Culture Factor 2.0

How to Build a Culture of Trust, Frontline Lessons from Special Forces, Business and the NY Jets

Episode Summary

Jason Van Camp is the Chairman at Mission 6 Zero & the Executive Director at Warrior Rising. He is adept at helping teams win by providing new ways of solving organizational problems. It was in his training as a Green Beret and Commander that he was schooled in the art of trust as a method of building a strong culture. He continues to share these lessons and stories in his book Deliberate Discomfort. And today, he will help leaders understand how trust is the key and how to leverage it.

Episode Notes

http://www.companytribes.com

https://www.warriorrising.org

https://missionsixzero.com/our-team/jason-van-camp/

Deliberate Discomfort

Episode Transcription

Speaker 1:
Welcome to The Culture Factor, where we talk to founders and influential leaders about company culture. We share stories from the C-suite that help executives engage their business from the inside and create a map to transform their culture. Because the truth is culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Holly Shannon:
This is The Culture Factor and I'm your host and co-producer, Holly Shannon. Please subscribe, rate and review our podcast. Our journey into company culture has just begun and we'd like you along for the ride.

Holly Shannon:
Jason Van Camp is the chairman at Mission Six Zero and the executive director at Warrior Rising. He's adept at helping teams win by providing new ways of solving organizational problems. It was in his training as a Green Beret and commander that he was schooled in the art of trust as a method of building a strong culture. He continues to share these lessons and stories in his book, Deliberate Discomfort. And today on The Culture Factor, he will help leaders understand how trust is the key and how to leverage it. And today we not only have Jason Van Camp on with us, we also have Paul Jones, who's the president of Company Tribes and also our sponsor. So it should be a great conversation between the three of us. We hope you enjoy. And let me start by welcoming Jason Van Camp to The Culture Factor. Welcome aboard.

Jason Van Camp:
Well, thank you for having me on. This is awesome. Great introduction. This is going to be a lot of fun.

Holly Shannon:
Excellent. And welcome Paul Jones also to The Culture Factor. You get to be a co-host today. It's exciting.

Paul Jones:
Yes. I'm so excited to co-host with you, Holly, and have an amazing guest with us. Jason's a very authentic person. I've been able to spend some time with him and just really excited to have you on our podcast, Jason.

Jason Van Camp:
Yes, I'm excited too, brother. Thanks for having me on.

Holly Shannon:
Let's dive right in. So Jason, why is trust important in high performing teams?

Jason Van Camp:
Well, I'll tell you this. I'm a Green Beret, so I'm a US Army Special Forces soldier and officer. I retired in 2015. And what I've learned is that the special forces community, it's a climate where adapting to unconventional circumstances is absolutely mandatory. Asking questions, seeking truth and being creative it's all encouraged, but the leaders in this climate, they have to, they must have the highest level of trust in their people. And in turn those people must have the highest level of trust in their leaders. We're going to combat it together. We're fighting an enemy that's trying to kill us. You have to trust a man to your left and to your right to get the job done and they have to trust you as well. And I think the biggest difference between elite military units like the Green Berets, the Navy Seals, Delta Force and businesses, is a shared culture.

Jason Van Camp:
And that culture is absolutely built on trust. That's the foundation. And I don't think enough corporations are talking about trust. And I'll tell that trust begins on day one by effectively welcoming a valuable new employee to your team, clearly setting expectations, establishing effective, open communication. And I think most importantly it's letting this new employee know that they are valued and believed in. And this is the foundation of trust. It's belief. Trust is a process. It's cultivated through patience. It's strengthened by leveraging six pillars that we talk about at Mission Six Zero, my company. Communication. So a leader's ability to listen and communicate effectively is arguably the strongest effect on an employee's commitment and loyalty. So when people come to me and they say, "Jason, how do I get people to buy into my company?" I say, "You have to buy into them first."

