Entreleadership Podcast – “Smart trust”

Stephen M.R. Covey illuminates the hidden power of trust to change livessteve coley-page-001

and impacts organizations in his book Smart Trust published in 2012.

Kristie Wright interviews Stephen to get into the content of the book.

Covey is the son of Stephen R. Covey, well-known leadership author of

“The 7 habits of Highly Effective People” and served as CEO of the Covey

Leadership Center


Why is it important to develop trust?

TRUST is like the air we breathe. When it’s present nobody really notices. But when it’s absent, everybody notices.” Warren Buffett

Nowadays, we are facing a crisis of trust, in the government, in society. Managers have to build a culture of trust in their agencies to help produce better results with tighter budgets.

In a low-trust environment, speed goes down and costs go up but the converse in high-trust cultures is equally true. When the trust goes up, the speed goes up and costs come down. Employee’s ability to collaborate goes up, as does leader’s ability to attract, retain and engage people. When the trust goes up, employees share information, they are not afraid to make mistakes. They work in an environment more creative with higher accountability and greater energy and satisfaction.


How we recognize trust

Fish are the very last to discover water

Trust is so much part of our life that people are not aware about it. There are trust issues everywhere but it takes time to realize it. Trust is a strong motivator, we are in it everyday and that makes it is so difficult to identify.

When people feel trusted, they are more involved, engaged, and they collaborate more. It is hard for people to do so if they don’t feel they are trusted. Trust also naturally brings innovation in your environment. To be trusted is the most inspiring thing and it raises motivation of people.


What can managers do to build trust?

If you want to be trusted, you’ll need to extend trust, because trust is reciprocal. One reason why, in many agencies and organizations today, employees don’t trust their management is simply because the management doesn’t trust the employees, and the employees reciprocate that distrust. Leaders ought to take the first step to extend trust to their employees.

Leaders have to declare their intent, let people know they would like to create trust and why. Then, they should signal their behavior to clear their intent and give the “why” with the “what” to the people. Leaders have to respect their integrity by simply doing the things they said they would do. Employees are looking for leader’s behavior.

Believe in the best of people and they will feel it, if you assume the worst, people will become defensive.


How trust can help to shape the culture of an organization?

From managers to employees, trust is contagious in either direction and so is distrust.

Communication has to be easy and fluid. As a manager you should declare your ideas and intents, to prevent people around to have negative feelings. Don’t let the people guess, explain to them.

In low-trust environment, you would see lack of commitment and disengagement. You would also see people manipulating, distorting facts and withholding information. You would also see resistance to new ideas, bad-mouthing, tension and fear.

Your responsibility as a leader is to create a virtuous circle of trust in the organization. Choose to believe in trust as a philosophy and people will protect it. As a team, people won’t let anything change their culture and they will protect the trust you have offered them. People will become participant. It helps building a culture: what people think and say about their organization. Culture is shaped by the true values of an organization, not by the lines of working contracts.

As an example, Tony Hsieh C.E.O. of Zappos, a very successful business that sells shoes online. He decided to choose Trust as a philosophy. He offers free shipping in both ways for his customers to try and buy its shoes. Very few people abused it and asked for too many shoes to try. Tony involved his customers in its business and that made him successful.

Trust is valuable both for yourself and your entire organization. It applies to your professional and personal life. Negative feedback can break the trust. For example, if your husband wants to bring in a problem in your relationship and you over-react, this will break the trust. Your husband will not feel able to communicate and he will not try to bring in more problems to solve in your relationship.


What about people violating the trust you’ve offered them?

There is a risk in trusting the people and there is a risk in not trusting the people as people are teammates. There are two types of trust: Blind trust and Smart trust.

Blind trust is when you trust everyone regardless of the circumstances and the risks. At a time, you will get burnt; people will take advantage of you.

Concerning Smart trust, you should start with a high preference to trust the others but also balance that with high analysis between your heart and your head. Ask yourself the good questions: What are the risks involved? How credible are the people I want to trust? This will help you to find a balance between the risks involved and the amount of trust.

As an example, in a nuclear submarine, there is a strict protocol to go to the restrooms. That does not mean the employees are not trusted. Even the employees have to follow the protocol because the risks involved are very high in a nuclear submarine.

As another example, the owner of a coffee shop decided to let a bowl of money so that the customers make change on their own. In this case the risks involved are lower, that’s why the owner offers his trust to the customer. By acting this way, customers feel the trust positively and they come back more often and pay higher tips.


“You can’t talk yourself out of a problem that you behaved yourself into.”Dr. Stephen R. Covey

If you made a mistake, say it honestly to your boss and do not fear about it as long as you behave your way back into trust. Make it right when you are wrong. We can all potentially make mistakes. Too often, people focus only on delivering results, but how we get there will determine whether we sustain trust.

You are always teaching people through your actions around you through your behavior. Inner trust starts with each of us, in the choices we make.

Let us become the change that we seek in this world – Ghandi

Let us create the trust, we can extend it smartly and transform managers into leaders.


For more information about Steven M.R. Coney and its book visit the website: http://www.myspeedoftrust.com


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