by Jeff Faull
Stephen M.R. Covey calls it “the one thing that changes everything.” When you have it, you can move forward quickly, confidently and positively. When you don’t have it, your enterprise, organization or endeavor is hindered, even paralyzed. According to Covey, that one thing that changes everything is trust. Covey’s New York Times Best Seller, in fact, is titled The Speed of Trust.
Covey maintains the one commodity often overlooked and underrated in organizational health and efficiency is this trust factor. He is not nostalgically longing for the days of deals sealed with a handshake or a verbal commitment, but he does maintain that where genuine trust exists, progress is made and the speed of our accomplishments and productivity is accelerated. In fact, Covey introduces one whole chapter with the striking statement, “nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.” He repeatedly affirms that “the ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key leadership competency of the new global economy.”
Covey spends the remainder of the book fleshing out practices and behaviors that create, build and maintain trust. He calls them “the thirteen behaviors”. The thirteen behaviors he suggests for trust building are:
- Talk straight: avoid spin and doublespeak; kindly tell truth and paint an accurate picture of reality
- Demonstrate respect: display kindness and respect, even when there is no apparent reward
- Create transparency: be authentic and honest; have a “nothing to hide approach” that removes suspicion and mistrust
- Right Wrongs: apologize and admit when we’re wrong; try to make it up to people when we fail them
- Show loyalty: be loyal to other people on the team. Never throw others under the bus. Keep confidential information private. Protect each other’s reputations.
- Deliver results: do what you promised; over-deliver; be punctual and thorough in following-through; as Covey says, “establish a track record of results.”
- Get better: constantly grow and improve; consider and respond to constructive advice and even criticism
- Confront reality: be willing to see things as they are; own what is un-pleasant. Jim Collins said in Good to Great, “confront the brutal facts.”
- Clarify expectations: overcommunicate; never assume that everyone knows what is expected; clarify desired results and unacceptable alternatives
- Practice accountability: insist on ownership of outcomes from yourself and from others
- Listen first: seek to understand; open ears before opening the mouth
- Keep commitments: do what we say we are going to do
- Extend trust: we cannot be trusted if we’re unwilling to trust others first
These ideas – this whole book – should be an unnecessary reminder for Christians. It wouldn’t be too difficult to attach specific Scriptures onto each of these thirteen behaviors. We are followers of the One who said, “let your yes be yes and let your no be no.” We believe the claim of the Psalmist when he described integrity as one who “swears to his own hurt and changes not,” (Ps 15:4). We resonate with the Apostle who tells us to “put aside falsehood and speak truthfully to one another.” The benefits of the speed of trust should be ours by default. This is where we live and should be a given for believers. Nowhere should the value of trust be more evident than in the church world.
We all know, sadly, that trust is painfully lacking not only in our culture but in churches as well. Dysfunction and disingenuous behavior by both individuals and teams in leadership only perpetuates suspicion and difficulty.
Remember the various people that Paul recalled in some of his most trying moments:
- Onesiphorus, who showed up when everyone else deserted
- Timothy, a son in the faith and kindred spirit to Paul, genuinely concerned with others’ welfare more than his own
- Epaphroditus, one who persevered in his ministry through life-threatening illness
- Stephanus, devoted to the Church and her ministry in Greece along with his family
- Aquila and Priscilla, who “risked their necks” for Paul
Paul trusted all these people deeply; he knew he could count on them because of the integrity and character they had demonstrated.
Now more than ever, followers of Jesus need to rebuild and inspire trust in a world that seems to have lost the concept.