Stephen M. R. Covey started a trust revolution in 2008 with The Speed of Trust, which sold more than one million copies. In his new book, coauthored with CoveyLink cofounder Greg Link, he solidifies the long-overdue relevance and demand for integrity within our global culture and economy.
Our world is being hit daily by the shocking truth of corruption that has infiltrated society. Books, articles, and documentaries such as Inside Job expose the ugly facts that no one can ignore. No longer can corporate entities operate behind a curtain like the wizard of Oz.
But what can we do about all this? Smart Trust fills a vacuum by answering that question. The book's subtitle, Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World, reveals the limitless benefits of operating from the new smart trust standard.
Smart Trust starts out with a broad perspective on how trust principles affect entire countries. A Trustworthiness and Prosperity of Nations chart shows how countries that rate high on the Corruption Perceptions Index—for instance, Iraq and South Korea—struggle economically, while countries that rate high on trust and low on corruption, such as Denmark and Sweden, fare much better.
Covey and Link build their case with stories of leaders and organizations that have created sustainable, smart-trust success, and how they did it. One example is Warren Buffett, who consistently tells his leaders, "Let's be sure that everything we do in business can be reported on the front page of a national newspaper or an article written by an unfriendly but intelligent reporter."
What makes this book even more valuable is the many exercises and graphs that can help us implement smart trust in ourselves and our organizations. For instance, the Smart Trust Matrix charts the two elements of Smart Trust—propensity to trust and analysis of situation, risk, and credibility—to show the four different scenarios of trust: 1) a high propensity to trust combined with low analysis results in gullibility, or blind trust; 2) a high propensity to trust combined with high analysis results in good judgment, or smart trust; 3) a low propensity to trust combined with low analysis results in uncertainty and indecision, or no trust; 4) a low propensity to trust combined with high analysis results in suspicion, or distrust.
Digging even deeper into how and why we respond and behave the way we do, the next chapters elaborate on the five action steps of smart trust:
1) choose to believe in trust;
2) start with self;
3) declare your intent, and assume positive intent in others;
4) do what you say you're going to do;
5) lead out in extending trust to others.
This book clearly shows how smart trust is a powerful performance multiplier, which is why I'm adding it to my short list of must-reads for my organization.
Paperback, 296 pages, $27; Free Press, 2012.