The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. CoveyImage: Amazon

Executive Summary

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Stephen M. R. Covey, widely known as one of the world’s leading authorities on trust, asserts that it is “the most overlooked, misunderstood, underutilized asset to enable performance. Its impact, for good or bad, is dramatic and pervasive. It’s something you can’t escape.” Thankfully, it’s is also the thing that can dramatically improve your personal and professional success.

Why trust? The simple, often overlooked fact is this: work gets done with and through people. The Speed of Trust offers an unprecedented and eminently practical look at exactly how trust functions in every transaction and every relationship—from the most personal to the broadest, most indirect interaction. It specifically demonstrates how to establish trust intentionally so that you and your organization can forego the time-killing, bureaucratic check-and-balance processes that is so often deployed in lieu of actual trust.

” If you’re not fast – you’re dead !! “

Jack Welch

The Speed of Trust

“The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything” is a book written by Stephen M.R. Covey, the son of Stephen Covey, author of the well-known “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” In this book, Covey explores the concept of trust and its impact on personal and organizational effectiveness.

The central theme of the book is the idea that trust is not just a moral and social virtue but a crucial economic driver. Covey argues that trust is a key component that can significantly impact the speed at which individuals and organizations operate. When trust is present, it can accelerate processes, reduce costs, and enhance collaboration. Conversely, when trust is lacking, it can lead to delays, increased expenses, and strained relationships.

Key Takeaways

Smart Trust

  • Smart Trust is a nuanced approach that involves extending trust wisely and intentionally.
  • It requires a strategic decision based on principles and an evaluation of credibility and competence.
  • Trust is not a blind leap of faith but a thoughtful and discerning process.

Extending “Smart Trust”

  • Assess the intent, integrity, and competence of individuals or entities before extending trust.
  • Evaluate the context and make informed decisions based on the specific circumstances.
  • Find the right balance between being open to trust and ensuring that trust is not naively given.

Restoring Trust

  • Acknowledge the breach of trust openly and transparently.
  • Offer a genuine apology coupled with accountability for the actions.
  • Demonstrate consistent actions over time to rebuild credibility.
  • Rebuild communication by addressing concerns and actively listening to affected parties.

A Propensity to Trust

  • Balancing risk and reward is crucial in having a propensity to trust.
  • Cultivate openness in relationships by assuming positive intent and being receptive to diverse perspectives.
  • View setbacks as opportunities for learning and improvement rather than reasons to withhold trust.

The Greatest Risk

  • Not extending trust is considered the greatest risk of all.
  • The potential rewards of trust, including innovation, collaboration, and stronger connections, outweigh the uncertainties.

SPEED of Trust

  • Trust is a catalyst for success, and Smart Trust is a strategic leap that can make a significant difference in the The Speed of Trust.
  • Trust is not just a soft concept but a powerful force that influences relationships, organizations, and entire societies.

Self Trust


In the dynamic landscape of personal and professional development, few qualities are as foundational and transformative as self-trust. At the core of Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything,” lies the profound concept of self-trust. It is the cornerstone upon which all other forms of trust are built, forming the bedrock of individual effectiveness and success.

Understanding Self-Trust:

In The Speed of Trust, Self-trust is defined as more than just confidence in one’s abilities; it’s a deep, internal belief in one’s character, principles, and judgment. Covey argues that before we can expect others to trust us, we must first trust ourselves. This concept is grounded in the idea that our ability to keep commitments to ourselves influences our credibility and reliability in the eyes of others.

  1. Honesty with Oneself:
    At the heart of self-trust lies an unwavering commitment to honesty. It involves being truthful about our strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging mistakes, and taking responsibility for our actions. Covey emphasizes that the foundation of trust is integrity, and this starts with being honest with oneself.
  2. Clarity of Purpose:
    Building self-trust requires a clear understanding of one’s values and purpose. Individuals who are aligned with their core principles make decisions that are consistent with their beliefs, fostering a sense of trust within themselves.
  3. Setting and Achieving Goals:
    Self-trust is nurtured through the process of setting meaningful goals and achieving them. By consistently meeting commitments to oneself, individuals reinforce their belief in their capabilities, laying the groundwork for increased self-confidence.

