In a previous post, I wrote that the way you build connections and earn the trust of teammates is through what I call the three Cs:

  1. COMMUNICATION—physical, mental, emotional
  2. CREDIBILITY—integrity, accountability, humility
  3. COMMITMENT—reliability, consistency, focus

The three Cs are a package deal; they build upon and reinforce each other, and you can’t have one without practicing all of them. Let’s dive a little deeper into the three Cs that I discuss in my latest book, Unstoppable Teams. This is the handbook for how to build care-based teams that will push people to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership Hardcover

1. Communication

Physical Communication

Your future teammates, whether they are called employees, customers, volunteers, sailors, or soldiers, need to feel a connection before they will commit their time, money, and energy. The first way you connect with others is through communication.

Body Language

Studies have shown that most of our communication comes through body language. The other 6 percent is not only what you say, but how you say it—your tone. People may be saying the opposite, but their body language doesn’t lie; indeed, it communicates a message more powerful than words.

Facial Expression

We have forty-three muscles in our face that can create twenty-one expressions, representing everything from sadness to glee. Knowing what your facial expressions can communicate is one thing, but learning to use them to your advantage is another.

Eye Contact

Looking people in the eyes—as opposed to looking at their feet, above their heads, or at your hands—communicates volumes before you even open your mouth.

Learn to use all these elements of body posture, facial expression, and eye contact in synergy and with intent, and you’ll find that your ability to connect and to build trust increases.

Mental Communication

When you open your mouth, choose your words wisely and give people some context for understanding why they should align themselves with you. As the team leader, you are the first and best person to give them a reason to believe that what they’re doing matters.

Emotional Communication

Starting from a point of curiosity (and thus vulnerability), rather than certainty, sets the tone for how you collaborate with others. The three core actions at the heart of every successful collaboration—asking, listening, and understanding—will enable you draw strength and resources from everyone.

2. Credibility

A leader’s reputation or personal brand is dependent not only on how they communicate but, equally important, on whether they are reliable, act with integrity, and hold themselves accountable for their actions.

How you handle the truth or difficult situations, how you take ownership for your team’s actions, and whether you follow through on your commitments determine your credibility.

Whether you’re a seasoned leader or an inexperienced one, you must earn your credibility every day by consistent and committed action.

3. Commitment

When the world is crumbling around you and you have no idea what to do, your best tactic is to stay consistent. I’ve had times when I didn’t know what to do, but I remained consistent, accepted accountability, and above all, kept communicating. Sure, there were times when I wasn’t as consistent as I should have been; it’s the commitment to keep trying that counts.

The more consistent you are in your actions, the more you are trusted, because people know what to expect. When your actions are inconsistent, you leave people guessing about your intentions.

Connecting with all kinds of people is a process of trial and error. Don’t despair if you don’t get everything right at first; your commitment to keep trying will also earn you trust. As you prepare to tackle goals in your own life and work, incorporate the three Cs into your daily life to build trust and create the caring conditions you want your teammates to emulate.