The SPEED of Trust: How A Culture of Trust Can Take Your Business to the Next Level
There’s a story Stephen M.R. Covey likes to tell when he speaks in front of audiences.
It’s the story of 3M — a BSCAI member and partner — and its “15% rule.” It was the brainchild of former 3M General Manager William McKnight, who believed in listening to anyone with an idea. He allowed employees to spend 15% of their work time on experimental projects. When McKnight retired in 1966, the company’s sales grew by 17.1%, making the company a billion-dollar company. It was also from this that the famous Post-it was born.
It’s a prime example of how trust can move a business forward. Covey, who was the keynote speaker at BSCAI’s 2019 Contracting Success Conference in Las Vegas, Nov. 20-22, is a best-selling author who believes building stronger networks of trust within interpersonal and professional relationships can make you more successful, more efficient and more creative.
“It’s an extension of trust in their people that they will be innovative,” Covey said. “And its trust the employees will work on behalf of the company and the clients. People respond to that. That shows you the power of extending trust and being trusted.”
Where does trust come from? Covey says its confidence, character and competence. When we meet people with these characteristics — and exhibit them ourselves — it makes people more at ease. When there is that comfortability and mutual respect, Covey says a “smart trust” is created.
“I’m not blindly talking about trusting everyone — that’s a blind trust,” he said. “I’m talking about a smart trust. One that’s saying, ‘I’m always looking at the situation, the risk involved and the credibility of the people involved.’ Smart trust has clear expectations, agreed upon processes for accountability, but the basis as a leader is to find the appropriate ways I can extend trust because of what it does to people. To be trusted is the most inspiring form of human motivation.”
What does that look like from a practical standpoint? According to Covey’s method, there are five waves of trust: self, relationship, organizational, market and societal. Essentially you start with the trust within yourself, focusing on increasing your credibility and inspiring confidence, and move through relationships you have with other people, your organization, the market you serve and then within society as a whole.
Credibility comes partially from integrity, Covey said. When someone is honest and truthful to their core—meaning they’re doing the right thing when no one is watching—it creates a congruence. To do this, he said people need to start making commitments to themselves and holding themselves accountable.
From there, it’s asking yourself what your intent is. What are your motives in your interactions with people? Do you genuinely care about those around you? What kind of behavior are you putting out into the world, and what is it saying about you? What are your notions about the intent of others? If you enter a situation where you are open and honest about your intentions — and let your guard down for someone to be honest with you — it creates stronger bonds of trust.
“If you’re transparent, you’re being vulnerable and the act of doing that creates trust,” Covey said. “Even sometimes with customers, we go through this negotiation and everyone is holding cards close to their chest. Declare your intent and get the why. Work with each other on a starting point by assuming positive intent. If you got really good at those things, can you imagine how that would help you grow trust?
Building a good, trusting relationship isn’t just about being honest, though. If you can’t back up what you say with actions, Covey said it’s all a moot point. Those looking to be better leaders need to understand their strength, weaknesses, skills and management style to understand where they can grow. And they also need to apply those in areas of performance.
If someone is a boss, but doesn’t have the correct knowledge of an important process and has a proven track record of underperforming, will that person garner respect?
“One of the reasons you’re here at the BSCAI conference is to get better,” Covey told the audience. “I love the designation of the CBSE: That’s saying we’ve got the capabilities, we’re current, we’re relevant, and we’re learning. When you go into a customer and say ‘let’s renew this contract,’ they look at how well you’ve done. And when you have a track record, you’re going to have more trust. You have to deliver.”
Covey said a little trust goes a long way. Giving and receiving trust — no matter what level of leadership you’re at — can make people feel valued and leave room for innovation that otherwise might’ve never happened. He said trust starts within yourself, and using strategies to create better bonds with yourself and those around you can impact you in so many positive ways.
“Nothing is as profitable as making these economics of trust work for you,” Covey said. “You have to lead change if you want to build high performing teams.”