The Speed of Trust Seminar with Stephen M. R. Covey

Hey, this is a note on a seminar that I attended 4 years ago in Jakarta. Check this out!

Efi n Covey
Efi n Covey

It was around 7.30 in the morning on May 19th , 2010. I’d finally found the room at the 4th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Jakarta, Pacific Place: Ballroom 3. I took the front row of the regular seat. There were only some people on the VIP seat, that’s too bad. I felt I was lucky to have my seat in the first row as many more people entered the ballroom shortly afterwards and raced for the regular seats. Leaving my purse on my seat, my eyes travelled over the room to see whether there were someone I knew. Negative. And I moved out to the restroom to wash my hands. Upon leaving the restroom, I saw a tall man near the master control, in a red batik shirt, was looking at his wristwatch. I wasn’t so sure that he’s the main speaker of the seminar, but I kept on walking towards and smiling to him, saying “G’morning. Mr. Covey. I’m Efi from the Ministry of Finance”. Surprisingly he smiled back and gave me a warm handshake, “Hi, Eefe, call me Stephen. We’re starting soon, you know. Where d’you sit?” I instantly replied “In that regular seat, Steve. Mind if I talk to you over the coffe break?” Well, I didn’t want to loose the chance to talk to a famous author in that occassion. “Not at all, “he replied. “Feel free to ask me anything, I’d be honored to share my views with you. See you later, Eefe.”

Hello readers! The point of this article is just to share what I’ve got from joining Stephen M.R. Covey seminar, held by Dunamis Organization few months ago. If you don’t know the name Stephen M.R. Covey, he is a sought-after speaker and advisor on trust, leadership, ethics, and high performance. He is also a cofounder and CEO of CoveyLink Worldwide, and the author of The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything, an eye-opening book which challenges age-old assumptions about trust.
The seminar was divided into two sessions, each with some interactive discussion with the participants. The core is about TRUST, which Covey said it’s the one thing that changes everything. In the first session, Covey explained what he meant by his slogan “Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust”. As he noted, the number one job of any leader, business or organization, even individuals, is to inspire trust to anybody. People want to be trusted. Once someone gains a trust, it will be the most powerful forms of motivation and inspiration for him. In addition, trust always affects two outcomes: speed and cost. So, it can be a kind of a performance accelerator: when trust is low, speed goes down and cost goes up. On the other hand, when trust is high, speed goes up and cost goes down. He illustarted that point by showing us a video of a hotdog seller who can double his profit by trusting his customers to make their own change while he’s focusing on serving their orders.

The next thing Covey elaborated is that trust is a function of both character and competence. Most of us tend to think about trust in terms of character of being a good or sincere person or of having ethics or integrity, and character is absolutely foundational and essential. To think that trust is based on character only is a myth. Trust is a function of both character and competence. Character includes our integrity, motive, and intent, while competence includes our capabilities, skills, results, and track record. Both are vital in building trust.

Then, Covey moved on by identifying five waves of trust, they are: self trust, relationship trust, organizational trust, market trust, and societal trust.

The First Wave-Self Trust (Credibility)
Covey mentioned the Four Cores of Credibility, since trust itself is about credibility. Leaders or managers need to be able to inspire trust and confidence in others. Covey related his exlanation to all participants, by using the word “we” to address the topic, or even “you”, as we are all the leaders in ourselves. He further elaborated that credibility boils down into four issues: our integrity, our intent, our capabilities, and our results.

Core number 1: Integrity (Are we congruent?)
Integrity includes honesty (telling the truth and leaving the right impression), congruence (walking our talk), humility, and the courage to do what is right. In addition, the most massive violations of trust are violations of integrity. Therefore, we need to increase our integrity by:
1. Make and keep commitments to ourselves
2. Stand for something
3. Be open
Core number 2: Intent (What’s our agenda?)
Intent is about motive, agenda, and behavior. Motive itself is our reason for doing something. The motive that inspires the greatest trust is genuine caring.
Agenda grows out of motive. It’s what we intend to do or promote because of our motive. The agenda that generally inspires the greatest trust is seeking mutual benefit, we want others to win.
Behavior is the manifestation of motive and agenda. The behavior that best creates credibility and inspires trust is acting in the best interest of others. When we believe people truly are acting in our best interest, we tend to trust them.
Finally, the ways to improve intent are:
1. Examine and refine our motives
2. Declare our intent: this “signals your behavior”, it lets people know what to look for so that they can recognize, understand, and acknowledge it when they see it
3. Choose abundance (win-win)
Core number 3: Capabilities (Are we relevant?)
Capabilities are the talents, skills, knowledge, capacities, and abilities we have that enable us to perform with excellence. One way to accelerate the rate of learning, both individually and organizationally, is to learn with the intent to teach others what we learn , since we learn most when we teach.
The ways to increase our capabilities are:
1. Run with our strengths (and with our purpose): identify our strengths and then focus on engaging, developing, and leveraging what’s distinctly ours.
2. Keep ourselves relevant: engage in lifelong learning
3. Know where we’re going: at the end of the day, people follow those who know where they’re going.
Core number 4: Results (What’s our track record?)
Covey mentioned the ways to improve our results:
1. Take responsibility for results (focus on results, not activities)
2. Expect to win: we tend to get what we expect, both from ourselves and from others. When we expect more, we tend to get more; when we expect less, we tend to get less.
3. Finish strong: results are all about finishing strong.

