It takes twenty years to build your reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
—Warren Buffett, Chairman & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
As Covey describes it, the 13 behaviors reflect both character and competence. This is valuable to understand because “the quickest way to decrease trust is to violate a behavior of character, while the quickest way to increase trust is to demonstrate a behavior of competence.”
Behavior #1: Talk Straight
What we say is true and forthcoming—not just technically correct. —Dell Inc.’s Code of Conduct Straight talk is really about honesty. The ability and integrity to speak the truth with great clarity is essential for success today. Too much is happening too fast to be delayed by confusion or deception. Strong leadership is necessary to create a culture of trust. Straight talk from top management is essential for success.
Behavior #2: Demonstrate Respect
I try to treat people as human beings….If they know you care, it brings out the best in them.
—Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman, The Virgin Group
Demonstrating respect builds trust on all levels. Expansion into global markets brings exposure to new customs and manners that need to be understood and integrated. This creates the space for unparalleled innovation and collaboration.
Behavior #3: Create Transparency
Creating transparency involves telling the truth in a way that can be verified. This means not hiding mistakes and information. Leaders who come from a place of authenticity and transparency are rewarded with loyalty and trust.
Behavior #4: Right Wrongs
To be an effective leader, one must practice humility. Mistakes are expected in a dynamic, innovative company. And no one is immune from them. To admit mistakes and make restitution, when necessary, is a sign of great integrity.
Behavior #5: Show Loyalty
To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.—Steven M. R. Covey
To demonstrate and encourage loyalty, it is important to acknowledge the contributions of others and offer praise freely. Leaders who speak about people as though they were present and show respect for their privacy gain the trust of those who are present.
Behavior #6: Deliver Results
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As a full participant in any organization, it is crucial to establish a track record of delivering results. However, it is also important to know what to deliver. This involves understanding how results will be implemented and making sure the results have value to the organization.
In a dynamic organization, individuals enjoy a lot more autonomy. Proactive behavior invigorates the system and moves the organization forward. It is good to underpromise and overdeliver.
Behavior #7: Get Better
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.—Alvin Toffler, American writer and futurist
A practice of continual learning is essential for the growth of both the organization and the individual. Improving skills and knowledge in your current area of expertise as well as learning through collaboration with other areas leads to exponential growth. Developing formal and informal feedback systems also supports learning.
Behavior #8: Confront Reality
Leaders need to be more candid with those they purport to lead. Sharing good news is easy. When it comes to the more troublesome negative news, be candid and take responsibility. Don’t withhold unpleasant possibilities and don’t pass off bad news to subordinates to deliver. Level with employees about problems in a timely fashion.—Jon Huntsman, chairman, Huntsman Chemical
When times are tough, confronting reality requires obligated courage. True leaders share the truth at all times and address the difficult issues directly.
Behavior #9: Clarify Expectations
When communicating within an organization, clarity of word and deed is very powerful. Effective communication and feedback are essential for ensuring that everyone understands what is expected. It is dangerous to assume otherwise.
Personal accountability fuels trust and mobilizes an organization for growth. Leaders must set the standard by holding themselves accountable. Then they are in integrity and can hold others accountable. Avoid blaming others when things go wrong.
Behavior #11: Listen First
I have found that the two best qualities a CEO can have are the ability to listen and to assume the best motives in others.—Jack M. Greenberg, chairman and CEO, McDonald’s
As discussed Chapter 3, truly listening is an art that takes intention and effort. But the value of this practice is significant. To understand someone, it is necessary to listen with your eyes, ears, and heart. Seek to learn what is important to others. This is the first step toward accessing the plethora of untapped wisdom in organizations.
Behavior #12: Keep Commitments
Stand up for what’s right, in small matters and large ones, and always do what you promise.
—Reuben Mark, chairman and CEO, Colgate-Palmolive
Covey calls this the “Big Kahuna” of all behaviors. It is a fundamental building block of trust and is essential for effective collaboration.
Behavior #13: Extend Trust
Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Great leaders demonstrate a propensity to trust. When members of an organization extend trust to others, it fosters a collaborative environment. Learn from those who break the bond of trust.