The Speed of Trust
By Stephen M.R. Covey with Rebecca R. Merrill
Free Press, 2006
[powerpress: http://gsbm-med.pepperdine.edu/gbr/audio/summer2010/Book Corner/Speed.mp3]
Ordinarily I am not a fan of the offspring of famous people writing a book, but Covey has forged his own way in the business world and has written a book that covers the most important thing anyone or any organization can possess— trust. If you don’t have this as a foundation, you have nothing, as many of our “leading” companies and governments have discovered. Lose trust and you can lose all. The good element of the book lies with Covey’s optimism that you can recover trust.
This is not a “feel good” book or a manuscript on morals (although that is covered), but mainly an exploration of the things that make us who we are in others’ eyes, which ultimately helps us look into our own beings. While a lot of this book is about business, it also covers personal relationships. I found myself reflecting on my own as I read through. Covey talks to two main characteristics about people—character and competence. He likens these to a tree with four core characteristics: the roots, which you can’t see, represent integrity; more visible is the trunk—intent—that emerges from the roots; the branches are capability, which you develop over time; and the leaves are results. It is easy to understand these and Covey takes a long time to develop them. While there are many books on each of these subjects, this book puts them together.
The actions that impact trust are covered in the section “Thirteen Behaviors.” These seem pretty basic but, once again, Covey covers them comprehensively and in context. Such behaviors as “Talk Straight,” “Right Wrongs,” and “Practice Accountability” ring true. He cites examples of people who demonstrate these behaviors as well as giving examples of what a bad behavior might look like.
Around these behaviors are what Covey describes as “waves of trust”—meaning the effect of what you do can ripple from a personal to a societal level. So, through some “simple” concepts, Covey weaves a book that can help you assess both yourself and your organization, and offers some concrete how-to’s on becoming the trusted person or organization you want to be.