The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything
by Stephen M. R. Covey
I want to take a moment here to attempt to clarify a few things that tweaked my curiosity right off the bat when I first discovered this book.
This author is NOT the man who authored The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This is his son. I must admit that my first thought dealt with Jr.’s authenticity and, to be honest, whether this new author was simply cashing in on the family name.
Well, after a little research, I discovered that Stephen M.R. Covey may not be his father but was certainly his own man and has obviously established his own list of credits. He is the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which, under his stewardship, became the largest leadership development company in the world. A Harvard MBA, he joined Covey Leadership Center as a client developer and later became national sales manager and then President and CEO.
In that position, he nearly doubled revenues to more than $110 million while increasing profits by 12 times. The company rapidly expanded throughout the world into more than 40 countries. The company was valued at $2.4 million when he took over the helm and, within three years, he grew shareholder value to $160 million in a merger he orchestrated with then Franklin Quest to form Franklin Covey. Stephen Jr. is indisputably his own man.
I know this is trite to most, but I was also intrigued by the fact that the author has two middle initials as I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who could make that claim. Again I did some research but couldn’t find a single reference to his middle name. Again, trite but curious.
Now to the book. You don’t see many books on the subject of trust in today’s bookstores, and I find that quite odd when you consider the subject lies at the forefront of most every news story emerging these days. Lack of trust appears very apparent as today’s political scene is riddled with scandal on every front. Add to that list the financial industry, the auto industry, religion, energy, news, and sports … it’s almost easier to name those segments of society which haven’t been impacted by events resulting in the lack of trust. And yet, no one seems to want to discuss the topic of trust.
Trust is vitally crucial in getting anything done in today’s environment. The continuing decline is a major issue not just in business, but socially, politically and in the family. Covey declares that trust is the very basis of the new global economy, and he shows how trust is the essential ingredient for any high–performance, successful organization.
The author does a very insightful job of investigating the components of trust, and exploring and explaining the dynamics of how trust can be built and destroyed in families, in teams, and in institutions.
Covey believes that we must navigate what he calls the “5 Waves of Trust” … derived from the “ripple effect” metaphor that graphically illustrates the interdependent nature of trust and how it flows from the inside out. The “5 Waves of Trust” includes:
- The First Wave: SELF TRUST (based on the principle of credibility)
- The Second Wave: RELATIONSHIP TRUST (based on the principle of proper behavior)
- The Third Wave: ORGANIZATIONAL TRUST (based on the principle of alignment)
- The Fourth Wave: MARKET TRUST (based on the principle of reputation)
- The Fifth Wave: SOCIETAL TRUST (based on the principle of contribution)
Covey also outlines 13 behaviors of trust-inspiring leaders which work together to create balance. As he describes each behavior he notes the principles upon which each is based. He also gives the opposite and the counterfeit for each behavior. At the end of his behavior description, Covey suggests a few “Trust Tips” and a few specific suggestions for ways to apply that particular behavior. The behaviors include:
- Talk Straight
- Demonstrate Respect
- Create Transparency
- Right Wrongs
- Show Loyalty
- Deliver Results
- Get Better
- Confront Reality
- Clarify Expectations
- Practice Accountability
- Listen First
- Keep Commitments
- Extend Trust
Most of the book is taken up with examining those five waves and their underlying principles that establish trust.
You’ll enjoy the touching foreword by the author’s father, Stephen R. Covey, as well as Covey’s down-to-earth approach and disarming personal stories which go a long way to establish rapport with his reader. However, I did feel that the content could have been successfully conveyed in far less than the 354 pages utilized by the author.
Restoring trust within an organization may seem difficult; however, the fact that high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations by three times provides a strong incentive to make the effort, and I think this book couldn’t have been written at a more appropriate time. Let’s just hope the right people read it and then take the necessary actions to remedy their current dire straights.
(This book review was originally published in 2009 as one of the Top 10 Books – Edition 19.)