Leadership comes naturally to some entrepreneurs and small business owners, but for many others it's a role that requires constant learning, awareness and effort to be successful. Demonstrating strong leadership skills helps transform your teams' ideas into action and from action into success, and to do this it's important to learn from leadership experts.

After an NFL career cut short by injury, former New England Patriot Dr. Jason Carthen took on the moniker of "The Leadership Linebacker" -- establishing himself as an author, academic, speaker and consultant. According to Carthen, trust is paramount to reaching your full leadership potential. He says there are three elements to it: trusting yourself, trusting your team and earning their trust in return.

Trusting Yourself

A study from EY on trust in the workplace found that less than half of global professionals trust their employer, boss or colleagues, and while there are many factors that cause lack of trust, more than half of respondents agreed a strong level of trust provides opportunities to learn and advance career standings. Even though trust levels are low and many acknowledge the importance of it, most professionals don't know where to start the change. Carthen believes trust in the workplace must first start with yourself.

Carthen says that there is a direct link between self-trust and your ability to earn the trust of others. "Trust requires something from you personally, whether you're the leader or the follower, because you're going to have to trust yourself to lead effectively and you're going to have to engage a certain amount of trust to follow," he said.

Building trust in yourself is all about credibility and accountability. The more you deliver on your promises, the more credible you will feel when you look in the mirror. And by taking accountability for outcomes -- good and bad -- you will build confidence in knowing that you are in control.

Trusting Your Team

It's not uncommon for entrepreneurs and business owners to be cautious or reluctant when it comes to trusting others. It takes their time, money and emotion -- lots of it -- to drive a successful business. And they understand that misplaced trust can threaten their whole operation. With that said, successful leaders understand that it's impossible to grow or scale a business without learning to first trust the team around them.

"When people disappoint you, that's when you grow. That's when you decide whether to say, 'Okay, am I going to wrestle it all back from them?' or 'What went into that? Why did they mess up, and what did I do wrong to prepare them ineffectively for the position I delegated to them?' That's the maturity piece that many leaders never teach," said Carthen.

To get past trust issues that could be holding back your company, start by slowly delegating more responsibilities to your team, and be confident that they have the knowledge and tools to be successful. By demonstrating your trust in them, you can increase their productivity and potential while creating new leaders in the process.

Earning Your Team's Trust

Recalling his time playing linebacker, Carthen learned that for some plays, in order for his defense to be successful, he was going to have to sacrifice himself. He was going to have to engage blockers -- removing himself from the play -- to free up his teammates to make a tackle. As a competitor and natural playmaker, that's not an easy mentality to adopt, he recalled. But as a leader on the field, he knew that sacrifice was necessary to earn his teammates' trust and position them for success.

"I had to make the decision to follow what my coach said. Of course I wanted [the team] to do well, versus just myself. But that's a problem if you're a selfish player." Carthen recalls telling his story to audiences of alphas: high strung, focused individuals who fear releasing their control in the workplace.

He tells them "check all that at the door because our reality is this: you want the fullness of the company to do well and you want all facets of it to do well, not just your segment. Because if not, eventually, you're going to cannibalize your organization if not everyone is doing their job."

Perhaps Carthen's most important piece of advice on gaining trust is this: "It's going to take time and the development of instincts. It's not something that's just going to come overnight." Take the time to understand success isn't possible alone and realize in order to grow you may have to release some control you have on others.

Published on: Oct 31, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.