The premise that trust, or lack thereof, is at the very root of all of our successes and failures as individuals and as a society, pervades this book. When trust is high, regardless of the setting, we as team members and leaders experience the “dividend of trust”. Higher productivity, a better working environment, higher motivation, and a feeling of safety and reliability. Such high levels of trust allow people to be their best! When trust levels are low, the author refers to the price that we all pay as a “tax”. Low levels of trust result in the opposite of what was previously described and are detrimental in every way to the success of individuals, businesses, or society as a whole.
Covey states that fundamentally there are two components of trust. The trust that we grant based upon the “character” of the people with whom we are dealing, and the trust that is based upon the “competence “of those people. He goes on to say that if we are to have “complete trust” in a person, a group of people, a government, or even a country, we must be able to answer “yes” to both considerations.
The author makes the point that the building of trust begins with us as individuals. He refers to this as “self-trust”. The self-evident question of, “how would we ever expect someone to trust us, if we do not first trust ourselves?” begins the journey into this multi-faceted topic. Covey asks the reader to look inward and evaluate what inside each of us would inspire trust in others. The examples of speaking honestly and without prevarication to others, and dealing with others fairly and honestly are both simple, and yet make great sense.
He goes onto explore the “multiplying factor” of high trust. The improvements that are to be found in communication, collaboration, execution, innovation, strategy, engagement, partnering, and relationships are explained and bolstered in the later sections of the book with many examples.
The topic of trust is divided into five “waves” in the book for examination by the reader:
The first wave: self-trust
The second wave: relationship trust
The third wave: organization trust
The fourth wave: market trust
The fifth wave: societal trust
The value of this book lies in its applicability to the working environment, our societal obligations, and most of all to our personal relationships. This is a volume to be read and re-read for the reflective value of its content.
As a leader, you will find the basis for that which is causing you consternation in this book. In addition, you will find confirmation for your work and support of the positive workplace culture you have created. It is a helpful read for aspiring leaders and those who find themselves drawn to focus first on the task rather than first on the relationships.