The Impact of Self-Trust on Personal Effectiveness:

  1. Confidence and Resilience:
    Individuals with high levels of self-trust exude confidence. This confidence, rooted in a deep understanding of one’s abilities, allows individuals to navigate challenges with resilience. Instead of succumbing to self-doubt, they approach obstacles with a belief in their capacity to overcome.
  2. Risk-Taking and Innovation:
    Self-trust provides the courage to take risks and pursue innovation. When individuals trust their judgment, they are more likely to step outside their comfort zones, explore new ideas, and embrace change—a crucial aspect of personal and professional growth.
  3. Building Trust with Others:
    The trust we place in ourselves is transparent to those around us. Colleagues, friends, and family can sense when an individual is authentic and self-assured. This authenticity lays the groundwork for building trust in relationships, both personally and professionally.


In the journey towards success and fulfillment, self-trust emerges as a fundamental and transformative force. As Stephen M.R. Covey eloquently argues in “The Speed of Trust,” it is the starting point for all other forms of trust. By cultivating honesty, clarity of purpose, and a track record of keeping commitments to oneself, individuals not only enhance their personal effectiveness but also become trustworthy leaders and collaborators.

In essence, self-trust is not a solitary pursuit; it is the catalyst that propels individuals towards building trust with others and creating a positive, high-performance culture. As we invest in strengthening our self-trust, we unlock the door to a world of possibilities, where success is not just a destination but a journey guided by the unwavering belief in ourselves.

4 Cores of Credibility

The concept of the “4 Cores of Credibility” is an integral part of Stephen M.R. Covey’s work, particularly in his book “The Speed of Trust.” These cores represent fundamental aspects that contribute to an individual’s or an organization’s credibility, forming the basis for trustworthiness. Let’s delve into each core:

Core 1: Integrity: Are You Congruent?

  • Definition: In The Speed of Trust, integrity refers to the alignment of one’s actions with one’s values, principles, and ethical standards.
  • Importance: Being congruent in actions and values establishes a foundation of trust. It involves honesty, transparency, and consistency in behavior.
  • Key Questions: Do your actions align with your stated values? Can others rely on your honesty and consistency?

Core 2: Intent: What’s Your Agenda?

  • Definition: In The Speed of Trust, intent focuses on the motives behind actions. It involves ensuring that one’s intentions are positive, transparent, and oriented towards mutual benefit.
  • Importance: Trust is deepened when others perceive that your intentions are sincere, honest, and aimed at creating value for all parties involved.
  • Key Questions: Are your intentions transparent and aligned with creating mutual benefit? Do others perceive your motives as genuine?

Core 3: Capabilities: Are You Relevant?

  • Definition: In The Speed of Trust, capabilities refer to the skills, competencies, and abilities that make an individual or organization relevant and competent in a given context.
  • Importance: Trust is bolstered when individuals or organizations demonstrate the necessary capabilities to deliver on their commitments and responsibilities.
  • Key Questions: Are you equipped with the skills and competencies required for your role or task? Can others rely on your ability to deliver results?

Core 4: Results: What’s Your Track Record?

  • Definition: In The Speed of Trust, results focus on the outcomes and achievements that demonstrate a track record of success and reliability.
  • Importance: Trust is strengthened when there is evidence of consistent, positive outcomes and a history of fulfilling commitments.
  • Key Questions: What is your track record in terms of delivering results? Can others trust that you will follow through and achieve success?

In essence, the 4 Cores of Credibility in The Speed of Trust, provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and building trust. Integrity ensures consistency between words and actions, Intent emphasizes positive and transparent motives, Capabilities highlight relevant skills and competencies, and Results showcase a reliable track record of success. When these cores are cultivated and aligned, they create a powerful foundation for trust, fostering strong relationships and contributing to individual and organizational effectiveness.

Relationship Trust


In the intricate dance of human interactions, trust forms the bedrock upon which robust and enduring relationships are built. Stephen M.R. Covey, in his seminal work, “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything,” delves into the profound concept of relationship trust. This facet of trust extends beyond mere interpersonal dynamics; it is a catalyst for enhanced collaboration, communication, and overall effectiveness in both personal and professional spheres.

Understanding Relationship Trust:

Relationship trust, as articulated by Covey in The Speed of Trust, , is the reliance on the integrity, character, and competence of another person. It goes beyond surface-level interactions, delving into the core values and principles that underpin genuine connections. Covey identifies key elements that contribute to the development and sustenance of relationship trust:

  1. Honesty and Transparency:
    Trust in The Speed of Trust, is fostered through open and honest communication. Individuals who are transparent about their intentions, actions, and expectations create an environment where trust can flourish. Covey emphasizes that honesty is not just a virtue; it’s a strategic advantage in building lasting relationships.
  2. Reliability and Consistency:
    Consistency in behavior and reliability in keeping commitments are pivotal in establishing relationship trust. When individuals consistently deliver on promises and demonstrate reliability, they instill confidence in others, laying the groundwork for trust to thrive.
  3. Listening and Empathy:
    In The Speed of Trust, relationship trust is cultivated through active listening and genuine empathy. Understanding the perspectives and emotions of others fosters a sense of connection and demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of those in the relationship.

