The Speed of Trust; The One thing That Changes Everything, summary

The Speed of Trust; The one thing that changes everything was written by Stephen M.R. Covey.  He is the son of Stephen R. Covey the author of the monster successful book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Check out Mr. Covey here .

In the Speed of Trust Mr. Covey the younger makes the point and outlines a solid game plan based on his own experiences and the experiences he has seen over and over throughout his years in leadership and working with companies.

The book starts off with what Mr. Covey calls the economics of trust.  He uses this formula to make the point.

  • Trust is low =  Speed goes down and Cost goes up
  • Trust is high = Speed goes up and Cost goes down

Think about the above formulas for a minute.  Think about in your current work environment, or maybe in an organization you are in, or your relationship with a boss.  When the trust is low, things you are trying to accomplish get slowed down, and in turn costs go up.  However, when trust is high, you can see that things speed up, which in turn costs go down.

The author equates trust to paying taxes.  As a tax payer we know that we must pay a certain amount of money to the IRS each year for taxes.  But when it comes to trust, or lack of trust, we are paying a tax and may not even be aware of it.  The taxes you pay in an organization can be hidden.  Think about a project you would like to implement and it is not moving fast enough, you may be paying a tax because for whatever reason there isn’t any trust established with you and the parties involved in getting the project done.  I have seen this scenario over and over in business.

The other equation the author offers is this: Strategy times Execution = Results.  But then he goes on to say this.  (Strategy times Execution)Trust = Results.  Trust is a multiplier.  You can have a good strategy and a great execution plan, but if you dont have trust the project can get derailed.  Trust is the great multiplier.  Trust is the key ingredient for all relationships.

  • Trust is one of the most powerful forms of motivation and inspiration.  People want to be trusted.
  • Who do you trust?  A work colleague. a friend? Your spouse, Your boss?  Who trusts you?
  • Trust is a function of two things: Character and Competence.
  • Also people trust people who can get things done.
  • Leadership theory deals with what a leader is (character) and what a leader does is (competence)

The author breaks down trust in the book this way.  There are five levels.  Self trust, Relationship Trust, Organizational Trust, Market trust, and Societal Trust. 

Self Trust: 

  • The first level is Self Trust and deals with the confidence we have in ourselves, in our ability to set and achieve goals, to keep commitments, to walk our talk, and also with our ability to inspire trust in others. The whole idea is to become, both to ourselves and to others, a person who is worthy of trust. In this first wave the author outlines and explores the “4 Cores of Credibility.”  The end result of high character and high competence is credibility, judgment, and influence.

The 4 Cores of Credibility: 

  • Integrity:  To most people integrity means “honesty”.  While integrity includes honesty, its much more.  Its integratedness.  Its walking your talk.  Its being congruent, inside and out.  Its having the courage to act in accordance with your values and beliefs.  Interestingly, most massive violations of trust are violations of integrity.
  • Intent: This has to do with our motives, our agendas, and our resulting behavior. Trust grows when our motives our straightforward and based on mutual benefit, in others words, when we genuinely care not only for ourselves, but also for the people we interact with, lead, or serve.  When we suspect a hidden agenda from someone or we don’t believe they are citing in our best interests, we are suspicious about everything they say and do. Both integrity and intent are matters of character.
  • Capabilities: Capabilities are the abilities we have that inspire confidence, our talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge, and style.  They are the means we use to produce results.  A family doctor might have integrity and his motives might be good, but unless he’s trained and skilled to perform the task at hand (brain surgery for example) he’ll be lacking in credibility in that area. Capabilities also deal with our ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust.
  • Results: Results refer to our track record, our performance, our getting the right things done.  If we don’t accomplish what we expected to do, it diminishes our credibility.  On the other hand, when we achieve the realists we promised, we establish a positive reputation of performing, or being a producer, and our reputation precedes us. Both capabilities and results are matters of competence.  

Relationship Trust:

  • The second level is Relationship Trust and it is about how to establish and increase the “trust accounts” we have with others. Consistent behavior is critical.  The author outlines 13 key behaviors common to high trust leaders around the world. These 13 behaviors are practitioner based and validated by research.  The 13 behaviors can be learned by anybody.  The goal is to increase our ability to generate trust with all involved in order to enhance relationships and achieve better results.

