Stephen Covey teaches about The Speed of Trust

Stephen M. R. Covey explains the greater speed and flow of high-trust environments and organizations.

So I was in Borders yesterday looking without success for Ira Berlin’s new book, The Making of African America, when I came across Stephen M. R. Covey’s The Speed of Trust.

Browsing though eight different sections, pulling three or four books from the shelves, going over to the plush and comfortable big chairs and starting to plough through them is one of my favorite things to do.

Yesterday was no exception.

I mistakenly thought that this Covey was the author of the acclaimed Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame, a book that spawned the abundantly used phrase, “proactive.”

It turns out this Stephen Covey is the son.

After getting past this authorial equivalent of a Richard J. and Richard M. Daley moment, I understood that my error made little difference.

The Speed of Trust has all the imprints of the father’s work, with its emphasis on values, its fusion of self-help with business management philosophy and practice,  its sprinkling of personal anecdotes and quotes from famous people like Mahatma Gandhi, and its delineation of a way to assess, then improve, one’s level of trust.

Covey suggests starting with oneself and moving out into ever larger spheres of interaction.  He argues against the idea that trust, once lost, can never regained, although he cautions that it is a difficult process.

He says that trust can be broken into character and competence, and identifies 13 behaviors that lead to greater levels of trust  like making yourself accountable to follow through on your commitments and talking straight.

For me, this was relatively familiar territory (On a side note, I chuckled a bit when I read the numerous citations of Tiger Woods as an example of continuous improvement.).

Covey’s point, though, is that trust is not only necessary for high productivity, high levels of it lead to a freer, faster and more productive atmosphere.

Families, organizations and businesses with lots of trust can have as much as a 40 percent benefit, while those that have far less pay a “trust tax,” he argues.

As with many of the Covey and other business/self-improvement works, The Speed of Trust contains a diagnostic tool that illustrates these various levels of more or less trust.

I found this part quite helpful.  Many of us have been in situations where documenting what you do and CYAing is the general tenor of the place, where there is little free-flowing exchange, and where projects advance at an achingly slow pace.

Being in those environments can be painful and stifling.

Covey advocates being in a zone where you are heeding the late Ronald Reagan’s injunction to trust, but verify.

This made sense to me, while Covey’s writing approvingly in the latter part of the book that some companies are looking to boost their trust levels so as to be more productive did not.

To me, this appeared to contradict his call in the rest of the book for acting trustworthy because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s a business strategy that will yield greater profits.

Be that as it may, and despite my initially believing I was reading something by his father, The Speed of Trust has a useful perspective and plenty of practical tips.

And, while Ira Berlin’s book was not at Borders, I was able to snag a copy at the Evanston Public Library, along with Mary Catherine Bateson’s Composing A Life.

You know what I’ll be doing after I’m done with this post.

That’s a statement you can trust.

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2 responses to “Stephen Covey teaches about The Speed of Trust

  1. I was not familiar with this book by Stephen Covey’s son, but I definitely plan to check it out at Border’s, probably this afternoon. I am now re-reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen the father, and I just wrote a brief post about it yesterday. I really get his ideas this time around. Check out my current post and the quote I cite from 7 Habits and share your thoughts, if you care to.

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