Trust Behaviors

Stephen M. R. Covey in his book The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything identifies thirteen behaviors of high trust individuals and organizations. They are:

1. Talk Straight

Principles: honesty, integrity, straightforwardness

Be honest. Tell the truth. let people know where you stand. use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions.

2. Demonstrate Respect 

Principles: civility, fairness, kindness, love, respect

Genuinely care for others. Show you care. Respect the dignity of every person and every role. Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in the little things. Don’t fake caring. Don’t attempt to be “efficient” with people.

3. Create Transparency

Principles: authenticity, honesty, integrity, openness

Tell the truth in a way that people can verify. Get real and genuine. Be open and authentic. Err on the side of disclosure. Operate on the premise of : “What you see is what you get”. Don’t have hidden agendas. Don’t hide information.

4. Right Wrongs

Principles: humility, integrity, restitution

Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing.

5. Show Loyalty

Principles: gratitude, integrity, loyalty recognition

Give credit freely.  Acknowledge the contributions of others. Speak about people as if they were present. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t bad-mouth other behind their backs. Don’t disclose others’ private information.

6. Deliver Results

Principles: accountability, performance, responsibility

Establish a track record of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen. Accomplish what you’re hired to do. Be on time and within budget. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

7. Get Better

Principles: change, continuous improvement, learning

Continuously improve. Increase your capabilities. Be a continuous learner. Develop feedback systems – both formal and informal. Act on the feedback you receive. Thank people for feedback. Don’t consider yourself above feedback. Don’t assume today’s knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges.

8. Confront Reality

Principles: awareness, courage, respect, respect

Take issues head on, even the “undiscussables.” Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead out courageously in conversation. Remove the “sword from their hands.” Don’t skirt the real issues. Don’t bury your head in the sand.

9. Clarify Expectations

Principles: accountability, clarity, responsibility

Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible. Don’t violate expectations. Don’t assume that expectations are clear and shared.

10. Practice Accountability

Principles: accountability, ownership, responsibility, stewardship

Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing – and how others are doing. Don’t avoid or shirk responsibility. Don’t blame others or point fingers when things go wrong.

11. Listen First

Principles: mutual benefit, respect, understanding

Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears – and your eyes and heart. Find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you’re working with. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others. Don’t presume you have all the answers – or all the questions.

12. Keep Commitments

Principles: courage, humility, integrity, performance

Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do. Make commitments carefully and keep them. Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences. Don’t attempt to “PR” your way out of a commitment you’ve broken.

13. Extend Trust

Principles: empowerment, reciprocity

Develop a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust. Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, credibility (character and competence) of the people involved. But have a propensity to trust. Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.

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