Recently, I read a book about trust called The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey, whose father, Stephen R. Covey—a business guru of sorts who authored the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote the book’s foreword. (In small type at the bottom of the cover below the author’s name it admits “with Rebecca R. Merrill.”) The copyright for the book is 2006 (by the author, not by publisher Simon & Schuster), and emblazoned across the top of the paperback volume—along with the pages of endorsements by “CEOs;” “Business Authorities;” “Marketing Authorities;” “Media Authorities;” “Government, Education, and Healthcare Authorities;” “Personal and Professional Authorities;” and “Learning and Human Resource Authorities”—is the banner “New York Times Bestseller.” In other words, this is a much vouched-for work.
As you can tell from the book’s title and its subtitle, “The One Thing That Changes Everything,” the book is all about how trust makes business (and, the author asserts, personal relationships, which he uses in narratives to illustrate many examples) more successful—that is, as far as business is concerned: quicker and more profitable, and lends it a competitive edge in a “flat world” (Thomas Friedman and his idea about a “flat world” is referred to many times) global economy. While going back and forth between business and relationships, the book does provide very helpful and convincing examples to illustrate its points. Trust is something we take for granted, at least until it is gone. Sometimes, we don’t notice it has disappeared until it is too late. But, trust, contrary to most assertions, can usually be restored and sometimes accrues quickly.
Choosing this volume was not, I’ll acknowledge, my own initiative; it was tangential to my position as a Director of Development and Planned Giving at a university, where the development (aka advancement, or fundraising) team is preparing for a leadership retreat, led by an outside consultant. In other words, it was assigned reading I took on preemptively. Extrapolating the principles illustrated to the non-profit world was not that difficult, though Covey does not refer to the sector often. For instance, the index refers to one section—spanning two pages, which is, in fact, only a couple of paragraphs long—dealing with non-governmental agencies. Nevertheless, I dutifully read the entire work from cover to cover. (In addition to knowing a lot about trust, I now have too much information, perhaps, about the Coveys.)
It always amazes me how authors draw a whole book from such topics, but they can and do. Just look at the great number of competing titles in the business section of any bookstore. To get there, this volume enumerates four essential core principles and 13 behaviors—more than I, at least, can remember, let alone, most of the time, practice. The behaviors each fill a chapter, albeit most of them are rather short. The author assures us, we must follow these principles and behaviors if we want to reap the rewards of trust. I practice at least most of the behaviors, instinctively, or else, as the book teaches, I have a lot of recommended adjustments to make.
Armed with information presented in the book, I hope I am prepared for the retreat next month. I, and we—the team, should learn soon which pages in the book we are required or requested to have read before the event. Having read the entire volume, I will only have to review the pages assigned. Then, another book for my shelves! Want to read about trust? This book seems to have lots of information about it, including how to find and instill it in others; even if there are seeming gaps in the logic or examples sometimes. In my opinion, it has an optimistic point of view, one which I can appreciate and find reassuring.