A Trust Urban Meyer Can't Earn Back

For all of us, we must understand the best time to lead, nourish and develop is when things seem the darkest.

While working as a studio analyst for Fox Sports college football last year, Urban Meyer outlined the three main issues of struggling teams: Trust, Dysfunctional Environment, Selfishness.

“The players don’t trust the coach, the coach don’t trust the players,” he said.

Well, after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night, Meyer, now the Jacksonville Jaguars coach, decided not to fly back home with his team — a major breach of trust in the NFL.

He opted to instead spend a few days in Columbus, Ohio, to break from his job.

Beyond the embarrassing video that surfaced of him dancing with a blonde woman at a bar over the weekend, Meyer’s decision to not travel with the Jaguars violated a code of conduct all leaders must abide by: He placed himself and his personal desires ahead of the team.

Whether it’s in business or sports, words and actions go hand in hand. Players and employees must believe in their organization and the people working for it. In return, leaders must model the behavior that becomes the standard of excellence.

Management of trust is crucial and can either build or destroy any relationship. Teams have to feel that a coach has their best interests at heart and will not betray them or take advantage of them. It is critical for leaders to not break promises. What is good for them must be good for those who follow.

Meyer could have easily returned to Jacksonville with his team, spent the night there and then chartered a flight back to Ohio, which would have been a cheap price to pay to maintain his players’ trust. On the team plane, he could have led, given encouragement, advice or reassurance that the Jaguars’ goals were still achievable. He could have started planning for next week and conveyed to everyone that he cared about them.

But he did none of this.

When things go wrong, great leaders stand in front of those they lead. Bad ones walk away.

So can Meyer win back the trust of his players?

In short, probably not.

For all of us, we must understand the best time to lead, nourish and develop is when there appears to be no hope at all. When things seem the darkest, we must find ways to shine our light and re-engage our teams. Through these actions, we build trust and our teams get to see that despite immense challenges, we care more about them than anyone.

Trust is something that must be earned every single day.

But once it takes flight, that plane is gone forever.

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