Building Trust the Ryan Fitzpatrick Way

Building Trust the Ryan Fitzpatrick Way

The Buffalo Bills are off to a surprising 4-1 start this year, a credit to the leadership of their Harvard-educated quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Though he may not bring stellar arm strength, he possesses hard-to-measure leadership qualities—the intangibles crucial to success on the field.

A recent Sports Illustrated article noted that Fitzpatrick is “a natural community builder, a connector.” He understands that “each player is unique and as a quarterback you have to be able to manage all those personalities and relate to all of them.”


So, with some players he talks about superheroes, with others about family and with most of the team, about rap. He’s even been known to memorize a line and spit it out in front of them for some laughs.


“The off-the-field stuff totally translates to the field,” he says. “It’s cool.”


As a team building coach committed to helping teams create stronger trust, I obviously agree! Encourage your team members to follow in his footsteps and watch your team trust grow. Two steps is all it takes:


1. Learn about your teammates. The more I work with sports teams, the more I’m amazed that even athletes who spend inordinate amounts of time together know so little about one another. Yet, when I look back to my own team experiences, the same could be said of me. I can’t say I took the time to get to know my teammates very well.


Showing interest in other people—their likes, dislikes, preferences—strengthens trust. Not rocket science, I know. But life moves so fast that we don’t always take the time to get to know the people we interact with the most. We get so focused on the goal at hand that we miss out on the greatest part of being on a team—the people.


Ask a co-worker or teammate to tell you about one of their favorite life experiences or about who they most admire and why, and notice how it impacts your relationship.


2. Use what you learn to create a tighter bond. Does your co-worker love Peanut M&M’s? Or Starbucks grande, non-fat, vanilla lattes? Surprise him one day with a treat he loves and see what happens.


Knowing what’s important to the people around you will help you reach out to them in ways that mean something to THEM. Oftentimes we try to connect with others based on what is important to us, and we end up missing the mark.Check out The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman for helpful insights on how to do this well.


Building strong team trust isn’t difficult, but it’s hard! It takes intentional effort on the part of each team member, but as Ryan Fitzpatrick discovered, the rewards are so worth it!


What questions do you most like to ask others to get to know them better? Please share your comment below.