The Impact of Relationship Trust on Collaboration:

  1. Enhanced Communication:
    Trust is a lubricant for effective communication. In a high-trust environment, individuals feel secure sharing ideas, feedback, and concerns. This open communication fosters creativity, problem-solving, and innovation within teams and partnerships.
  2. Increased Collaboration:
    Trust creates an atmosphere conducive to collaboration. When individuals trust each other, they are more likely to collaborate on projects, share responsibilities, and leverage each other’s strengths. This collaborative spirit becomes a driving force behind the achievement of common goals.
  3. Resilient Relationships:
    Trust acts as a buffer in times of adversity. Relationships built on trust are more resilient and better equipped to navigate challenges. Instead of succumbing to conflict, individuals with a foundation of trust can work together to find solutions and maintain the integrity of the relationship.


In the tapestry of human connection, relationship trust emerges as a thread of paramount importance. As outlined by Covey in “The Speed of Trust,” this form of trust is not merely a soft aspect of relationships but a strategic advantage with tangible impacts on effectiveness and success. By fostering honesty, reliability, and empathy, individuals can create a culture of trust that permeates through teams, organizations, and personal connections.

In embracing the principles of relationship trust, we not only fortify our interpersonal bonds but also set the stage for collaborative achievements and shared successes. As we navigate the complexities of an interconnected world, the currency of trust becomes invaluable—a currency that, when invested wisely, yields dividends of enduring relationships and unparalleled accomplishments.

The 13 Behaviors Framework for building Trust


In the pursuit of organizational excellence and thriving relationships, Stephen M.R. Covey introduces a powerful framework in his book “The Speed of Trust.” The 13 Behaviors outlined in this framework serve as a roadmap for individuals and organizations to cultivate trust, foster collaboration, and achieve sustained success. Let’s delve into each behavior, understanding how they collectively contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a high-trust environment.

  1. Talk Straight:
    In The Speed of Trust, the foundation of trust is laid upon straightforward communication. Talking straight means being honest and transparent, avoiding hidden agendas or manipulation. It sets the stage for open and authentic interactions.
  2. Demonstrate Respect:
    Respect is the cornerstone of healthy relationships. Demonstrating respect involves valuing others’ perspectives, treating them with dignity, and appreciating the diversity of thought and experience they bring to the table.
  3. Create Transparency:
    Transparency builds trust by eliminating ambiguity. It involves sharing information openly, providing clarity on decisions, and being transparent about motives and intentions.
  4. Right Wrongs:
    Acknowledging mistakes and taking corrective action is crucial in building trust. By righting wrongs, individuals and organizations demonstrate integrity and a commitment to accountability.
  5. Show Loyalty:
    Loyalty is a two-way street. Demonstrating loyalty to others fosters trust, and reciprocated loyalty creates a culture of mutual support and commitment.
  6. Deliver Results:
    In The Speed of Trust, trust is reinforced by consistent achievement. Delivering results involves setting and meeting expectations, ensuring that promises made are promises kept.
  7. Get Better:
    Continuous improvement is essential in the journey towards trust and success. Embracing a mindset of learning and growth not only enhances individual capabilities but also contributes to the overall development of the organization.
  8. Confront Reality:
    Trust is grounded in a realistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities at hand. Confronting reality involves facing difficult truths, addressing issues head-on, and making informed decisions.
  9. Clarify Expectations:
    Misunderstandings can erode trust. Clarifying expectations involves ensuring that everyone is on the same page, with clear agreements and defined roles.
  10. Practice Accountability:
    Trust thrives in an environment where individuals take responsibility for their actions. Accountability involves owning up to mistakes, learning from them, and actively working towards improvement.
  11. Listen First:
    Effective communication is a two-way street. Listening first, before expressing one’s own thoughts, fosters understanding and demonstrates a genuine interest in others’ perspectives.
  12. Keep Commitments:
    Consistency in keeping commitments is fundamental to trust-building. Individuals and organizations that reliably follow through on promises establish a track record of dependability.
  13. Extend Trust:
    Trust is reciprocal. By extending trust, individuals inspire others to reciprocate. It involves trusting others before they have earned it, creating a positive cycle of trust-building.


