WHAT is it like to work with a person who you trust? How is it like to communicate with this person? How fast can you get things done? What kind of results are you able to achieve together?
These were among the first questions asked by leadership guru Stephen M.R. Covey when he conducted a workshop last week for business professionals. He then told the attendees to ask the same questions when working with a person they do not trust.
The simple exercise led to identifying the difference between working in an environment of trust and distrust.
Mr. Covey was working around what he called “three big ideas”: that trust is an economic driver and not merely a social virtue; that there is a high cost to low trust; and that trust is the number one competency of leadership today.
“There’s a business case for trust. There’s a leadership case for trust,” he said. “We can get good at building trust on purpose.”
In the workplace, he said there is an economics of trust. It can be quantified. When trust goes down in a team or in a company, the speed of getting things done goes down with it. And the cost will go up because more steps are taken to complete a task.
These costs come in the form of redundancy, bureaucracy, politics, disengagement, turnover, among others.
However, when there is trust in an organization, the speed of getting things done will go up, and in turn, costs will come down.
“Speed happens when people trust each other,” he said, as he enumerated the number of dividends, including increased stakeholder value.
Mr. Covey divided the workshop into two main parts. In the first part, he talked about the business and leadership case for trust, and why there is a need to talk about trust today.
“It’s critical that we make new connections to what trust can help us do,” he said.
In the second part, he gave what he called “practical, tangible, actionable” moves that a leader can do to grow trust on purpose — for him or her, for the team and for the organization.
Mr. Covey, who is chief executive of the Covey Leadership Center, defines trust to simply mean confidence. The opposite — distrust — is suspicion on another person’s agenda, integrity, ability to deliver, to perform, to come through and get the job done. He said confidence comes from both knowing the character and the competence of the other person.
He classified trust as “smart” trust or having good judgment. The extreme is blind trust or naive trust, which is characterized by a person who indiscriminately trusts everyone “without expectations, without accountability, without assessment of the situation.”
The other extreme is distrust or suspicion, characterized by someone who hardly trusts anyone, possibly after being disappointed by a trusted colleague.
In the second part of the workshop, Mr. Covey used a set of cards that the attendees can use to develop “the four cores of credibility.” He identified five waves of trust, starting from within: self trust, relationship trust, organizational trust, market trust and societal trust.
“As trust is manifest in each successive wave, the effect of trust becomes cumulative and exponential,” he said to summarize those waves.
Mr. Covey is the author of the book “The Speed of Trust.” His “Leading with Trust” workshop was arranged by ABS-CBN News Channel and held on June 19 at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City. — Victor V. Saulon