top of page
  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Book Review & Summary: The Speed of Trust, Reviewed by Zan Jones

A few years ago Susan picked up a book at the airport called The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey. She was so impressed with the content that she got involved with the CoveyLink organization to learn more about how to help organizations build High Trust environments while helping keep them in the Smart Zone.

Susan also asked all of her staff to read the book knowing it would benefit her two companies as well as the people we serve. In the last several years Susan has referred to this book many times in her clinical practice and in her speaking engagements. It had such a profound impact on her that she revamped the Smart Zone model to include Trust as a basis to support staying in the Smart Zone. Because we refer to it on a regular basis we are providing a book summary below.

Covey proves that Trust is not just a social virtue. It is also a measurable economic driver that impacts performance. In other words, Trust will make you money. Not being trusted will cost you money.Here is the simple formula he uses:

When Trust goes up, speed will go up and costs will go down.

Trust (UP) = Speed (UP) Costs (DOWN)Conversely,

When Trust goes down, speed will go down and costs will go up.

Trust (DOWN) = Speed (DOWN) Costs (UP)

For example, before 9/11 we could arrive at the airport 30 minutes before take off and breeze through security. But now, since Trust has gone down, we have to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before take off and pay a 9/11 security tax on every ticket. Covey also points out the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that was implemented in the Low Trust wake of scandals like Enron and WorldCom. In other words, Trust has gone down, speed has gone down and cost has gone up.

Covey cleverly defines what he calls the Trust Tax which is the cost of Low Trust and the Trust Dividend which is a quantifiable reward of High Trust.

High Trust Tax work environments experience:

  • Unhappy employees and stakeholders

  • Micromanagement and bureaucracy

  • CYA behavior and hidden agendas

  • Redundant hierarchy

While High Trust Dividend organizations enjoy:

  • Good communication

  • Few office politics

  • Effective collaboration and execution

  • Positive partnering

  • Strong engagement and innovation

Covey also proves his hypothesis that, "Nothing is as fast as the Speed of Trust," using his 5 Waves of Trust model.

The 5 Waves of Trust are:

  • Self Trust.

  • Self Trust pertains to confidence we have in ourselves, how we walk our talk and keep commitments. Here he outlines the 4 Cores of Credibility which are: one's integrity, intent, capabilities and accomplished results. Covey tells a hilarious story of how his dad accidentally left his mother out on the freeway in the middle of the night!

  • Relationship Trust.

  • This Wave provides guidance on how to interact with others in a way that increases Trust and avoid interacting in a way that destroys it. It's all about consistent behavior. Covey outlines the 13 Behaviors that are common to High Trust people.

  • Organizational Trust.

  • Covey describes Low Trust organizations as being redundant, political, and disengaged with high turnover. High Trust organizations outperform Low Trust organizations by 3 times and have high stakeholder and customer value, accelerated growth, enhanced innovation and loyalty. My favorite example is of the retailer Nordstrom's one rule employee handbook, in an age of hundred page policy manuals, which simply states, "Use good judgment at all times."”

  • Market Trust.

  • Here, Covey quotes Oprah Winfrey, "In the end, all you have is your reputation."” My favorite quote, however, is Warren Buffet's words, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it."”

  • Societal Trust.

  • A French proverb states, "Fish discover water last." For fish, water surrounds them and they are so immersed in it that they don't recognize its existence until it becomes polluted. People, in a way, discover Trust last. In society, we depend on Trust and take it for granted until it becomes polluted or destroyed.

Covey brings it all together by showing how to extend "Smart Trust." His Smart Trust matrix includes 4 zones: Blind Trust, Distrust, No Trust and Smart Trust. Leadership is getting results in a way that inspires Trust. Many trusted managers who are competent and credible never make it to leaders because they don't know how to extend "Smart Trust." They may know how to be trusted but not how to extend Trust to others. In order for a leader to inspire Trust he/she must empower individuals to give it their all and create a High Trust environment where everyone works effectively with others.

In the words of Stephen M.R. Covey, "Nothing is as fast as the Speed of Trust!"”

bottom of page