The 13 Behaviors outlined by Stephen M.R. Covey in The Speed of Trust, are not merely a checklist but a comprehensive guide to cultivating a culture of trust. As individuals and organizations embrace these behaviors, they lay the groundwork for improved collaboration, increased effectiveness, and enduring success. In a world where trust is the currency of relationships and achievements, integrating these behaviors becomes a transformative journey towards building a high-trust environment.

Stakeholder Trust


In the intricate tapestry of modern business, the concept of Stakeholder Trust has gained prominence as a critical factor shaping the success and sustainability of organizations. Stephen M.R. Covey, in his influential book “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything,” underscores the significance of trust not only within organizations but also among their diverse array of stakeholders. This article explores the essence of Stakeholder Trust, its impact on organizational performance, and strategies for businesses to cultivate and maintain trust among their various stakeholders.

Understanding Stakeholder Trust:

Stakeholder Trust refers to the confidence and reliance that individuals and groups outside an organization place in its intentions, capabilities, and ethical conduct. Stakeholders encompass a broad spectrum, including customers, employees, investors, suppliers, regulators, and the communities in which organizations operate. Covey identifies key elements that contribute to the development and sustenance of Stakeholder Trust:

  1. Reliability and Consistency:
    Stakeholder Trust is built on a foundation of reliability and consistency in organizational actions. When stakeholders observe a consistent track record of dependability and ethical behavior, trust is nurtured.
  2. Open and Transparent Communication:
    Transparent communication is pivotal in building Stakeholder Trust. Organizations that openly share information about their goals, performance, and decision-making processes establish a level of transparency that fosters confidence among stakeholders.
  3. Mutual Benefit and Shared Values:
    Stakeholder relationships thrive when there is a mutual understanding of shared values and goals. Organizations that actively engage with stakeholders to identify and address common interests contribute to the development of trust.

Impact of Stakeholder Trust on Organizational Performance:

  1. Investor Confidence:
    Stakeholder Trust is crucial for attracting and retaining investors. Organizations perceived as trustworthy are more likely to gain the confidence of investors, leading to increased financial support and stability.
  2. Customer Loyalty:
    Trust is a key driver of customer loyalty. Organizations that prioritize customer satisfaction, deliver on promises, and uphold ethical standards build lasting relationships with their customer base.
  3. Employee Engagement and Retention:
    A culture of trust extends to the workforce. Organizations that foster trust among employees experience higher levels of engagement, job satisfaction, and retention, contributing to overall organizational success.
  4. Collaboration with Suppliers and Partners:
    In The Speed of Trust, tust is foundational in collaborations with suppliers and business partners. When organizations and their partners trust each other, it paves the way for mutually beneficial relationships, innovation, and shared success.

Strategies for Cultivating and Maintaining Stakeholder Trust:

  1. Proactive Communication:
    Regular and proactive communication with stakeholders is essential. Organizations should keep stakeholders informed about key developments, changes, and initiatives, demonstrating a commitment to transparency.
  2. Ethical Leadership and Governance:
    Ethical leadership and governance are critical for building Stakeholder Trust. Organizations should adhere to high ethical standards, ensuring that decisions and actions align with their stated values.
  3. Social Responsibility and Sustainability:
    Demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility and sustainability builds trust with various stakeholders. Organizations that actively contribute to the well-being of the communities in which they operate garner support and goodwill.
  4. Responsive and Adaptable Practices:
    Organizations must be responsive to stakeholder concerns and adaptable to changing expectations. Being receptive to feedback and actively addressing stakeholder needs contributes to the development of trust.


Stakeholder Trust is not a static state but an ongoing relationship that requires deliberate effort and a commitment to ethical and transparent practices. As organizations navigate the complexities of the modern business landscape, recognizing the interconnectedness of stakeholders and prioritizing trust-building becomes a strategic imperative. By fostering open communication, upholding ethical standards, and actively engaging with stakeholders, organizations can cultivate a culture of trust that forms the bedrock of sustainable success and positive societal impact. As Covey contends, in the Speed of Trust, organizations find the catalyst for enduring prosperity and meaningful stakeholder relationships.

