Does Your Team Have a Chief Belief Officer?

by  David Dye  |  Leadership Development


In a state correctional facility, Christine had a problem.

With no prior supervisory experience, as one of a small handful of female staff in a mostly male prison, and with a highly diverse and contentious inmate population, she had been placed in charge of creating a clothing factory.

As if those weren’t enough barriers, prior attempts to open a similar factory in other state facilities had failed.


One year later, Christine’s factory was out-producing the prototype operation, had an impeccable safety record, and could run itself without supervision.

Turning Point

When I asked Christine what made such a rapid transition possible, she said:

It began with my belief in the people.

When they came to me, they wanted to tell me about what they had done on the outside – why they were in prison. I cut them off, told them I didn’t really care about who they were last year.

This is who we are going to be in this factory and this is what we’re going to do.

Most of them didn’t believe it at first, but pretty quickly they responded to someone believing in them.

She described how male inmates would initially object to sewing because they thought it wasn’t something men did. Christine would walk over to the industrial sewing machines, quietly operate it, produce a garment, return to the men and say, “You’re telling me women can run this industrial machine better than you men? I don’t believe that.”

When you tell your team, “You can!” your belief becomes their belief.

This is the distilled essence of leadership: transferring to your team the belief that together we can have a better tomorrow. You are the CBO – the Chief Belief Officer.

Your team needs to hear you say, “You can.”

Your Turn

Leave us a comment and tell us:

  • How a leader in your life was a C.B.O. for you?
  • How do you communicate your belief in your team?

Take care,


Creative Commons Photo by Wajahat Mahmood

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About The Author

Articles By david-dye
I work with leaders who want to build teams that care and get more done with fewer headaches.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Susan Mazza  |  21 Aug 2013  |  Reply

Great story and message. As leaders we all need to assume the position of Chief Belief Officer! Early in my consulting career I had an engagement manager who took a stand for me. I was not like the other consultants in that I was hired with a very different skill set so in the early days I was perceived as being less capable than the others. Instead Gershon took a stand for who I could be and what I could provide. Since before that I had always been considered a top performer I had not realized just how much I had taken other’s belief in me for granted. Here I was in a brand new I was feeling very unsure and vulnerable. His belief in me gave me courage and confidence and I very quickly started excelling in my new role despite how much there was yet for me to learn. It was a major turning point for me in my career. If it wasn’t for him I wonder if I would have stuck it out.

David M. Dye  |  21 Aug 2013  |  Reply


What a great story! I’m sure each of us has a Gershon in our life (and I know we can each be that Gershon for our team members.)

Thanks for sharing :)


Billy Wade  |  21 Aug 2013  |  Reply

I fully get what you are saying about a Chief Belief Officer. I am a pastor and Biblical Counselor at a church. And as a pastor who has counseled hundreds of people I noticed that many have lost all hope. One of the first things that I establish with my counselee’s is that they can do all things through Christ. I give them my full support in helping them overcome whatever obstacles that they are facing and encouraging them with hope, the one thing about hope is that hope does not disappoint. I love the encouragement that was given to the inmate not to live in the past and to focus on the task at hand.

Thank you,

Mr. Dye

David M. Dye  |  21 Aug 2013  |  Reply


I appreciate you drawing our attention to that vital ingredient: hope.

In so many ways, leaders are in the hope-business. Every leader ought to be communicating hope for the individual and the team…that together we can make things better than they are today.

Appreciate you!


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