Book Summary: The Speed of Trust

In this book, Stephen Covey and Rebecca Merrill show how to achieve continued, exceptional success in business by building an ethical attitude, honest motivation, and excellent skill rather than focusing on compliance.

There is one thing that every person, relationship, group, family, company, country, economic system, and society has in common. If eliminated, one thing will severely damage the most powerful state, profitable business, booming economy, impactful leadership, and strongest friendship on the planet.

Trust is that single thing.

Despite popular belief, trust is not a mushy, ephemeral trait that you either have or don't have.

Instead, trust is a practical, concrete, and actionable commodity that you can build far more quickly than you may expect. This book will get you started on that journey.

Think about the following scenario:

  • At work, I can't take the politics. My classmates have ruined my efforts. Everyone appears to be out for themselves and will go to any length to get ahead.
  • I work in an overburdened bureaucracy-ridden organization. Nothing gets done on time. I need to seek permission to purchase a pencil!
  • My supervisor likes to have complete control over me and everyone else at work. He regards us all as though we are untrustworthy.

Two outcomes are always influenced by trust: speed and expense. When trust is lost, momentum is lost, and costs rise. When people have more confidence in one another, they will work faster and spend less money.

Thus, trust is the foundation to build speed and success.

Consider this: people trust those who can make things happen.

The "Five Waves" are a trust hierarchy established by Covey and Merrill. Let's take a look at each of these "waves" individually.

The First Wave: Self Trust

An insurance agent with a shield and checkmark showing that there is trust in the service provided.

Integrity is the foundation of self-trust. When most people think of trust, this is what comes to mind. It's:

  • Putting your words into action.
  • About being consistent both on the inside and out.
  • Having the bravery to act on your ideas and convictions.

"Integrity" is derived from the same Latin root as "integrated" and "integer," and a person has integrity when there is no misalignment of intent, which leads to credibility and trust.

Trustworthy people follow through on their promises. They take action when they feel compelled to do so.

Humility is a part of integrity. It entails identifying a principle and prioritizing it over one's own interests. It involves sticking to one's principles even when confronted with resistance.

Integrity also includes the willingness to do the right thing, even when difficult.

So, how do you go about establishing Integrity? Ask yourself the following questions, according to Covey and Merrill:

  • Do I feel that my worldview is completely true and comprehensive, or am I open to hearing and considering fresh perspectives and ideas?
  • Do I actively evaluate, and am I willing to be affected by different points of view (from a supervisor, direct report, team member, spouse, or child)?
  • Do I suppose there are any principles I've yet to discover? Am I adamant about living by them, even if it involves adopting new thought patterns and attitudes?

The intent is a part of self-trust. This has to do with our motivations, goals, and subsequent actions. When our grounds are clear and focused on mutual benefit, trust increases. Motive, plan, and conduct are the three pillars of intent.

Your motivation is what drives you to do anything.

Real care is the motivator that inspires the most trust. It's genuine caring for people, genuine caring about objectives, true caring about the quality of what you do, genuine caring about society as a whole.

Motive is the source of the plan.

It's what you're planning to accomplish or promote due to your motivation. Seeking mutual benefit—genuinely desiring what's best for everyone involved—in the plan that often inspires the most trust.

You care about the people around you. And you sincerely want them to succeed. Yes, you want to win for yourself; it's normal, desired, and understandable. But you're also looking for a victory for everyone else.

Usually, conduct is the outward embodiment of a person's motives and goals.

Acting in the best interests of others is the most credible and trust-inspiring behavior. When we do so, we clearly demonstrate our desire to help others and our objective of mutual gain. This is the point when the rubber hits the road. It's simple to say things like "I care" and "I want you to win," but our actions show whether or not we mean it.

How to Improve Intent

A businessman declaring what he wants to achieve as it signals his conducts.

  • Examine and fine-tune your motivations. It's a natural human propensity to believe we have good—or at the very least, justifiable—intent. Is that true, though? It's time to assess the situation honestly.
  • Declare what you want to achieve. It "signals your conduct" in the sense that it tells people what to look for so they can identify, comprehend, and respect it when they see it.
  • Pick abundance. The term "abundance" refers to the fact that there is enough for everyone. On the other hand, scarcity implies that there is only so much of anything to go around, and if you get it, I won't.

Capabilities are embraced through self-trust. Our skills, dispositions, expertise, education, and flair are the qualities that give us confidence. They're the tools we employ to get things done.

We must always develop our talents to maintain our credibility in today's environment. The term "TASKS" is suggested by Covey and Merrill as a method to think about the multiple aspects of capabilities.

  • T for talents, which are our innate abilities and endowments.
  • A stands for attitudes representing our paradigms – our ways of seeing and being.
  • S stands for skills, which are our abilities or things we excel in.
  • K stands for knowledge, reflecting our knowledge, insight, comprehension, and awareness.
  • S stands for style, which symbolizes our own approach and attitude.