Inspiring Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of effective relationships, whether in personal connections or professional collaborations. Stephen M.R. Covey’s concept of “Smart Trust” provides a framework for not only extending trust wisely but also restoring it when it has been compromised. In this article, we explore the essence of Smart Trust, the art of extending it, the process of restoring trust, and the profound impact that a propensity to trust can have on relationships and success.

What is “Smart Trust”:

Smart Trust, as articulated by Covey, is a nuanced approach to trust that involves extending it wisely and intentionally. It recognizes that trust is not a blind leap of faith but a strategic decision based on principles and an evaluation of credibility and competence. Smart Trust involves assessing the situation, the individuals involved, and the context in order to make informed decisions about extending trust.

In the context of Smart Trust, individuals evaluate the level of risk and make choices that align with their principles and values. It’s about finding the right balance between being open to trust and ensuring that trust is not naively given. Smart Trust involves a thoughtful and discerning approach that acknowledges the complexities of human interactions and the importance of establishing a foundation of trust based on competence, integrity, and intent.

Extending “Smart Trust”:

Extending Smart Trust is an art that requires a combination of intuition, experience, and strategic thinking. It involves:

  • Assessment of Intent:
    Before extending trust, it’s essential to assess the intent of the individuals or entities involved. Understanding their motivations and values provides insights into whether trust can be reasonably extended.
  • Evaluation of Integrity:
    Smart Trust requires evaluating the integrity of the parties involved. This involves considering their track record, consistency in behavior, and adherence to ethical principles.
  • Analysis of Competence:
    Competence is a crucial factor in Smart Trust. Assessing the capabilities and expertise of individuals or organizations ensures that trust is extended to those who have the skills and knowledge to deliver on commitments.
  • Contextual Considerations:
    Smart Trust is context-dependent. The level of trust extended may vary based on the specific circumstances, the nature of the relationship, and the potential impact of the decisions involved.

Restoring Trust When It Has Been Lost:

Trust, once broken, requires intentional efforts to rebuild. Restoring trust involves:

  • Acknowledgment of Breach:
    The first step in restoring trust is acknowledging the breach. Openly acknowledging mistakes or betrayals demonstrates transparency and a commitment to addressing the issue.
  • Apology and Accountability:
    An apology coupled with accountability is essential. Taking responsibility for actions, expressing genuine remorse, and outlining steps for restitution rebuilds credibility.
  • Consistent Actions:
    Consistency is key in trust restoration. Demonstrating a commitment to change through consistent actions over time reinforces the sincerity of the efforts to rebuild trust.
  • Rebuilding Communication:
    Open and transparent communication is vital in the trust restoration process. Regular updates, addressing concerns, and actively listening to the affected parties contribute to rebuilding trust.

A Propensity to Trust:

Having a propensity to trust is a mindset that recognizes the inherent value of trust in fostering positive relationships and achieving collective success. It involves:

  • Balancing Risk and Reward:
    A propensity to trust involves a willingness to balance the inherent risks of trust with the potential rewards. It recognizes that calculated risks in extending trust can lead to innovation, collaboration, and stronger connections.
  • Cultivating Openness:
    A propensity to trust is characterized by cultivating openness in relationships. It involves assuming positive intent, being receptive to diverse perspectives, and creating an environment where trust can flourish.
  • Learning from Setbacks:
    Individuals with a propensity to trust understand that setbacks may occur, and not every trust extension will yield the desired outcome. However, they view setbacks as opportunities for learning and improvement rather than reasons to withhold trust in the future.


Inspiring trust involves the deliberate practice of Smart Trust—making informed decisions about when and how to extend trust. It’s a dynamic process that acknowledges the complexities of human interactions and the importance of evaluating intent, integrity, and competence. Moreover, the art of restoring trust showcases the resilience of relationships and the possibility of rebuilding even after trust has been compromised.

A propensity to trust is a powerful mindset that recognizes the inherent value of trust in achieving collective success. It involves a calculated openness, a willingness to take risks, and a commitment to learning from both successes and setbacks. In the realm of trust, not extending it is deemed the greatest risk of all, as the potential rewards of trust far outweigh the uncertainties that come with it. As Covey aptly captures, Smart Trust is not just a leap of faith; it is a strategic leap that can make all the difference in The Speed of Trust.

Other books by Stephen M.R. Covey

Stephen M.R. Covey, known for his influential work on trust, leadership, and personal development, has authored several books that offer valuable insights into these areas. Here are other books written by Stephen M.R. Covey – click on the image below.