Earning your team’s trust by adopting coaching techniques

FirstlineFirstline December 2021
Volume 16
Issue 6

At the 2021 ACVC, Kristina Guldbrand, BS, ACC, CVT, shared the importance of developing coaching skills to empower your team members and build their trust.

Becoming a coach, according to certified leadership and wellness coach Kristina Guldbrand, BS, ACC, CVT, is obtainable to anyone and includes a desirable skill set that can be of service to industry leaders. Adopting coaching skills can help veterinary team members achieve their full potential while simultaneously building their trust.

At the 2021 Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference (ACVC) in Atlantic City, Guldbrand discussed the ins and outs of trust and coaching, and how to fuse these skills into veterinary clinics.1


Guldbrand quoted Charles Feltman,2 NCOC, MA, by defining trust as “choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.” She asked attendees to reflect on how they build someone’s trust—noting this is likely unique to each individual. However, she explained that, universally, “trust is built in small moments,” and if you offer someone an opportunity to earn your trust, they can either recognize it and show up for you or ignore it.

Guldbrand continued to emphasize the importance, as a veterinary leader, to be mindful of when you are showing up for your team members versus when you are not, if you want to try to gain their trust. To start, she outlined the 7 elements of trust or the “BRAVING” acronym according to Brené Brown,3 PhD, MSW:

  • Boundaries: Having your own set of boundaries and expressing them clearly to others and respecting other peoples’ boundaries as well.
  • Reliability: Consistently showing up for others even when it is inconvenient for you.
  • Accountability: Taking responsibility for your actions and communicating with others about what you are capable (or incapable) of doing.
  • Vault: Keeping someone else’s important information to yourself and not gossiping.
  • Integrity: Practicing—rather than professing—your values.
  • Nonjudgment: Communicating what you need and allowing others to do the same without judgment.
  • Generosity: Welcoming others and making them feel comfortable while being kind.

Developing coaching skills to earn trust

According to Guldbrand, coaching is helping others change in the way they desire by guiding them in the right direction and, when executed properly, can ultimately result in built trust. She added that coaching supports each person in becoming their best self by asking insightful questions while promoting awareness, empowering choice, and resulting in change. It is important to note that coaching also helps others learn individually and consists of a partnership, plus provides a sounding board and involves nonjudgment.


A partnership means the coach doesn’t know all the answers to every problem, and they do not pretend to know either. Instead, Guldbrand said they should be there to listen and offer support so team members can thrive on their own.

“A partnership is not, ‘I’m the manager, so I’m just going to do everything for you,”’ she said. “A partnership looks like, ‘Okay, I’m going to help you problem-solve so you can get a handle of what’s going on here, but I’m not going to do it for you. I can’t do the work for you. I hired the right people to be here.’”

Sounding board

According to Guldbrand, the sounding board is “a very powerful tool.” It involves reflective listening and asking open-ended questions, enabling the team member to elaborate and be specific to get to the bottom of a situation.


Once again, this is a key aspect of developing someone’s trust and a defining characteristic of a coach. Team members can explain their thought processes and be met with curiosity rather than judgment. Guldbrand used the example of shifting the statement from, “Well, you should have probably done that,” to, “Can you tell me why that seemed like the right choice for you at the time?” which allows for the team member to provide clarity without being judged.


Incorporating coaching methods into your leadership style at the veterinary clinic sets up situations for you to earn others’ trust. This skill set improves your relationship with your staff and clients, which can ultimately help promote the business and enhance everyone’s day-to-day at the clinic.


  1. Guldbrand K. Building trust in your team with a coaching leadership style. Presented at: Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference; Atlantic City, New Jersey. October 11-13, 2021.
  2. Feltman C, Marshall A, Bendis K, Hammond SA, Hammond R. The Thin Book of Trust: An Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work. 1st ed. Thin Book Publishing Company; 2008.
  3. Brown B. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. 1st ed. New York, NY: Random House; 2018.
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