Jason Van Camp:
You have to take time to understand your employees different communication styles, their values, their vision for what they want in their life. And then and only then can you really have that pulse of your team, that culture. Relationship, I think is the next thing I'd say is, you need to really look at creating the right culture, the right tribe. We use the word tribe a lot in the military. You really strive to get your employees to connect with you and then your employees connect with each other. I've found that people who have close friends at work rarely voluntarily leave the organization, so you don't have as high turnover rate.

Jason Van Camp:
Integrity, I would say next. People will notice your actions. They pay attention to your stories and conversations. So if you're talking to friends or whatever and your stories are a little off key perhaps, or a little too inappropriate maybe, not suitable for work sort of thing, people are going to pay attention to that. And people trust leaders with integrity and character and I think that's critically important. I would say the next is persistence. Trust is achieved over time. It's a process and you achieve it through determination and persistence. So leaders are going to go through trials and errors. They're going to fail, they're going to make mistakes as they attempt to develop this trust. And I feel like you have to keep pressing forward and overcome this adversity, and accept and embrace this discomfort.

Paul Jones:
Jason, I was going to ask you as it relates to developing that, going back to that communication aspect, when you're setting expectations, when you're bringing on a new member, a new employee onto the team, and you sit down to kind of set these communication expectations and different things like that, what does that look like?

Jason Van Camp:
So my boss, when I first walked into the Green Berets right after I earned my Special Forces Tab. He sat me down and he talked with me about his leadership philosophy and how he wanted me to adopt that similar mentality in order to succeed in his company. And the foundation that he established was one of trust. And what he asked me was, what are ... he's like, "Jason, what are some leadership lessons that you've learned that are important to you?" And I gave him three lessons. And one of the lessons that I mentioned was trust your NCOs. And your NCOs are non-commissioned officers, essentially your blue collar workers, your right hand men, the guys that you work alongside that will execute on your vision and what you want to accomplish. When I graduated from West Point, I asked every officer I could find the same question.

Jason Van Camp:
"What advice do you have for this brand new second Lieutenant going out to lead troops for the first time?" And [inaudible 00:06:43] like a knee-jerk reaction without hesitation, they all responded, "Trust your NCOs." And my boss asked me, he was like, "Jason, how has that worked out for you?" And I thought for a moment and I answered authentically, I said, "Not as well as I'd hoped." And my boss said, "There's good NCOs and bad NCOs in the army just like there are good officers and bad officers. Unfortunately, you're going to find the same is true in the special forces. There's good NCOs and and bad NCOs. And my advice to you is this, don't trust your NCOs." And I was shocked. And I thought, "I'm going to need some clarification on that. Everybody I've ever talked to in my military career has always said, trust my NCOs. You are saying do not trust them?"

Jason Van Camp:
And he said, "That's correct." He said, "Trust is a process. [inaudible 00:07:27] to verify that process. You need to believe that your NCOs are going into the right thing, but you need to verify that they are. Trust is earned and given with belief. Belief was the first step. It's an uncomfortable leap of faith and you need to take that. But trust is a tangible thing." He said, "Why would you blindly follow someone just because they have a couple of chevrons and rockers on their rank insignia." He said, "Don't, that's ludicrous. You don't trust someone just because they have a Sergeant in front of their name. You need to have them earn your trust just as you need to earn theirs. At some point, you're going to trust ... [inaudible 00:08:03] say, John Smith because you know him as a person, and he's proven himself to you and he has earned that trust. And only then can you begin to trust him as Sergeant Smith."

Jason Van Camp:
And he told me that in order to start that process of trust, I need to take a risk and I need to believe in that person. And he asked me if that makes sense. And I said, "Yeah," I said, "It makes a lot of sense to me right now." And I took that mindset with me as I moved forward in my career.

Holly Shannon:
So Jason, let me just tap in for a second. So essentially the leap of faith or the risk is a certain measure of trust to start. And if they follow through, then you're all in.

