The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

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9781455893393: The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything
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In this powerful audiobook, Stephen M.R. Covey articulates why trust has become the key leadership competency of the new global economy. Covey convincingly makes the case that trust is a measurable accelerator to performance and that when trust goes up, speed also goes up while cost comes down, producing what Covey calls a "trust dividend." Covey reveals the 13 Behaviors common to high-trust leaders throughout the world and demonstrates actionable insights that will enable you to shift your behavior to increase trust in all your relationships. Like a ripple in the pond, The Speed of Trust begins within each of us personally, continues into our relationships, expands into our organizations, and ultimately encompasses our global society.

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About the Author:

Stephen M. R. Covey is cofounder and CEO of CoveyLink Worldwide. A sought-after and compelling keynote speaker, author, and advisor on trust, leadership, ethics, and high performance, Covey speaks to audiences around the world. A Harvard MBA, he is the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which under his stewardship became the largest leadership development company in the world. Covey resides with his wife and children in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From Nothing is as Fast as the Speed of Trust

Speed happens when people . . . truly trust each other.


If you're not fast, you're dead.


I'll never forget an experience I had several years ago when I worked for a short stint with a major investment banking firm in New York City. We had just come out of a very exhausting meeting, during which it had become evident that there were serious internal trust issues. These issues were slowing things down and negatively affecting execution. The senior leader said to me privately, "These meetings are dysfunctional and a waste of time. I just don't trust 'Mike.' I don't trust 'Ellen.' In fact, I find it hard to trust anyone in this group."

I said, "Well, why don't you work on increasing trust?"

He turned to me and replied seriously, "Look, Stephen, you need to understand something. Either you have trust or you don't. We don't have it, and there's nothing we can do about it."

I strongly disagree. In fact, both my personal life and my work as a business practitioner over the past 20 years have convinced me that there is a lot we can do about it. We can increase trust -- much faster than we might think -- and doing so will have a huge impact, both in the quality of our lives and in the results we're able to achieve.


As I speak to audiences around the world about the Speed of Trust, I repeatedly hear expressions of frustration and discouragement such as these:

I can't stand the politics at work. I feel sabotaged by my peers. It seems like everyone is out for himself and will do anything to get ahead.

I've really been burned in the past. How can I ever trust anyone enough to have a real relationship?

I work in an organization that's bogged down with bureaucracy. It takes forever to get anything done. I have to get authorization to buy a pencil!

The older my children get, the less they listen to me. What can I do?

I feel like my contributions at work are hardly ever recognized or valued.

I foolishly violated the trust of someone who was supremely important to me. If I could hit "rewind" and make the decision differently, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I can't. Will I ever be able to rebuild the relationship?

I have to walk on eggshells at work. If I say what I really think, I'll get fired . . . or at least made irrelevant.

My boss micromanages me and everyone else at work. He treats us all like we can't be trusted.

With all the scandals, corruption, and ethical violations in our society today, I feel like someone has pulled the rug out from under me. I don't know what -- or who -- to trust anymore.

So what do you do if you're in a situation like one of these -- or in any situation where a lack of trust creates politics and bureaucracy, or simply slows things down? Do you merely accept this as the cost of doing business? Or can you do something to counteract or even reverse it?

I affirm that you can do something about it. In fact, by learning how to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust, you can positively and significantly alter the trajectory of this and every future moment of your life.


So what is trust? Rather than giving a complex definition, I prefer to use the words of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. He said, "[Y]ou know it when you feel it."

Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust -- distrust -- is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them -- in their integrity and in their abilities. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them -- of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. It's that simple. We have all had experiences that validate the difference between relationships that are built on trust and those that are not. These experiences clearly tell us the difference is not small; it is dramatic.

Take a minute right now and think of a person with whom you have a high trust relationship -- perhaps a boss, coworker, customer, spouse, parent, sibling, child, or friend. Describe this relationship. What's it like? How does it feel? How well do you communicate? How quickly can you get things done? How much do you enjoy this relationship?