The goal is to build our TASKS and apply them to the job at hand. This leads to the best possible harmony among our natural talents, interests, abilities, knowledge, and style and the potential to profit, give, and make such a difference.

The same can be said for businesses that depend only on what has worked in the past. They also fail to adapt to the demands and difficulties of the new global economy.

Companies risk becoming outdated and outmoded if they do not participate in continual improvement, including in certain circumstances drastic change.

How to Increase Your Capabilities

A female leader making the strategic path and planning according to the team's strength.

Play to your strengths (and with your purpose).

Simply understand your strengths (whether they are Talents, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, or Style) and then focus on engaging, growing, and utilizing what is uniquely yours.

Maintain your relevance.

You must be committed to lifelong learning. Although schooling teaches you how to read, write, comprehend, and explain, its primary goal is to prepare you for lifelong learning.

You should know where you're heading.

Another method to demonstrate expertise is to see where you're headed and have the skills to get there. And when ability meets character, you have a genuine leader that people want to follow—not because they have to, but because they want to.

Results are what determine self-trust. This pertains to our proven record, performance, and ability to do tasks correctly. It tarnishes our reputation if we don't do what we're supposed to do.

We develop a positive reputation as a manufacturer when we provide the promised outcomes. It's all about the outcomes! You may have justifications and could even have a reasonable cause.

But, when the day ends, if the results aren't there, the credibility and trust aren't either. Our credibility stems from our past and current performance. It also comes from the level of trust people have in our potential to provide outcomes in the future.

When evaluating results, you must ask two important questions: What results I'm getting? And how am I obtaining those outcomes?

The majority of folks merely inquire about the “what.” The lack of belief that the answer to “how” may be the death of them.

The “how” may create major barriers in the future or lubricate the skids. It's a lot simpler to obtain results the following time if people trust you and know you'll give credit where credit is due, seek mutual gain, and avoid placing blame.

They have faith in your ability to achieve results in a way that benefits them and everyone involved.

The truth is that no result is ever solely the product of one person's or organization's efforts; they are the result of many.

Understanding and recognizing the significance of a supporting role in achieving achievements allows us to appreciate our own contributions and the contributions of others more properly.

What can we do to improve our performance?

The three accelerators listed below, according to Covey and Merrill, are the most effective techniques to boost our results:

  • Accept accountability for the outcomes. After all, that's why businesses exist, so why shouldn't outcomes be our first priority?
  • Expect to succeed. The basic premise is that we tend to get what we expect from ourselves and others. When we expect more, we are more likely to receive it; when we expect less, we are more likely to receive it.
  • Finish on a high note. When a great marathon runner "hits the wall," they don't dwell on tiredness or the "survival shuffle." Instead, they raise their head and step up their pace, signaling to themselves that they're not just going to finish; they're going to finish strong.

The Second Wave: Relationship Trust

A business rep having a direct conversation with a customer, representing a truthful straight to the point conversations.

The Second Wave, which focuses on conduct, is known as Relationship Trust. It's a pattern of behavior. It's all about learning how to communicate with others in ways that build trust rather than ones that erode it.

To reinforce this wave, Covey and Merrill have established another list of 13 characteristics typically found in high-trust leaders and individuals that stem from the four cores of self-trust:

Behavior #1: Talk directly.

Be truthful. Tell it like it is. Make it clear where you stand. Don't be afraid to call things what they are. Don't play with people's emotions or mislead them with false information. Do not distort the truth. Don't give the wrong impression.

Behavior #2: Have some respect.

Genuinely care about other people. Demonstrate your concern. Everyone's and every role's dignity must be respected. Small acts of kindness may make a big difference. Don't act as though you care.

Behavior #3: Bring clarity.

Tell the facts in a way that can be verified by others. Get down to business. Be honest and upfront. Don't have any hidden motives and operate on the principle of "What you see is what you get."

Behavior #4: Fix your mistakes.

When you're wrong, make amends. Apologize as soon as possible. Personal humility should be demonstrated. Don't hide anything. Allowing pride to come in the way of doing the right thing is not a good idea.

Behavior #5: Show your loyalty.

Give credit where credit is due. Recognize other people's contributions. Talk about them as though they're right there with you. Advocate for those who are unable to speak for themselves.

Behavior #6: Achieve results.

Create a track record of accomplishments. Get the job done correctly. Complete the task for which you were recruited. Stay on schedule and on budget. Don't make promises you can't keep.

Behavior #7: Improve your skills.

Keep improving regularly. Be a lifelong learner. Take action based on the input you've received. Thank people for their comments. Don't think of yourself as impervious to criticism. Don't presume that your current knowledge and abilities will be enough to meet tomorrow's problems.

Behavior #8: Face reality.

Face matters front on, especially the "undiscussable," and deal with the difficult situations head-on. Recognize the unspoken. In discourse, take a bold stance. Don't avoid dealing with genuine issues.