Jason Van Camp:
Sort of. Yeah. So it's a living, breathing thing. You could look at it as though it's on a linear fashion. The whole process of trust starts with belief. So that's just the first step in the process. And then the remaining is I'm going to give you actionable trust building activities to see if you follow through with what I'm asking you to do. And not only that, but I expect you to do that to me that I'm the commander. So I need you to tell me, "Hey sir, I need you to do this for me and I need to prove myself to you." And over time you build trust together. And at some point it's going to be a realization. You're going to recognize that, "Wow, I really do trust this person." And how that works is sort of ... trust is, we call it the essential currency for all high performing individuals and team. And it's difficult getting comfortable with the process of earning and giving trust. It's a skill and it's developed through intentional practice over time.

Paul Jones:
So it's almost like you have a conversation in the beginning and you say, "Hey, we're going to develop trust together over time and I want you to know that that's our focus, that's our intention. And I want you to know that you're starting off with this clean slate. Here's the expectations and as we go along we're going to build trust together." So it's really just kind of putting it out there, making it real. And I think that gives you an opportunity to check in regularly to see how both of you are doing as you're going along.

Jason Van Camp:
Exactly. I couldn't agree more. It's a process as we discussed. And I'm giving you actual trust building activities. I'm verifying that you're doing what I asked you to do and through experience, we're developing this bond of trust. It gets stronger and stronger and stronger.

Holly Shannon:
A lot of this comes out of Jason's book, Deliberate Discomfort, which there'll be a link at the end ... I'm sorry, there'll be a link in the show notes. So Jason, this brings me to my question. Could you share a story with us that would demonstrate this level of trust and how it trickles down within a company?

Jason Van Camp:
Yes. I've got a great story that ... it's actually in chapter one of my book, Deliberate Discomfort. And chapter one is all about trust, and that's the foundation and there's a reason why chapter one is about trust. Our first client was in New York Jets and the head coach of the Jets was Rex Ryan. And for those listening that don't know, Rex is kind of known, the bold, brash, and fearless guy. What I saw at the New York Jets was how much his coaches, and especially his players just loved him. And I saw that he was able to inspire such love and devotion because he believed in his players and his coaches. But the problem that I saw was he needed to turn that belief into trust. And he really didn't do that through the needed proper attention and cultivation.

Jason Van Camp:
And so when we first sat down and he hired my company, he said, "Jason, I thought I had my finger on the pulse of the team or the locker room and after last year's final game, I'm not sure I do anymore. Who are the real leaders on my team? Who are the guys that I can count on that I can trust? Who are the guys that are going to be there for me in the fourth quarter?" And as a leader of the organization, Rex had to question the pulse of the team, the commitment from his players and the trust he placed in them. And the issue that we discussed with Rex was that he didn't know how to make the proper evolution from belief to trust. He trusted individuals when they did not merit his trust. He assumed that belief would translate into trust over time without further investment. He trusted without verifying.

Jason Van Camp:
He trusted all of his coaches and players to enforce and articulate his message and his standards. Problem was, his coaches and players weren't trained properly on how to effectively do that. So he mistakenly trusted some of his people who hadn't done anything to actually earn his trust. And the solution we talked about was accountability and follow through. So after you've established belief with an individual, which Rex did a phenomenal job of, you need to take the time to develop that belief through actionable trust, building opportunities. [inaudible 00:13:27] that belief into trust through quantifiable and measurable tasks. And chapter one of my book I talk about my company commander Major Brian Pettit said, "Jason, I believe in you right off the bat in order for me to trust you, I need you to do these things."

Jason Van Camp:
And one of the things he asked me to do was speak to a number of different individuals in the special forces community and to get to understand them, find out how they think, what motivates them. Because he wanted me to adopt a similar mindset. And after I spoke with these individuals, he wanted me to come back to his office and report about what I learned. That's building trust. "Jason, go do this. When you've done it, come back and tell me, okay?" "Now, Jason, you've slightly earned my trust and we can continue to move forward and I can give you a bigger trust building opportunity."