Now think of a person with whom you have a low-trust relationship. Again, this person could be anyone at work or at home. Describe this relationship. What's it like? How does it feel? How is the communication? Does it flow quickly and freely . . . or do you feel like you're constantly walking on land mines and being misunderstood? Do you work together to get things done quickly . . . or does it take a disproportionate amount of time and energy to finally reach agreement and execution? Do you enjoy this relationship . . . or do you find it tedious, cumbersome, and draining?

The difference between a high- and low-trust relationship is palpable! Take communication. In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they'll still misinterpret you.

Can you even begin to imagine the difference it would make if you were able to increase the amount of trust in the important personal and professional relationships in your life?


One of the most formative experiences I've had personally in increasing trust occurred several years ago as a result of the merger between Franklin Quest and Covey Leadership Center to form FranklinCovey Company. As anyone who has ever been through a merger or an acquisition will know, these things are never easy. The merged company had terrific strengths. We had great people, superb content, loyal clients, and productive tools. But the blending of the two cultures was proving to be enormously challenging.

As president of the Training and Education business unit, I had traveled to Washington, D.C., to address about a third of our consultants on the topic of our division's strategy. But a meeting that should have had me looking forward with anticipation literally had my stomach churning.

Several weeks before, the company's new CEO -- frustrated (as we all were) with the enormous problems and friction that had beset what had seemed to be a promising merger -- had scheduled a meeting of all the consultants in the company. In an effort to "get out" everyone's concerns, he had created a format in which we, as leaders, were to listen, but could not respond, to anything anyone wanted to say. The meeting, scheduled to last four hours, turned into a 10-hour "dump" session. With no one allowed to amend, correct, give context, supply missing information, discuss the other side of the issues, or even show the dilemmas involved, only a small percentage of what was said had real contextual accuracy. Most was misinterpreted, manipulated, or twisted, and some of it was flat-out wrong. There were assumptions, suspicions, accusations, frustrations. And, as leaders, we had reluctantly agreed to a format in which we weren't permitted to say a word.

In the end, we'd had over a dozen such meetings. The whole experience had been brutal, and, with my position of leadership, I had taken it all personally. Having had some experience on Wall Street, I knew mergers were usually hard, but I had thought we could do what needed to be done to make this one work.

The problem was that I had assumed far too much. Mistakenly, I had failed to focus on establishing trust with the newly merged company, believing that my reputation and credibility would already be known. But they weren't, and, as a result, half the people trusted me and the other half didn't. And it was pretty much divided right down Covey or Franklin "party" lines. Those from the Covey side who knew me and had worked with me basically saw my decisions as a sincere effort to use objective, external criteria in every decision and to do what was best for the business -- not to try to push a "Covey" agenda . . . in fact, sometimes even bending over backward to avoid it. Those who didn't know me, hadn't worked with me, and didn't trust me interpreted every decision in the exact opposite manner.

In one case, for example, a question had come up concerning the use of the Sundance Resort for one of our leadership development programs. Sundance had been somewhat hard to work with, and some felt we should move the program to another venue. The program director strongly wanted to keep it at Sundance because clients loved the location, and the financial data showed that we were averaging nearly 40 percent more revenue per program held there compared to other venues. I said, "Because the economics are better and the program director strongly recommends that we keep it there, we'll find better ways to work with Sundance." That was an example of a solid business decision I assumed people would understand.

But those who didn't trust me didn't understand. They thought I was trying to push a "Covey" approach. Some even wondered if I was getting some kind of kickback because, as a community leader, I had been asked to serve in an unpaid role on the advisory board for the Sundance Children's Theater. Many suspected my motive. Because there was such low trust, the feeling was, "There's got to be some kind of hidden agenda going on here."

In another situation, I had made the decision to move "Ron," an extremely talented leader who had come from the Covey side into a different position because, like many of us, he had gotten caught in merger politics and had polarized the two camps. I had decided to go outside the organization for Ron's replacement so that there would be no perception that the new manager was a "Covey" person or a "Franklin" person.

When I made this announcement, I thought people would be excited by my attempt to bring in new talent. But among those who didn't trust me, no one even heard the part about bringing ...

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