Fine-Tune Operations And Accelerate Your Results- Lessons On Trust From Blockbuster Movie Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun continues to capture the hearts of people all over the world. But it’s not just a great movie, it’s an incredible learning resource too, packed full of leadership principles.
You see, many of the skills, beliefs, and mindsets that the pilots in Top Gun: Maverick needed to complete their mission apply to achieving success in all areas of life too.
To complete their mission – and save the world – the Top Gun pilots needed to demonstrate commitment, courage, self-belief – and trust in themselves and their team.
Whether you want to thrive as an entrepreneur in business, achieve greater success in your career or just live an extraordinary life that makes you truly feel Glad To Be Here, these key things will help you to succeed.
In this blog, we want to dig a little deeper into the importance of trust…
How Does Trust Affect Your Team?
You can’t run a company – or a team – if you don’t have trust. But trust isn’t something that just happens. It’s something that has to be earned, nurtured, and cherished to grow and take root in your business.
If you can create a culture of trust within your team, with your clients, and with your shareholders, you’ll see a direct impact on your results, your productivity, and the effectiveness of your execution.
This is because trust strengthens relationships and fosters empathy and understanding. This enables better alignment. And alignment will get your team working together at their best towards the same values and a shared goal.
And it’s not just about your customers and clients trusting you, or about your team trusting you as a leader. It’s about mutual trust and understanding. As much as your people need to trust you, you have to trust every one of your team and truly believe in them.
Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
Being a pilot with the Blue Angels teaches you the mastery of teamwork. And John’s account of what it was like working together can help you to really understand the importance of trust in any team…
Here’s what he has to say…
The Blues were the most tight-knit team that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. And it was all about trust.
When you become a Blue Angel pilot, you begin with a certain amount of trust but every day you earned more, you built more, and the small things matter.
Here’s an example: my solo opposing pilot was nicknamed ‘Thumper’. He and I would come at each other at 1,000 miles per hour closure. We had to cross each other within a wingspan.
If one of us is off by just one second, we’re going to miss by two football fields. The timing has to be exact. How do you do that?
Well, you do it with the process. But the most important part of the process is getting in sync with each other. This alignment develops from mutual trust.
I would tell Thumper, “I’ll be on the flight line.” He knew this meant that I wouldn’t be 5 feet right or 5 feet left, I’ll be right on that flight line. Thumper could trust me to be where I needed to be.
Leaders Need High-Trust Contacts
As the leader, it would be up to me to set the timing corrections, set the altitude, and give the command to execute that full-stick deflection roll. As my wingman, Thumper had one job. To miss me.
99 times out of 100, Thumper would be where I needed him to be. But the crucial part was the communication and what we did when things weren’t perfect.
Without trust in each other and trust in our communication, someone’s going to die.
I would ask Thumper, “Are you ready?”
When I’ve got only 50 seconds to get my two jets over the center point and it’s going to take me 45, I would ask Thumper this question. When I ask: “Are you ready?”, what I’m asking is: “Are you in position, and are you committed?”
This was the highest level of trust. Thumper was what I call a “high-trust contact”. I trusted him to do what he needed to do. And he trusted me to do the same.
Think about it now. What trust do you have with your teammates? Do you have contacts that you can look in the eye and say “you can count on me, I’m going to count on you”?
Upholding Your Contracts
Written contracts are usually about creating certainty, but a verbal contract relies solely on trust and understanding.
The understanding Gucci had with Thumper was a verbal contract. Like with any other kind of contract, he could say “no, I’m not committed.” And when Thumper couldn’t commit and he wasn’t ready, Gucci needed to know so he could make the vital adjustments.
When things were running as they should, they had a different kind of communication. They said nothing. This is down to their verbal contract being one of trust. “I trust you to get it right and if it isn’t right, I trust you to tell me about it.”
What contracts do you have with people you know? What contracts do you have with your customers, your teammates, and your family members? Contracts are different with different people but they all rely on a mutual understanding of trust.
What Top Gun Can Teach You About Trust
The characters in Top Gun and the movie itself demonstrate the key elements of trust in an incredible way that we can all learn from.
Gucci was working on the aircraft carrier when the film crew and actors, including Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, were filming the original Top Gun movie.
Colored Shirt Commitments
In the opening scene of Top Gun, you’ll see a jet landing on an aircraft carrier and you’ll see Gucci and his teammates just doing their jobs. It was just a regular day for them, just normal operations.
You’ll see all these other people doing their jobs too. The white shirts, the yellow shirts, the brown shirts, the red shirts – and the purple shirts, who are known as Grapes.
The scene demonstrates the relentless and consistent teamwork performed by the crew on an aircraft carrier.
The colored shirts all have different roles and each one is vital to the safety and smooth-running of the machines and the pilots.
What does each color mean?
- Brown shirts – Maintenance staff. They chain the airplane to the deck the minute you get parked.
- White Shirts – Safety and Quality Control.
- Purple Shirts (Grapes) – They fuel you.
- Red Shirts – The ones that load the ordinance on.
- Yellow Shirts – Air wing ground control. They taxi you around. These guys are highly skilled individuals that place the aircraft 6 inches apart on the deck.
When you’re a pilot, you’ve got to trust these people with your life. You’re trusting each one of them to fulfill their contract and be committed to their work to keep you safe. And they’re each trusting you to do the same.
This is the deep trust and mutual understanding that we can rely on each other and be upfront about problems that need resolving. This builds a strong team.
Connect, Align, Commit
So how does trust impact your business?
Gucci has spoken to over 1000 organizations and he can see that most businesses have good processes, great systems, are utilizing technology, and making a difference to their end customers.
But he’s noticed 3 key features, like rare diamonds, that are only shared within the most successful and smooth-running companies.
These 3 values are created by trust and also work to strengthen trust.
The first is connection. Why does this matter? Because human beings need connection. We connect with each other and that connection branches out in all areas. Humans connect the world.
Connection in your business builds trust on the inside that spreads to trust on the outside, that’s both a power and a responsibility. Use connection to deepen that trust and do good for the world.
The second is alignment. When there are a lot of different roles and responsibilities in a team, there are a lot of moving parts that need to come together. Alignment is crucial. Alignment is a byproduct created by mutual trust, understanding, and connection.
The third is commitment. With commitment, it’s not enough to just talk about it, you have to really do it because when it comes to commitment, it shows more than anything else. You see the evidence every day when somebody is really committed.
Trust isn’t just a feeling, it’s a culture. And it’s a culture that can transform your results.
When you build connections, you create the alignment to follow through with your promises and deliver. Whether it’s your customers, shareholders, teammates, or even yourself.
Better alignment equals better results, which compounds that trust. This helps to strengthen your team and develop you into a high-performing organization.