Behavior #9: Make expectations clear.

Expectations should be disclosed and revealed. They should be discussed. Validate your findings. If necessary and practicable, rework them. Do not even assume that everyone's expectations are the same.

Behavior #10: Be accountable.

Raise yourself to a higher standard. Assume responsibility for others. Accept responsibility for the outcomes. Make a plan for how you'll convey your progress—and that of others.

Behavior #11: First, listen.

Before you talk, pay attention. Understand. Make a diagnosis. Observe with your hearing, sight, and emotions. Don't make the mistake of assuming you grasp what matters most to others. Don't assume you know all there is to know—or that you know everything there is to know.

Behavior #12: Keep your promises.

Declare what you're planning to do, and then follow through on it. Make thoughtful promises and stick to them. Don't betray people's trust. If you've breached a promise, don't try to "PR" your way out of it.

Behavior #13: Elevate trust.

Show a willingness to trust people. Extend a great deal of faith to people who have earned it. Ramp up trust on a conditional basis to those who have made it. Don't be afraid to put your confidence in someone because there is a danger involved.

The Third Wave: Organizational Trust—The Principle Of Alignment

A group of teammates exchanging information freely, representing a high-trust organization.

Inside a low-trust company, cultural behavior patterns like the following occur:

  • Facts are manipulated or distorted by people.
  • People hold back and stockpile relevant data.
  • Getting the acknowledgment is highly crucial.
  • People distort the truth to their benefit.
  • Fresh ideas are publicly suppressed and fought against.
  • Failures are hidden or kept under wraps.
  • The majority of individuals engage in finger-pointing, slandering others.
  • There is a lot of water-cooler chatter.
  • There seem to be several meetings after meetings.

In a high-trust organization, on the other hand:

  • Information is freely exchanged.
  • Making mistakes is accepted and welcomed as a means of learning.
  • The culture is forward-thinking and creative.
  • Those who are absent are loyal to those who are present.
  • People talk openly and face actual concerns.
  • There is authentic communication and true collaboration.

If your company's symbols convey and promote distrust—or less trust than you would want? With your organizational hat on, return to the Four Cores and ask yourself:

  • Is there Integrity in my company? Do we know who we are and what we stand for?
  • Is my organization well-intentioned? Is there a culture of caring—for each other? For our clients? Do we truly want everyone to succeed?
  • What are my company's abilities? Do we have the resources to provide value? Do we have the Talents, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, and Style (TASKS) we need to succeed in today's market and keep them?
  • Does my company provide results? Do we follow through on our promises?

The Fourth Wave: Market Trust—The Principle Of Reputation

A business woman looking through her firm's social media to analyze the reviews and reputation of her company.

Market Trust is really about the brand or public image. It's about the sensation that makes you want to acquire items or services, spend money or time, and/or advise others to do the same.

This is the point at which the majority of people recognize the link between trust, speed, and expenses.

Here are some numbers to think about.

  • 39% of people say they would start or expand their business with a firm based only on its trustworthiness or reliability.
  • 53% of respondents stated they will stop, slow down, or turn their business to a competitor since they have issues about a company's trust or Integrity.
  • 83% said they're more willing to give a corporation they trust the due credit. And hear their version of events before passing judgment on its actions.

To improve, you must examine Market Trust through the prism of your own "company." Consider your customers' point of view.

Returning to the "Four Cores," consider the following:

  • Does my business have integrity? Do we have a good reputation for being truthful? Do we have principles that people can believe in and rely on? Do we have a name in the industry for tackling difficult challenges head-on and for acknowledging and correcting mistakes?
  • Does my brand have a positive intent? Are we viewed as merely "out to earn a profit?" Or do folks feel that we care deeply and want to assist and support those around us?
  • Is my brand displaying capabilities? Do people equate our name with quality, greatness, continued improvement, and the power to change and preserve value and importance in a global economic era?
  • Is there a link between my brand and results? Do people believe we follow through on our promises?

The Fifth Wave: Societal Trust—The Principle Of Contribution

2 security guards guarding the diamond that holds value. Just like trust, contribution needs to add value, not deplete it.

Contribution is the overarching premise of communal trust. It's the desire to add value rather than deplete it, to give rather than take.

People increasingly recognize the importance of contribution—and the causes it inspires—to a healthy society.

Many purposeful efforts still take the form of the industrial revolution concept of philanthropy. This means making a profit and giving money to great causes. The general pattern is transitioning more toward the comprehensive-knowledge-workforce age worldview of globalization.

So it is with our businesses. Is our company credible? We ask, sure, the "Four Cores" once more.

  • Do we have integrity, and do we demonstrate it through our actions?
  • Do we show a willingness to help others, participate, and give back?
  • Are we equipped to change things?
  • Do we deliver results for all stakeholders, not just shareholders?

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