Book Summary: Speed of Trust – Stephen M. R. Covey 12/24/2010
By Jeff Abbott
Trust is a hard asset in your business that affects the cost and speed at which business gets done. When trust is high, cost goes down and speed goes up. Conversely, when trust is low, cost goes up and speed comes to a crawl. So Trust is a “hard” dynamic to be considered before any activity is started.
• Do I exhibit character traits of trust and integrity?
• Do I care about people? Do I exhibit care?
• Do I have pure intentions? Are they visible?
• As a leader, am I competent? Or do I pretend?
• Am I always “under construction? Lifetime Learner?
• Am I a doer? Do I get stuff done?
• Does confidence or fear mark my tendencies?
• Are my skills relevant or obsolete?
• Do I ask for help? Am I resourceful? Do I know where to get it?
• Am I working on stuff that will really make a difference? Or do I concentrate on things that don’t really matter?
How Do I Behave?
To lead others, we must model behaviors. Over many generations, humans have learned to “work the system”. No one really aims at behaving in a way that would cause a leak in trust, but we have handed down for generations behaviors that mimic the real thing in order to skate by. Which behaviors might exist in your life that betray your desire to live a life of integrity and to establish a culture of trust in your organization?
The 13 Behaviors
The following are the 13 behaviors noted in the book that build trust. (See table on page 3). Conversely trust leaks if these behaviors are missing. It requires consistency in your patterns to establish trust…day after day, year after year, until it is well established. It becomes your character, your reputation. To ruin trust, it doesn’t take nearly as long. Take a look at these and see if any stand out as either confirmation or signs of gaps in trust building behaviors in your work, home, or social life:
1. Talk Straight – Honesty
Who would admit that lying is my M.O.? But how many of us either withhold info or color the facts to our advantage? Do we spin the story in our favor? Do we “waffle”? There is a fine line between the honest story and a little embellishment. This is a big temptation. Do you realize that people eventually see through that? Do your followers know?
2. Demonstrate Respect
Many of us make a point of disrespecting others. Sometimes we miss opportunities to bless others or to learn from them because for whatever reason we withhold respect. As a leader, we sabotage ourselves in so doing because respect is reciprocal. Other times we pretend to respect others so we can get from them what we want or need. Trust will be short lived in such a situation.
3. Create Transparency
It is thought to be wise to hide your cards. That is good for poker, but in life, “not so much”. Subordinates hide information if the culture surrounding them is fear based. But if you as a leader set the tone, transparency is the better trust building tool. Create a safe place to share the real story and reward that behavior.
4. Right Wrongs
Most people believe that ignoring a wrong done is the best way to deal with confrontation. Our emotions have long memories. It is best to handle wrongs done while they are fresh. Cover ups, story spinning and ignoring ugly situations will destroy trust in the long run. Followers are waiting to see a measure of fairness from their leaders. Failure to deal with the serious matters will be seen as weakness, and will erode trust.
5. Show Loyalty
Give people credit generously. There is nothing that will damage trust faster than blaming others for your failures and taking credit for other’s efforts. Is our loyalty contaminated by pretense? It will bleed through eventually and cause trust to leak.
6. Deliver Results
More than any time in history, our personal performance is scrutinized when people are making decisions to put their confidence in us. It is often overlooked in life that beyond someone’s character traits, one needs to actually deliver the goods. Many of us have hired people based upon their “nice guy” components and have failed to assess their ability to get the job done. Character + Results = Trust.
7. Get Better
So many of us have undertaken a journey with a big idea or goal in mind for a career, business or ministry only to achieve our objective and rest on a plateau once we get there. The reasons for that are many faceted. We run out of ideas, energy, passion, focus, direction and other elements that keep us sharp and on the path of improvement. We need others around us to help propel us through the ruts in life and help us see our way to getting ever better at what we’re gifted to do. We are wise to keep learning, keep listening, keep striving. Followers are watching.
8. Confront Reality
“The king has no clothes!” Nowhere in our lives is this more apparent than when a leader refuses to address some glaring negative issue. It seems sometimes the only person that doesn’t know is the leader himself/herself. People lose faith in you if you can’t muster the wisdom or courage to deal with reality. A good 360 degree assessment of behavior patterns will prevent these illusions from living on. Are we brave enough to ask?
