The 13 Behaviors of High Trust Leaders by Stephen M. R. Covey

Relationship trust is all about consistent behavior. People judge us on behavior not intent. People can’t see our heart but they can see our behavior.

The fastest way to build a trust account is to stop making withdrawals. You also have to be aware that withdrawals are bigger than deposits, each trust account is unique, there are two ways of viewing a trust account (your way and their way), and what is a deposit in one person’s account may be a withdrawal from another person’s account.

1. Talk Straight

Say what is on your mind. Don’t hide your agenda. When we talk straight we tell the truth and leave the right impression. Most employees don’t think their bosses communicate honestly. This creates a trust tax. This causes speed to go down and costs to go up. We spend entirely too much time trying to decipher truth from spin.

Straight talk needs to be paired with tact. There is no excuse for being so blunt you hurt feelings and destroy relationships. Tact is a skill that can be learned and when coupled with straight talk, will build relationship trust.

2. Demonstrate Respect

The principle behind demonstrating respect is the value of the individual. The behavior is acting out the Golden Rule. Almost every culture and religion recognizes the value of the Golden Rule. We should treat people the way we want to be treated. Our actions should show we care. They should be sincere. People will notice if an action is motivated by a lesser reason or an impure value. Respect is demonstrated in the “little” things we do daily.

3. Create Transparency

Tell the truth in a way that can be verified. Transparency is based on principles of honesty, openness, integrity and authenticity. It is based on doing things in the open where all can see.

Part of transparency is sharing information. If ever in question, err on the side of disclosure. Rollin King, founder of Southwest Airlines states, “We adopted the philosophy that we wouldn’t hide anything, not any of our problems, from the employees.” That’s transparency.

4. Right Wrongs

To right a wrong is much more than apologizing. It involves making restitution. With customers it may include that free gift along with the sincere apology. We have all been to a restaurant where we received an apology along with a free dessert or a coupon for something free the next time we eat there. It is the principle of going the extra mile. Some will justify their wrongful behavior while others will try covering up their misdeeds. Both of these attempts will not only fail to make deposits in trust ac- counts, but are certain to make substantial withdrawals.

5. Show Loyalty

There are many ways to show loyalty to your employees. Covey focuses on two. First, give credit to others. As a leader you need to give credit to the individuals responsible for success. A leader should never take credit for the hard work of others. Just as bad is the one who gives credit to someone in their presence, but then down-plays their contribution to others.

Giving credit to others is the right thing to do. It will foster an environment where people are encouraged to be creative and innovative. It will increase trust and have a direct impact on the bottom line.

Second, speak about others as if they were present. Some people think it builds relationships to talk about others. The opposite is true. Talking about others behind their back will decrease trust with your current audience.

6. Deliver Results

The fastest way to build trust with a client is to deliver results. Results give you instant credibility and trust. Delivering results is based on competence. “This behavior grows out of the principles of responsibility, accountability and performance. The opposite of Deliver Results is performing poorly or failing to deliver. The counterfeit is delivering activities instead of results.” Delivering results converts the cynics, establishes trust in new relationships, and restores trust that has been lost due to lack of competence. It is also the first half of covey’s definition of leader- ship: getting results in a way that inspires trust.

7. Get Better

In today’s ever changing environment one must continue to improve or become obsolete. You cannot learn a skill and ride that one skill for 30 years. You have to constantly be improving. When others see you continually learning and adapting to change they become more confident in your ability to lead into the future. Be careful not to become a life-long learner that does not produce, or one who sees only one way to improve self and others.

Covey suggest two ways to get better. First, seek feedback from those around you. Second, learn from your mistakes.

8. Confront Reality

We cannot close our eyes to the tough realities we face. If we are honest about the difficult issues and are addressing them head-on people will trust us. We have to avoid the temptation to avoid reality or act as if we are addressing the difficult issues, while we are actually evading them.

9. Clarify Expectations

It is important to focus on a shared vision of success up front. This is a preventative measure. When expectations are not clearly defined up front, trust and speed both go down. A lot of time is wasted due to leaders not clearly defining expectations.

Failure to clarify expectations leaves people guessing. When results are delivered they fall short and are not valued.

10. Practice Accountability

In a 2002 Golin/Harris poll, “assuming personal responsibility and account- ability” was ranked as the second- highest factor in building trust. Great leaders build trust by first holding themselves accountable then holding others accountable.

Holding yourself accountable includes taking responsibility for bad results. It is often our natural response to blame others for failure. When we fail, we need to look in the mirror.

Holding others accountable allows performers to feel good about the job they are doing. It also increases trust by assuring performers that slackers and poor performers will not pull them down.

11. Listen First

Listening before prescribing builds trust. Trying to give advice before knowing all the facts is a waste of time and simply not fair. You need to be careful not to learn the mechanics of listening and leave the impression you are listening when you really are not. Remember that communication is more than just words, so you will have to listen to nonverbal messages as well. If a person is displaying a high level of emotion, they don’t feel understood. Keep listening. Also, a person is not likely to ask for advice until they feel you understand all the pertinent information. Don’t give advice too early.

12. Keep Commitments

Covey refers to this as the “Big Kahuna” of all the trust behaviors. When you make a commitment you build hope. When you keep a commitment you build trust. Be careful when making commitments. Make only the commitments you can keep. Also, don’t be vague when making commitments.

There are implicit and explicit commitments, and violating either is a huge withdrawal from the trust account. Be aware of the commitment expectations. Some companies are strict with internal meeting times and others are more flexible. Also, remember family commitments are just as important if not more so than work commitments.

13. Extend Trust

The other behaviors help you become a trusted leader; this behavior helps you become a trusting leader. We should extend trust to those who have earned it. Be willing to extend trust to those who are still earning it. Be wise in extending trust to those who have not exemplified a character worth trusting.

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The above excerpt was from Stephen M. R. Covey’s Book, The Speed of Trust.

Click Here to get a copy via Amazon.com >>

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