In The Speed of Trust The One Thing That Changes Everything, Stephen M. R. Covey (2006) shared 13 behavioural strategies to increase trust dividends because your behavior will either increase or decrease your connections. Here’s the very brief descriptions of the 13 key behaviours with my perspective added in. For a more detailed explanation of the behaviours I highly recommend reading or listening to The Speed of Trust.
Why take the time to review these behaviours? There’s lots of theories on how to be a good leader, but there isn’t always specific, tangible examples of how to grow as a leader. Covey’s 13 behaviors offered specific examples that you can practice to become a more trusted leader. I’ve noted the pages in the Speed of Trust that apply to each section, so you can choose to dig into those that matter most to you.
- Talk Straight (p. 127-143)
– Just like it sounds. “Be honest. Tell the truth” (p. 143). Covey (2006) recommended getting to your point as quickly as possible using simple language. “Recognize that in most cases, “less” is “more.” In the legal world vernacular, ‘If you’re explaining you’re losing.'” (p. 142). It’s not always easy and as with most things it will take practice, but do your best to be straightforward in a respectful way.
– In part one of our series on building connections, we referenced the significance of a shared language. Shared language and codes enable people to access and share information with other people. Without a common understanding of the language, communication falters and connections are lost (Daniel, Schwier & McCalla, 2003, p. 6).
- Demonstrate Respect (p. 144-151)
– It shows in your interactions with everyone from your superiors to your cleaning staff. Be genuine and treat others with dignity. Kindness is in the little things. Try to do or say something each day that makes someone else smile (p. 150-151). It’s evident in nonverbal communication, so make sure it shows in a genuine way.
- Create Transparency (p. 152-157)
– It’s a balancing act. Not all that you know needs or should be shared because people have trusted you with that information, but on the other hand does failing to share information make it seem like you have something to hide? Covey (2006) suggested being open and authentic. A what you see is what you get demeanor (p. 157).
- Right Wrongs (p. 158-164)
– Covey asked a simple yet telling question, when you make a mistake how do you respond?
– Do you own it and take responsibility for it and attempt to make it right by apologizing and making restitution?
– Or do you try to rationalize, down play or deny it? (p.160 & 164).Who do you want to be associated with?
We’re not perfect all the time so make a choice to do better next time and behave yourself into the trust dividends rather than paying higher trust taxes (p. 160).
- Show Loyalty (p. 165-171)
– How you talk about other people when they aren’t there says more about you. As Stephen R. Covey said, “To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent” (p. 169).
– Another point that resonated with me is give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge the contributions of your team members, as Robert Townsend said, “A leaders doesn’t need any credit . . . He’s getting more credit than he deserves anyway” (p. 165). Your team, your followers are what is going to make the goal possible. Value what they do and they will do more for you.
- Deliver Results (p. 172 – 176)
– Results build credibility. “It’s how you establish trust…it’s how you gain flexibility and choices . . . it’s how you can restore trust quickly” (p. 174). Show that you can do what you say and your credibility will grow.
– Something I’ve seen happen in both education and business is as Covey explained if you over promise and under deliver you’ll make a withdrawal in the trust account every time (p. 176). It’s so frustrating when people don’t do what they say. I can’t build a business on what you might do. Always under promise and over delivery.
7. Get Better (p. 177-184)
– This was a behaviour that hits close to home for me. As a grad student and new entrepreneur, the last two years of my life have been about getting better. I’m an avid learner. I love learning. It’s energizing. Yet the ongoing challenge is how do you take what you’ve learned and step out of your comfort zone.
How do you actually make a change?
This independent study on leadership has enabled me to study a topic I’ve always found interesting, but the challenge is to create a product that will be of value to someone other than me. And so I’ve struggled with how to share what I’ve learned in a way that won’t overwhelm, yet will make sense others.
– Covey opened this section with one of my all time favourite quotations:
Life is about learning and Covey reminded that continuous improvement builds trust and confidence (p. 178). He also shared John Gardner’s comment, “One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” And to that I would add the reason people stop taking those risks is a double edged sword. For one, it’s easy to stick with what you know. It’s comfortable and, lets be honest, it means I’m less likely to get hurt or fail publicly.
Second, in what climate or culture am I working? If I’m constantly afraid of what might happen to me if I fail, I’m certainly not going to risk doing something different. In fact, as Sinek (2014) and Cloud (2013) reminded us, our brain chemistry is going to take over to ensure our survival. Fear, however, is another blog post.
Covey explained there are two ways to get better at getting better. First, it’s being confident enough to ask for feedback. That’s not always easy and sometimes feedback says more about the person giving it than you; however, listening to it gives you ways to get better. Plus, “what differentiates the best from the good companies is not whether they ask the questions, it’s how they respond to the answers” (p. 181). We all like to be heard, but if nothing every happens…. were you really listening in the first place?
Second, Covey (2006) noted we must learn from our mistakes. First, we have to be brave enough to risk a mistake because without trying we will never get better. He said, we do what’s comfortable because we are afraid to fail or we just want to look good.
Dee Hock, Founder and Former CEO, Visa International said:
“You learn nothing from your successes except to think too much of yourself. It is from failure that all growth comes, provided you can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise above it, and then try again.” p. 182
Here’s something you could try….
Covey (2006) suggested a Continue/Stop/Start feedback system...
- What is one thing we are now doing that you think we should continue doing?
- What is one thing we are now doing that you think we should stop doing?
- What is one thing we are not now doing that you think we should start doing?
How are you getting better?
Curious about the rest of Covey’s Strategies – Check out Part 2.
- Boundaries for Leaders – Dr. Henry Cloud
- Daniel, B. K., McCalla, G., & Schwier, R. A. (2002). A Process Model for Building Social Capital in Virtual Learning Communities. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Computers in Education (Vol. December 0, p. 574). Washington, DC: IEEE Computer Society. Retrieved from http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=839212
- Daniel, B. K., Schwier, R. A., & McCalla, G. (2003). Social capital in virtual learning communities and distributed communities of practice. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 29(3), 113–139. Retrieved from http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/viewArticle/85
- Gradin, Carla
- Leaders Eat Last – Simon Sinek
- Speed of Trust – Stephen M. R. Covey
- Super Better – Jane McGonigal
- Talk Like TED – Carmine Gallo