I will let you in on a little Navy SEAL secret: we are all huggers. We “hug it out” all the time. That’s not to say we aren’t tough when we need to be, but that tenderness—the love we have for each other—is what propels us to the most selfless of acts. My first commanding officer used to remind me all the time: “Only ever be as tough as the situation dictates.” For many team leaders, making tough decisions and taking a hard stance is often a simpler task compared to considering all aspects of the situation. Most team building and leadership tasks involve building relationships with people, which requires more sensitivity and understanding than toughness. Having the situational awareness to understand when to be tough vs tender is vital to building strong, cohesive teams that are motivated and engaged.

When leaders show that they care about their team's growth and well-being, they create an environment that fosters trust and collaboration. The highest-performing teams are built on a foundation of care—the same bedrock emotions that keep families healthy and happy. As a caring team builder, your primary job is to learn how to connect using all three forms of human connection: physical, mental, and emotional.

The C.A.R.E Loop: A Framework for Great Leadership

The Connect component of the C.A.R.E. Loop emphasizes building relationships within the team, promoting open communication, and fostering a sense of belonging. This can be achieved through regular team-building activities, informal check-ins, or one-on-one meetings. By doing so, team members become more comfortable with one another, allowing them to work collaboratively and effectively.

Achieve refers to setting clear goals and expectations for the team and each individual member's role in achieving them. Leaders who clearly define objectives and provide the necessary resources and support help their team members stay focused and driven toward success. Celebrating milestones is also an essential part of this step, as it fosters a sense of accomplishment and motivates the team to continue working towards their goals.

Respect is about acknowledging and valuing differences among team members. Leaders who create a culture of respect and inclusivity help team members feel heard, understood, and appreciated. This leads to a more diverse and innovative group that is better equipped to tackle complex challenges.

Empowerment is the final step of the C.A.R.E. Loop, and it involves providing team members with the autonomy and decision-making power they need to succeed. When leaders trust their team members to make important decisions and take ownership of their work, it empowers individuals to think creatively, take risks, and achieve great things.

By employing the four components of the C.A.R.E. Loop, leaders can cultivate a strong and effective team that can achieve anything they set their minds to. Caring for team members is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the key to success.

Why Teamwork Soft Skills are Crucial for Building Human Relationships

Developing teamwork soft skills is essential for creating meaningful connections between people and fostering deeper levels of mental and emotional engagement. In today's workforce, it's becoming increasingly important to prioritize these skills, as research has shown that a significant portion of the US workforce remains disengaged at work and feels uncared for. This lack of engagement and support can have negative impacts on employee attitude, performance, and even physical health. However, by adopting the C.A.R.E. Loop framework and emphasizing soft skills like empathy, active listening, and effective communication, leaders can build stronger, more engaged teams. In fact, studies have found that employees who are led by engaged leaders are almost 60 percent more likely to feel motivated and invested in their work. By focusing on these often-overlooked aspects of leadership, we can create a more positive and productive workplace culture for everyone.

The Importance of Connecting with Teammates in Leadership

Building a strong connection with your teammates goes beyond just collaborating on projects. It's about creating a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and heard. By actively engaging with your team members, you can gain a deeper understanding of their unique strengths and perspectives. This allows you to leverage each other's talents and work towards a common goal. When challenges arise, it's important to approach them as a team and brainstorm solutions together. This not only strengthens your connections, but also fosters a sense of trust and accountability within the group. Remember, building strong connections takes time and effort, but the benefits are immense; a more productive team, increased job satisfaction, and a sense of belonging that extends beyond the workplace.

Designated vs. Earned Authority: How to Build Trust as a Leader

To truly be an effective leader, you must take the time to understand your team's needs and concerns. This means being approachable and creating an environment in which your team feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Listening actively, providing support, and offering constructive feedback are all essential parts of earning your team's trust and respect. As a leader, it's important to lead by example and demonstrate your commitment to the success of the team. This means not only setting clear goals and expectations but also taking ownership of your own mistakes and holding yourself accountable. A true leader understands that leadership is not about having power over others, but rather, empowering others to achieve their best. By inspiring and motivating your team with a shared vision and a sense of purpose, you can create a culture of collaboration and excellence that transcends individual titles or positions.

The Three Cs: Communication, Credibility, and Commitment in Leadership

To build trust and earn authority, you must focus on the three Cs: Communication—physical, mental, and emotional; Credibility—integrity, accountability, and humility; and Commitment—reliability, consistency, and focus. These factors come together to convey your authenticity and trustworthiness. The three Cs build upon and reinforce each other, and you can't have one without practicing all of them.


Clear and effective communication is essential in building trust and earning authority. Physical communication refers to your body language and how you present yourself in person or in videos. Mental communication focuses on your ability to express ideas and information in a way that’s easy for others to understand. Emotional communication deals with how you connect with others on an emotional level, empathizing with their feelings and showing that you care. Improving your communication skills in these three areas can help you build stronger relationships with your audience, making them more likely to trust and respect you.


Credibility is built on three key pillars: integrity, accountability, and humility. Integrity means staying true to your values and principles even when it’s difficult. Accountability means taking responsibility for your actions and being willing to admit when you’re wrong. Humility means recognizing that you don’t have all the answers and being open to other viewpoints. When you demonstrate these qualities consistently, you’ll be seen as a credible and trustworthy authority figure.


To build trust and earn authority, you need to be committed to your goals and values. Reliability means following through on your promises and delivering on your commitments. Consistency means showing up every day and putting in the work to achieve your objectives. Focus means prioritizing what’s important and avoiding distractions that might steer you off course. By embodying these traits, you show your audience that you’re serious about what you do and that they can count on you to deliver.

The three Cs of communication, credibility, and commitment are essential for building trust and earning authority with your audience. By focusing on these areas, you can develop the authenticity and trustworthiness that will set you apart as a leader in your field. Remember, each of these factors builds on and reinforces the others, so practicing all of them is necessary to become an effective communicator, a credible authority, and a committed professional.

The Benefits of Emphasizing Soft Leadership Skills in the Workplace

Leadership soft skills are crucial for building strong, cohesive teams that are motivated and engaged. The C.A.R.E. Loop framework provides a roadmap for leaders to build trust and foster collaboration among their team members. By focusing on the three Cs—Communication, Credibility, and Commitment—leaders can establish themselves as trustworthy and effective leaders who inspire their teams to achieve great things.