The Second Wave-Relationship Trust (Consistent Behavior)
The second wave and the other three waves are explained in the second session after the coffee break. (I will share what I discussed with Covey during the break in the final part of this article. ^_^). Covey stated that for the most part, the difference between those who change behavior and those who don’t is a compelling sense of purpose. So, we must make a sincere effort to understand what makes a deposit or withdrawal to another person and always try to act in ways that build trust. He mentioned 13 behaviors that we must possess consistently. The first five behaviors flow initially from character, the second five from competence, and the last three from an almost equal mix of character and competence. In addition, he stated that generally the quickest way to decrease trust is to violate a behavior of character, while the quickest way to increase trust is to demonstrate a behavior of competence. Furthermore, if we behave in ways that build trust with one, we build trust with many, as he puts it: news spreads.

Here are the 13 behaviors and some elaboration of each:
Behavior No.1: Talk Straight
We must be honest: tell the truth and let people know where we stand. Use simple language and call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity: don’t manipulate people or distort facts, don’t spin the truth, and don’t leave false impressions.
Behavior No.2: Demonstrate Respect
– Treat everyone with respect. Show kindness in the little things. Behave in ways that demonstrate caring and concern. A good leader takes nothing for granted and recognizes the contributions made by everyone on the team.
– Think about specific things we can do to show others we care about them: call people, write thank you notes, give acknowledgement, send e-mails of concern, etc. The least is try to do something each day to put a smile on someone else’ face.
– Never take existing relationships for granted, particularly relationships with loved ones, family, and friends.
Behavior No.3: Create Transparency
Transparency is about being open, real, and genuine and telling the truth in a way that people can verify. Therefore, disclose relationships, interests, and conflicts ahead of time so that everything is always out in the open.
Behavior No.4: Right Wrongs
Make things right when we’re wrong: apologize quickly, make restitution where possible, practice service recoveries, demonstrate personal humility. But be careful not to try to cover things up.
Behavior No.5: Show Loyalty
Give credit to others and speak about people as though they were present. Go out of our way to give credit freely. Make it a rule to never talk about family members in negative ways.
Behavior No.6: Deliver Results
– Clarify “results” up front. Make sure we thoroughly understand the expectation.
– Before we make a commitment, make sure it’s realistic. To overpromise and “under-deliver” will make a withdrawal every time.
– Try to anticipate needs in advance and deliver before the requests even come.
– Establish a track record of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen. Don’t overpromise and under-deliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.
Behavior No.7: Get Better
– In seeking to get better, there are two strategies that are particularly helpful in maximizing our effort: seek feedback and learn from mistakes.
– Continuously improve. We need to increase our capabilities and become a constant learner. That means we have to develop feedback systems, both formal and informal, and act on the feedback we receive.
Behavior No.8: Confront Reality
Confronting reality is about taking the tough issues head on. It’s about sharing the bad news as well as the good, naming the “elephant in the room,” addressing the “sacred cows,” and discussing the “undiscussables.” More importantly is try to address the tough stuff directly, acknowledge the unsaid, and lead out courageously in conversation.
Behavior No.9: Clarify Expectations
– Create shared vision and agreement about what is to be done up front. In every interaction, there are expectations. So, beware of the explicitly or implicitly expressed expectations.
– Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them and renegotiate them if needed and possible. Don’t assume expectations are clear or shared.
– Check for clarity by asking a few simple questions, for example:
• What have you understood from this conversation?
• As a result of our interaction, what do you see as your next steps? What do you see as mine?
• Do you feel that others are clear regarding expectations?
• What can we do to make things clearer?
Behavior No.10: Practice Accountability
There are two key dimensions to practicing accountability:
1. Hold yourself accountable
• When people hold themselves accountable, it encourages others to do the same.
2. Hold others accountable
• People respond to accountability-particularly the performers. They want to be held accountable.
So, hold yourself accountable and hold others accountable, take responsibility for results, and be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing and how others are doing.
Behavior No.11: Listen First
Listen before you speak, understand and diagnose it. Listen with your ears, your eyes and heart. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others. Don’t presume you have all the answers, or all the questions
Behavior No.12: Keep Commitments
Keeping commitments is the quickest way to build trust in any relationship. Therefore, make commitments carefully and then keep them, and don’t break confidences.
Behavior No.13: Extend Trust
Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend conditionally to those who are earning your trust.