9. Clarify Expectations
All of our relationships require clear expectations, whether spoken or unspoken. Most disagreements develop from assumptions. I assumed, you assumed, they assumed. To avoid conflict and to become a higher achiever, set clear expectations and revisit progress often. Check in. How are we doing? This will have a profound effect on trust, especially when you follow through on actions.
10. Practice Accountability
One of the most difficult things for us to do in life, especially for leaders, is to establish a culture around us of accountability. A big reason for that is that we ourselves are not comfortable with it. In order to see more accountability in our organizations, we need to model accountability and become more accountable ourselves. Do we go to with the wisdom of our counselors and mentors? Or do we dodge around? What is your culture telling you?
11. Listen First
How many times have we really upset a relationship because we acted first and listened later? Usually the damage is done by that time. It’s amazing to me how quickly I forget my lessons and how often I repeat the offense. When we listen, we validate the other party. When we share their issues, we grant to them the benefit of the doubt. If we seek first to understand, we build their trust. Conversely, we will destroy trust if we close the case without giving the other party a voice.
12. Keep Commitments
It is obvious to me that breaking commitments is a fast way to break trust. However, I never thought that being vague, passive or afraid to commit was a trust breaker as well. If you think of trust as CONFIDENCE for a moment, you can see how making strong commitments would be a confidence and hope-building tool. If you make firm commitments and keep them, you will provide hope and trust.
13. Extend Trust
Trusting others requires effort and discipline on our part. Leaders and mentors always will have reason to withhold trust because of our negative experiences in the past. But to go with our fears in this case is not good policy. Don’t let that tendency cause you to withdraw trust. The trust cycle is a spiral…either upwards or downwards. If you give trust to others, they reciprocate. If you withhold, you give others cause to withhold as well. Withholding trust will spiral your organization into a dark place of distrust. Resist that temptation, even if you have been burned in the past. Learn to be cautious without withholding trust.
Show me a leader gone awry, a relationship broken, an organization not functioning, and I’ll show you a leader leaking trust. If you will pay close attention to your trust markers and address them in your life, your chances of trust building will grow. We all violate one or another of these principles and behaviors over time, but it is crucial to address the gaps as you become aware of them. Try being transparent and allowing others to give you some feedback. You will build trust.
The Four Corners of Trust: Character and Competency
Do we have a culture of honesty?
Integrated and congruent with values
Are our motives about mutual benefit?
Do we genuinely care for all of our people?
Do we have what it takes to compete with the market today?
Do we continuously improve?
Do we have the right Talents and Skills?
Track record and reputation of the organization
Do we get the right things done?
Are we known as people who get the job done?
The Behaviors of Trust
No. Behavior Opposite Counterfeit Comments Score
1 Talk Straight
To lie or deceive Withholding info
Spinning the story Don’t waffle
2 Demonstrate Respect
Value of individuals
Disrespect Fake respect or selective respect Not just for my purposes
3 Create Transparency
Hidden agendas and truth Making things appear OK Be authentic
4 Right Wrongs
Making restitution, whole
Justify wrongs, denial Cover up and hide mistakes Double tax- wrong, then cover up
5 Show Loyalty
Give credit to others
Take credit myself Two faced – sweet talk, then bad mouth Give credit abundantly
6 Deliver Results
Fail to deliver Activities and talk instead of results Quickest way to lose trust
7 Get Better
Complacency, don’t take risks, entropy Fluffy activities and rhetoric Quick way to get better is to get feedback
8 Confront Reality
Ignore it, bury your head in the sand Act as if you care, do nothing about it Solutions come faster when solving problems
9 Clarify Expectations
Spell it out
Leave it undefined and assume Lip service with no action You will have problems in the absence of clarity here
10 Practice Accountability
Own your responsibility
Don’t own your stuff Point fingers, blame Creates independency and trust
11 Listen First
Understanding and respect
Act first without taking in facts Pretend listening while forming reply Seek first to understand, then to be understood
12 Keep Commitments
Break promises Vagueness and fear of commitment Make: Builds hope
Keep: Builds trust
13 Extend Trust
Spiral up, not down
Withhold trust Fake trust, then snooper-vise, control Extending trust will impact more than being careful
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