speed of trust

Steven M.R. Covey who is the son of the more famous Steven R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  The younger Covey is an expert in his own right in the area of leadership. The Speed of Trust:The One Thing That Changes Everything, Covey conveys that in the global marketplace now and in the future “speed to market is now the ultimate competitive weapon” (forward xxv). He notes that a high level of trust reduces friction between buyer and seller, thus accelerating speed in which transactions can and do take place. His definition of trust equating to confidence and low trust equaling suspicion, demonstrates how this translates into the speed in which we can do business.

What is Trust and Why is it Important?

The first section of the text is devoted to an understanding of what trust really is composed of, where he makes the case that trust is actually more than ethics, and that credibility is the basis of trust.  Credibility is built on 4 pillars.

  • Integrity: Do your actions match your words?
  • Intent: What is it you are looking for, what is your agenda?
  • Capabilities: Do you have what it takes in order to deliver?
  • Results: Do you have a history or delivering what you said you would?

In the second section, Covey details what he described as the 13 behaviors. These behaviors can be used to build or destroy trust and include:

Talk Straight; Demonstrate Respect; Create Transparency; Right Wrongs; Show Loyalty; Deliver Results; Get Better; Confront Reality; Clarify Expectations; Practice Accountability; Listen First; Keep Commitments; and Extend Trust.

It is difficult to argue with any of these concepts, however some seem a bit redundant, while others may not be as necessary in order to establish trust in the first place. I suggest that they may not even be in the proper order or slightly off.

Comparing 13 Behaviors to the Circle of Trust

For instance, in the Circle of Trust, I have established as the basis for my own work, we start with Respect, which Covey has listed as Behavior #2, and maybe even Behavior #13. The second principle in our Circle of Trust, actually comes from the elder Covey, Listen to Understand. This does not show up in this work until Behavior #11. Our third principle, Share from Experience, differs significantly from Mr. Covey and his Behavior #1: Talk Straight. We both agree that Behavior #6: Deliver Results is important and in our language, we define that concept as Deliver on the Promise.

Stakeholder Trust

Covey devotes an entire section on the importance of and the process to develop trust with all key stakeholders. Organizational trust, that within your own company or organization, up and down the corporate ladder. This includes the alignment of your values and the mission of the organization to your personal mission.

Market trust, which he defines as the reputation you have built within the next circle, including your customers, and vendors. Your logo will incite trust or distrust based on how you cultivate your brand.

A hidden “tax” is paid by companies with low trust.  He makes a case for the social enterprise concept with the trust that can be and should be developed within the community, or within society in general.  This is demonstrated with the concept of contribution. Trust can be determined by what you contribute back to your community or society, as well as the motives behind those contributions.

Smart Trust

The final section of the book defines what Covey calls “Smart Trust” He demonstrates this with a bell curve chart showing three sections on the left is Distrust which has underlining suspicion and on the far end of the curve is Blind Trust which he labels gullibility. The sweet spot in the middle or Smart Trust places a heavy burden on judgement. Your judgment of others and their behavior.


My overall impression would be that I enjoyed reading The Speed of Trust. Mr. Covey told several real life and business stories to make his points come to life. I felt the section on the 13 Behaviors was a bit of overkill. But I would recommend this book to anybody who would like to know more about the relationship between trust and relationships.

Leave a Comment