Jason Van Camp:
Rex didn't do that. He believed these guys, "I believe in you. You're going to be awesome. You're going to do this, you're going to do that. But then he didn't cultivate that belief into trust." And I don't want to rag on Rex because he's a phenomenal guy. I admired his willingness to be vulnerable. I admired his willingness to take that uncomfortable leap of faith by believing in these guys. And by telling the truth, and he established his trust through truth, and no matter how uncomfortable or harsh the truth was, his coaches and players respected and even loved him for it. He was unapologetically himself and that's the foundation of a great leader. But he didn't understand how to follow through with that belief and turn it into trust.

Paul Jones:
I think a lot of leaders struggle with that. Especially in today's world where even now we're managing remote teams more than we've ever managed them and it's really easy. A lot of employees want that freedom and flexibility as it relates to their job. And so you as a leader can tell them, "Hey, I trust you, I believe in you." But I think that story is so relevant today because you do need to put a process into verify. If you just say, "Hey, go do your job." And you, you have that trust automatically, I think the people, especially employees, can start feeling like you actually don't trust them or that they are on an island by themselves and you're not right there with them. And so things can kind of fall apart.

Jason Van Camp:
Well said.

Holly Shannon:
Yes. I would say then trust is the foundation of company culture, so long as it's followed up with accountability and quantifiable tasks that allow the employee to earn trust in the company and for the CEO to trust the people that work for him.

Jason Van Camp:
Yeah, that's correct. That's correct. And there's some things that you can remember like I talked about earlier in the show, relationship integrity, persistence, accountability, and then consistency. As you build your momentum, you need to be predictable. And so I feel like predictability leads to trust. And if you're consistent with this predictability, you'll keep the trust that you've earned.

Paul Jones:
You're talking about being consistent increases trust. What is it that you're being consistent with? What does it look like on a day to day basis?

Speaker 4:
Okay. Yeah, that's a great question. So what is consistency? Consistency looks like this. In my experience with the culture, I try to simplify and distress as much as possible. And so if I can consistently accomplish that with my employees, that's a good day. Making sure that they're getting the information that they need, on time, in a manner that they understand. Making sure that they understand the task, what I want them to do, the conditions, what I'm giving them to accomplish the mission and the standard, which is what I expect. "This is what right looks like. This is what I expect from you." And then the time, "This is when I needed to be done, to be completed by."

Speaker 4:
In the military we have something called a no shit date and it's sort of like, "I need this, my no shit date is May 18th [inaudible 00:17:59] business." And the civilian world, they don't use that term for a number of reasons. But what you hear a lot of is, "I need you ... when do you think you can accomplish this?" And they say, "It should be done by May 18th." And the military is like, "No, there's no, it should be, it will be done no matter what. Even if you have to stay late, you're going to get it done by this date." And we'll agree on the date that you're going to get it completed by. And we train to standard, not to time in that way. And that's as common phrase in the military.

Speaker 4:
So being consistent also means being predictable like I said. So not coming out of the blue with, "Hey, I need this tomorrow." It destroys culture, it destroys an employee's morale. And yes, there are times when things pop up like that and there's nothing you can do about it. But if at all possible, make sure that they all have a heads up on what's going on. When they show up to work, they have a task, condition, standard, time for every thing that they have due. And then just not being the guy that's going to surprise them. And I think that earns trust.

Holly Shannon:
I love that and I'm going to end on that note. So well said, Jason, thank you so much and thank you for coming on The Culture Factor today. I enjoyed having a whole team of people on this with me.

Jason Van Camp:
It was great. Thanks for having me. Time flies by, so thank you.

Holly Shannon:
Thank you, Paul. Thanks for coming on.

Paul Jones:
Thank you.

Holly Shannon:
I want to thank our listeners for joining The Culture Factor and ask that you subscribe, rate and consider leaving a review. We'd love to hear who you'd like to listen to next. And thank you to our sponsor, Company Tribes. They have an app and a virtual experience to help keep your tribe together during difficult times like now and business as usual. How strong is your company culture? Reach out to Paul at companytribes.com.