13 Behaviors:  

  • Talk Straight: Be honest. Tell the truth.  Let people know where they stand.  Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions.
  • Demonstrate Respect: Genuinely care for others. Show you care. Respect the dignity of every person and every role. Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in the little things. Don’t fake caring. Don’t attempt to be efficient with people.
  • Create Transparency: Tell the truth in a way people can verify.  Get real and genuine.  Be open and authentic. Err on the side of disclosure. Operate on the premise “What you see is what you get.” Don’t have hidden agendas.  Don’t hide information.
  • Right Wrongs: Make things right when you’re wrong.  Apologize quickly.  Make restitution where possible.  Practice “service recoveries.” Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing.
  • Show Loyalty: Give credit freely.  Acknowledge the contributions of others. Speak about people as if they were present. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves.  Don’t bad mouth others behind their backs. Don’t disclose others private information.
  • Deliver Results: Establish of track record of results.  Get the right things done. Make things happen.  Accomplish what you’re hired to do. Be on time and within budget. Don’t over promise and under deliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.
  • Get Better: Continuously improve.  Increase your capabilities. Be a constant learner. Develop feedback systems, both formal an informal.  Act on the feedback you receive. Thank people for feedback.  Don’t consider yourself above feedback. Don’t assume todays knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrows challenges.
  • Confront Reality: Takes issues head on, even the “undiscussables.”  Address the tough stuff directly.  Acknowledge the unsaid.  Lead out courageously in conversation.  Remove the :sword from their hands.” Don’t skirt the real issues.  Don’t bury your head in the sand.
  • Clarify Expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations.  Discuss them.  Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible. Don’t violate expectations. Don’t assume that expectations are clear or shared.
  • Practice Accountability:  Hold yourself accountable.  Hold others accountable.  Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing and how others are doing.  Don’t avoid or shirk responsibility. Don’t blame others or point fingers when things go wrong.
  • Listen First: Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears and your eyes and heart. Find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you’re working with. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others. Don’t presume you have all of the answers or all the questions.
  • Keep Commitments: Say what You are going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do.  Make commitments carefully and keep them.  Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences. Don’t attempt to “PR” your way out of a commitment you’ve broken.
  • Extend Trust: Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.  Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, and credibility (character and competence) of the people involved. But have a propensity to trust.  Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.   

Organizational Trust:

  • Organizational trust deals with how leaders can generate trust in all kinds of organizations, including businesses, not for profit organizations, government entities, educational institutions, and families, as well as in teams and other micro units within organizations.  If you’ve ever worked with people you trusted, but in an organization you didn’t, or in a situation where the organizations systems and structures promoted distrust, you will easily recognize the critical nature of the third level of trust. The key principle underlying is alignment, it helps leaders create structures, systems, and symbols of organizational trust that decrease or eliminate seven of the most insidious and costly organizational trust taxes and create seven huge organizational trust dividends.

Market Trust:

  • Market trust is the level at which almost everyone clearly understands the impact of trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is a reputation. It’s about your company brand (your personal brand), which reflects the trust customers, investors, and others in the marketplace have in you. Everyone knows that brands powerfully affect customer behavior and loyalty. When there is a high trust brand, customers buy more, refer more, give the benefit of the doubt, and stay with you longer.  This material will not only help you improve your own brand and reputation as an individual, it will also help you improve your organizations brand and reputation in the marketplace.

Societal trust: 

  • Societal Trust is about creating value for others and for society at large. The principle underlying this wave is contribution. By contributing or giving back we counteract the suspicion, cynicism, and low trust inheritance taxes within our society. We also inspire others to create value and contribute, as well.

Depending on our roles and responsibilities, we may have more or less influence as we move through out each successive level. However, we all have extraordinary influence on the first two levels (Self Trust and Relationship Trust) and this is where we should begin.

My hope is that you can read this book summary and gain a few nuggets.  If you refer back to the formulas at the beginning of this summary.  If you are in sales, how does this question apply to your world?  Do you currently have a sale that has slowed down?  Why?  Have you stablished enough trust yet.  The economics of trust formula applies to business as well as personal relationships and family.

I would encourage you to pick up the book.  I obviously gave you a solid overview about the book, but the book is full of great quotes by great leaders and a lot of great real life examples of where trust was established and where trust wasn’t established and the consequences of both.

Check out for more book summaries.  Also, share this summary with someone who you think can learn from it.

To your success and your future.






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