The Third Wave-Organizational Trust (Alignment)
The main principle of establishing organizational trust is alignment, ensuring that all structures and systems within the organization are in harmony with the cores and the behaviors. To increase organizational integrity, we need to work on creating a culture of making and keeping commitments within the organization. To improve organizational intent, we must ensure that our mission and values reflect motives and principles that build trust. To increase organizational capabilities, we take steps to ensure that structures and systems in our organization are designed to attract and retain the talent we need to be competitive. To improve organizational results, we must help people create a shared vision concerning desired results through a system that includes cascading goals and getting everyone on the same page. In addition, we can create a culture in which people have the opportunity to account for results—not activities—on a regular basis.
One more important point about third wave is if an organization has low trust, there will be organizational taxes, such as redundancy, bureaucracy, politics, disengagement, turnover, churn among customers, and fraud.

The Fourth Wave-Market Trust (Reputation)
Covey didn’t elaborated too much on this fourth wave, but he emphazised this wave is focused on building the four cores of credibility and practicing the thirteen behaviors with external constituents.

The Fifth Wave-Societal Trust (Contribution)
In this fifth wave, Covey mentioned that contribution is the intent to create value instead of destroy it, to give back instead of take. Again, no elaborate examples he gave to us, as the time was almost 1 p.m and the seminar must end up soon.

Besides the five waves of trust, Covey also mentioned about restoring trust when it has been lost. Losing trust is dangerous, and it might happen to anybody. Though it may be difficult, in most cases, a lost trust can be restored, and often even enhanced. The path to restoration is to increase our personal credibility and behave in ways that inspire trust. Generally speaking, a loss of trust created by a violation of character (integrity or intent) is far more difficult to restore than a loss of trust created by a violation of competence (capabilities or results). Covey mentioned the example of Johnson and Johnson’s Tylenol case in 1982, which shows that the company was very concern about customers safety than the risk of loosing $100 billions of withdrawn products. The company since then restore and even win public trust.

So, here comes the biggie: what we should do when others have lost our trust? It’s a good question from a CEO of Panin Bank.
First of all, as Covey mentioned, do not be too quick to judge. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t automatically assume that a failure of competence is a failure of character, because many mistakes are not intentional. Secondly, do be quick to forgive –whether or not we choose to trust in the future—we always need to forgive.

What I feel about Covey’s explanation is that it’s based on a thorough contemplation and very long experience in his working career. He can inspire the audience of the seminar that trust is the one thing that changes everything. Yes, I agree with his notion that whatever our situation is, we need to become good at establishing, extending, and restoring trust not as a manipulative technique, but as the most effective way of relating to others and the most effective way of achieving our results.

Now let me end up this article by sharing what I discussed with Covey during the coffee break. There were only me, an administration manager from the Harbison-Walker Refractories and the director of Dhamavitaniaga Consulting who interviewed Covey, while other participants were busy with their coffe and tea. I explained Covey that I’m a trainer of MOF and also a lecturer, and I said to him that I cannot give my trust to my students during exam. He laughed and said “Gotta extend a smart trust, young lady. I said before in the first session that we cannot do a blind trust, right?” “Could you please elaborate that a little, Stephen?” I quickly asked further. Well, I must keep him talking, musn’t I?
“Well,” he continued,”extending smart trust involves good people judgment, I mean with a high propensity to trust, and good judgment for doing the analysis. I will trust a surgeon to perform an operation to my wife since I can’t do an operation myself. Here I trust my wife to someone who is eligible to perform a surgery, coz I have considered the risk if something is not taken about my wife’s health. Like your stances, Eefe, you can analyze like ‘What is the opportunity?’ ‘What is the risk involved?’ and ‘What is the credibility, character or competence, of the people involved, in this case, your students?’ Sure thing you will not let a blind trust to your students, because you know you’ve gotta give a fair evaluation to all of them; that’s why you set your own rules related to your examination, not because you don’t trust them but rather you want to do a smart trust. So, you’ve gotta explain clearly your rules and expectations to them in their exam.” What a quick yet detailed response he gave. I thanked him for his explanation, and I made him signed his book for me (luckily I had The Speed of Trust book from the event organizer with me). Two officers from Bank Mandiri approached him to ask for his autograph, too, and I gave them the chance to do so. “Thank you for your time, Stephen. I’d better get some coffee now before you continue your session. So…good luck, Stephen. Come again to visit our country, OK?” I said. He smiled, “Thanks, Eefe, I would love, too. And don’t forget to read my book.”

Covey's book
Covey’s book

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