Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Speed of Trust - Stephen Covey

Once in a while, I come across books that makes me reminisce those old NSC days. I am sure if NSC were alive today, the book 'The Speed of Trust" would be talked about by the management and supervisory circles or even make a good training material.

The Speed of Trust
is a book by Stephen M.R. Covey, son of Stephen R. Covey who wrote the best-selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Covey's thrust in the book is more for corporate scenarios, but I got interested as I am taking trust as an everyday virtue for any relationship. Below are some highlights of the book.

Trust is a learnable competency. We all know it takes a long time to build trust, and it can be destroyed in one act. But Covey points out specific behaviours that can build and restore trust, and how to fast-track learning and using them.

Becoming more trust competent depends on understanding trust, and practicing trust-building behaviour. Covey outlines four core dimensions of trust, and several specific behaviours.

Four Cores of Credibility
Trust is a combination of character and competence.

1. Character is integrity: Who we really are; congruency in values, beliefs, and behaviours; deep honesty; humility; and courage. Do you make and keep commitments to yourself, and others? Do you stand for something? Are you open? Do you have the courage to act in accordance with your values and beliefs?

2. Character is also intent: Genuine concern and caring for others; our fundamental motive or agenda; seeking mutual benefit; acting in others' best interests. Do you examine your motives? Do you have a hidden agenda?

3. Competence is capabilities: The capacities we have that inspire confidence; our abilities to produce and accomplish; it is TASKS (Talents, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, Style). Do we run with our strengths and purpose? Keep ourselves relevant? Know where we are going?

4. Competence is also about results: Our track record, past and present; getting the right things done; accomplishing the desired objectives. Do we take responsibility for results, not just actions and rule compliance? Do we expect to win? Do we finish strong?

Our level of trustworthiness depends on how people see us on those four dimensions. Trust can be built, more quickly than many think, by focusing on key behaviours. And by stating one is trying to become more trustworthy, asking for feedback, and acting on it, through these behaviours.

Trust-Building (and Restoring) Behaviours

1. Talk straight: Be honest, don't spin doctor, and don't leave false impressions.

2. Demonstrate respect: Genuinely care for others. Treat everyone with respect, including those who can't do anything for you.

3. Create transparency: Err on the side of disclosure. Don't have hidden agendas. Don't hide information (good or bad).

4. Right wrongs: Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Practice "service recoveries." Don't let hubris get in the way of doing the right thing. Don't rationalize wrongs.

5. Show loyalty: Give credit to others. Don't badmouth others behind their backs.

6. Deliver results: Get the right things done. Be on time, on budget, don't make excuses for not delivering.

7. Get better: Seek feedback and thank people for it. Continuously improve. Be a constant learner. Don't assume your current skills will be sufficient for tomorrow's challenges.

8. Confront reality: Address the tough stuff directly. Confront the reality, not the person. Acknowledge the unsaid, lead out courageously in conversation.

9. Clarify expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Validate them. Don't assume they are clear and shared.

10. Practice accountability: Hold your self accountable. Hold others account able. Take responsibility for results. Own up.

11. Listen first: Understand, diagnose. Find out what is important to those you work with.

12. Keep commitments: Say what you are going to do. Then do what you said. Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honour.

13. Extend trust: Demonstrate a propensity to trust - abundantly to those who have earned it, conditionally to those who are earning it.

Corporate or not, "The Speed of Trust" is still a good read.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Bong S. for the correction. Both father and son are named Stephen Covey. I originally wrote Harvey Covey as the father -- a name I can never explain where I got. Mea culpa.