Books like this are a rare treat; a quick read, full of great observations and immediately actionable tips. With his first book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey, son of the great author and speaker Stephen R .Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) has created a detailed and approachable analysis on the value of trust.
Trust, in its base form is really a reflection of credibility; the more credible you are, the more people will be willing to trust you. In fact, the more credible you are, the faster people will trust you. According to Covey, trust affects two important variables in any relationship – speed and cost. When trust is high, speed goes up, and cost goes down. When trust is low, speed goes down, and costs go up. The scenario used to exemplify this in The Speed of Trust is the US airlines and airport system. Prior to 9/11, suggested arrival times for domestic flights were half an hour prior to departure. Security lines were short and moved quickly. In our post-9/11 world, the suggest arrival time for a domestic flight is an hour and a half, and each ticket comes with a “securities tax”, to cover the extra costs. As trust has gone down, speed has gone down, costs have gone up. You, lacking credibility (in the eyes of US Homeland security, at least) has a very real impact on your bottom line.
So, how do you increase your credibility? In The Speed of Trust, Covey outlines what he calls “The Four Cores of Credibility”. Those cores are:
1. Issues of integrity.
Integrity in its true meaning, ie. “integratedness”. How well do your actions match your values and beliefs? In many other books, this is referred to as “authenticity”.
2. Issues of intent.
What are our motives? Trust grows when our motives are straightforward and to the benefit of all parties involved. People are aware when we genuinely care. When they suspect a hidden agenda or a one-sided objective however, they are suspicious about everything we say or do.
3. Issues of capabilities.
Are we capable of completing the task we are being entrusted with? Our talents, attitudes, skills and style play a key role in credibility.
4. Issues of results.
This is what most people think of when they think of credibility – our track record. Track record and history are important, however they represent only one of the four crucial cores of credibility.
All four cores must be present to generate credibility. If you are missing any of the four, you will lose trust. In The Speed of Trust, Covey outlines thirteen behaviours that, when utilized properly, can increase your credibility. As mentioned, The Speed of Trust is designed with a great layout – each behaviour is related to one or more of the four cores (above), allowing readers to pick and choose which behaviour to work on first, based on their own specific needs. Of the thirteen behaviours however, there was one theme that rang true as being something we can all benefit from remembering:
The Big Idea
Be OK with Making Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes. No exceptions. The question is not whether you will make a mistake (you will), but rather how you’ll respond once it occurs. Whether it’s in a personal, business or community relationship, we need to remember that we are human and that making a mistake is not the end of the world. This is in no way an endorsement for sloppy work or anarchist behaviour. But we at Actionable feel comfortable saying “be OK with making mistakes” to you because chances are, if you’ve invested the time in reading this article and being a part of this community, you’re not the type of person to shirk responsibility or be lazy in your work. (Well done, by the way). But here’s the bottom line – mistakes are inevitable. Spend your time trying to avoid them and you’ll never grow because you’ll never take any chances. Take the chances, but have a game plan for when you fall down.
Behaviour #4: Right Wrongs in the RIGHT way (just that little bit more)
I was in the drive thru line at a Starbucks a week or so ago, and had to wait for roughly 5 minutes while the car in front of me was loaded up with about 15 coffees. It was a beautiful day and one of my favourite bands happened to be on the radio for 3 of those 5 minutes, so I hardly noticed the delay. As I pulled up to the window to collect my Tazo Chai though, the employee at the window apologized for the wait, upsized my drink free of charge and gave me a cool little gift card for a free beverage of my choice. I was so impressed that I have probably told that story to ten people in the last week. Did I care about the five minute delay? Not really. But the Starbucks staff did. Whether I thought I had been wronged or not didn’t matter – the staff at that Starbucks didn’t feel they had given me the “Starbucks Experience”, and they made up for it.
In The Speed of Trust, Covey encourages that “little bit more” in repairing the damage after a mistake is made. It’s an easy thing to do in theory, but sometimes ego can play a role. Did the cashier have to give me any sort of special treatment? Of course not. In fact, had the wait been so bad that I had complained, she could have (justifiably) argued with me that the length of the lineup was beyond her control. Instead of being defensive though, she focused on the credibility of herself and that of the company. This may seem like a trivial example but that’s really part of the point – it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to make someone happy. Admitting you were wrong (even if only by your own standards), and then rectifying that wrong are powerful tools in creating credibility.
Behaviour #7: Get Better
“Kaizen” is a Japanese term that I’ve been coming across more and more often lately in North American society. Loosely translated, it can be defined as “a Japanese philosophy that focuses on continuous improvement throughout all aspects of life”. Here again in The Speed of Trust, we find the concept being encouraged. And it makes sense too, especially in today’s world; if we’re not improving as individuals and as organizations, we’re falling behind the status quo. If you’re wondering how this ties in to credibility, consider this:
“When people see you as a learning, growing, renewing organization (or individual), they develop confidence in your ability to succeed in a rapidly changing environment, enabling you to build high trust relationships and move at incredible speed.”
Speed of Trust
To loosely borrow from Einstein, “The skills that got you to where you are today are not the same skills that are going to take you to where you want to go in the future.” As people, as organizations, we need to continue to grow and adapt, constantly seeking improvement. And here’s the absolute truth – you cannot grow without taking chances, and you cannot take chances without failing from time to time. You need to be OK with failing; you need to be ok with making mistakes. The real mistake is not in failing, but rather in failing to learn from the experience. One of the best ways to accustom yourself to being ok with making mistakes is to actively seek feedback. Take a proactive role in learning from a mistake. Spend time asking questions and facilitating discussions. Seeking feedback will not only help you avoid the same issue in the future, but will also build credibility, as it shows your partner/friend/client/co-worker/etc. that you are dedicated to improvement and genuinely care about the results moving forward. Simple, yet powerful stuff.
Full of examples, tips to embrace and pitfalls to avoid, The Speed of Trust is a great read – focused and detailed, yet light and engaging. Stephen M.R. Covey has done a fine job of following in his father’s well-read footsteps with his first book, and we look forward to seeing many more works to come. In the meantime, we wish you all the best in establishing your own credibility. Just keep in mind – to grow we must risk making mistakes. It’s not a matter of if you will make a mistake moving forward, it’s how you respond to it that counts.