Stephen M.R. Covey – Smart Trust

The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility.”  ― Stephen M.R. Covey

As many of you know, Author and personal growth expert Stephen Covey passed away yesterday due to complications from a bicycle accident that he had sustained back in April.

He will be sorely missed by us all.

Stephen Covey is most famous for his book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which combines aspects of both personal development and management theory.

It’s a classic book and it has sold well over 20 million copies since its release back in 1989.

I haven’t read many books in the past year but recently I picked up a copy of Stephen M.R. Covey’s (Stephen R. Covey’s son) latest book: Smart Trust – Creating Prosperity, Energy and Joy in a Low-Trust World.

Smart Trust is based on the theory that distrust causes problems like lower levels of joy, energy and prosperity in business than trusting does, and gives plenty of facts to back it up in the book.

Stephen M.R. Covey does not advocate blindly trusting either, but advocates a new approach in business called Smart Trust.

Customer bill of rights

What is Smart Trust

Smart Trust is judgment. It’s a competency and a process that enables us to operate with high trust in a low-trust world.

It minimizes risk and maximizes possibilities. It optimizes two key factors (1) a propensity to trust and (2) analysis. Simply put, Smart Trust is how to trust in a low trust world.

The propensity to trust is the inclination, bias, or desire to trust people.

The propensity to trust is primarily a matter of the heart.

Having a high propensity to trust – extending trust deliberately and intentionally – is a vital dimension of Smart Trust.

The propensity to trust almost always provides the best starting point of Smart Trust; in other words, you lead out with trust first. You don’t ignore analysis; you just suspend it.

You approach situations with the belief that “most people are basically good,” and the reason you do this is because it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

When you lead out with distrust, you don’t even see the possibilities.

If you were to focus solely on your propensity to trust, you’d often be trusting blindly, and in a low-trust world, you’d constantly be getting burned.

To exercise Smart Trust, you need to combine a high propensity to trust with equally high analysis.

This is why, even with a strong propensity to trust, successful people and organizations set up provisions for the rogue 5 percent or so or are not trustworthy.

While the propensity to trust is primarily a matter of the heart, analysis is primarily a matter of the mind.

Analysis refers to your ability to assess, evaluate, and consider implications and consequences, including risk.

As with a high propensity to trust, strong analysis is a vital dimension of Smart Trust, but it too, must be tempered.

If it’s not – if you start out with a low propensity to trust – most of you are so steeped in analysis that the analysis will color your judgment.

The point is that analysis necessary but insufficient and, in most cases, shouldn’t lead.

Smart Trust Analysis involves the assessment of 3 vital variables:

  1. Opportunity – The situation – what you are trusting someone with.
  2. Risk – The level of risk involved.
  3. Credibility – The character and competence of the people involved.

I am halfway through this book and to read the stories about how companies like eBay, Pepsi, and Google and how high-trust Countries like Denmark, Sweden, and Australia are reaping the rewards financially by adopting the Smart Trust principles.

I definitely recommend Stephen M.R. Covey’s Book : Smart Trust – Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World.

The process of building trust is an interesting one, but it begins with yourself, with what I call self-trust, and with your own credibility, your own trustworthiness. If you think about it, it’s hard to establish trust with others if you can’t trust yourself.” ― Stephen M.R. Covey

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