Stephen M.R. Covey: Leadership & The “Speed Of Trust”

It’s an irrefutable truth that trust is on a serious decline.

And all the key pillars of society are affected. The RAND Corporation recently reported that trust in government, the media – even in our businesses and workplaces – “has reached a lower absolute level than ever before.” And they warned that such a lack of trust inherently undermines the way we operate in the world.

Deep down we all know that trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. And it’s the foundational principle that sustains all relationships.

And we also know that no one can be an effective leader without trust. As leadership legend Warren Bettis put it, “Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.” 

If there’s any good news coming out regarding trust, it’s Pew Research’s finding that 9-in-10 people believe the problem is fixable. Said another way, it’s clear most of us really want to see trust restored.

To that end, podcast guest, Stephen M. R. Covey, is one of the world’s experts on the topic of trust.  A Harvard MBA, he’s the author of The Speed of Trust a New York Times bestseller that has sold over 2 million copies.  And in this discussion, he passionately shares the most effective ways leaders can both establish & sustain trusting relationships, especially with their teams & colleagues.

Covey had an especially interesting upbringing – his father was the author of The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People,” one of the Top 50 best-selling books of all-time. And the conversation begins with Stephen candidly explaining what it took for him to emerge from his father’s shadow, and to find his own place and identity in the world.

As Stephen explains, that journey profoundly influenced his great interest in trust, & to the discovery that trust actually yields a huge upside in business. In his words, “when trust is low in any relationship, it places a hidden “tax” on every transaction. Every communication, every interaction, every strategy, every decision is taxed, bringing speed down & sending costs up. Conversely, when people operate with high trust, they’re rewarded with a “dividend.” And that dividend acts as performance multiplier which accelerates the speed of communications, interactions, & decisions – and consistently yields far greater success.

Recent Gallup research shows that employee engagement is at least twelve times greater when people feel they work for a boss they trust.  Listen in as Stephen rather inspiringly explains how that kind of trust gets built. 


By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.