Stephen M.R. Covey shares fondly the example his father exhibited to him as child and what he carries today with him as a successful business leader. “As good as my father was in public, as an author and as a teacher; he was even better in private, as a husband to my mother and as a father to his kids. He was what you thought he was. He was the real deal.”
Covey, co-founder and CEO of CoveyLink Worldwide, personally led the strategy that propelled his father’s book, Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and authored his own groundbreaking book, The Speed of Trust. He spoke on the focus of his own work and what he says is the one thing that changes everything – trust.
Covey emphasized the importance of understanding how vital trust is and how business leaders can turn the creation of trust into their greatest strength.
He began with the following exercise:
Identify a person that you work with and whom you have a high-trust relationship.
Jot down your first impressions to these questions:
- What is it like to work with this person?
- What is it like to communicate with this person?
- How fast can you get things done?
- What kind of results are you able to achieve?
Now identify a second person that you need to work with but with whom you have a low-trust relationship or with whom the trust-level is not where you want it to be. Now re-answer those same questions.
Describe the difference in these relationships.
What did you discover? These relationships are night-and-day different. Do you think you could put a financial price tag on that difference? Absolutely.
There are 3 big ideas that Covey conveys when it comes to trust:
1) There is a business case for trust: Trust is an economic driver, not merely a social virtue.
Trust affects 2 measurable outcomes: speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up. This is called Low-Trust Tax. Take a look at what happened with airplane travel since 9/11. Steps must be taken to compensate for the lack of trust and it costs. Conversely, there is what is known as a High-Trust Dividend: when trust goes up, speed goes up and cost goes down. Think of your Vistage peer-advisory group as an example.
High trust organizations outperform low trust organizations by 286% in Total Return to Shareholders. – Watson Wyatt/ Human Capital study
This is the economics of trust.
2) There is a leadership case for trust: Trust is the #1 competency of leadership needed today.
You can’t collaborate with people you can’t trust. Trust makes you better in every other competency you need to have as a leader. Trust is the one thing that changes everything. It is the foundation of leadership. As Warren Bennis posed it, “Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.”
3) Trust is a learnable competency.
There are 5 Waves of Trust according to Covey. At the middle is self-trust which ripples out to relationship trust, then organizational trust, then market (or external) trust, and finally to societal trust. “As trust is manifest in each successive wave, the effect of trust becomes cumulative and exponential,” he explains.
The way we diagnose is from the outside moving in, but when you want to change something or transform something, you start from the inside moving out. It is vital to start with self-trust. When you start there, everything takes root.
The key principle behind self-trust is credibility. Credibility is the foundation on which all trust is built. Character and competence are what build credibility.
The 4 Cores of Credibility include:
- Integrity (Character) – your honesty and truthfulness and includes congruence, humility, and courage. A true test for integrity is how you behave when there is a cost or consequence.
- Intent (Character) – your motive or agenda and the behavior that follows. A test of your intent is to see how you care about the people you are serving. Be transparent in your relationships. It matters to show your intent.
- Capabilities (Competence) – your capacity to produce and accomplish tasks. Test yourself by asking: Are you relevant? Are you improving?
- Results (Competence) – What’s your track record? People evaluate your results/performance on three key indicators: past performance, current performance, and anticipated performance.
Take the 4 cores of credibility and pick 1 you choose to work on – one that if you choose to work on, will make you a better leader.
How might improving this Core of Credibility help you increase trust in your business relationships and your personal relationships?