Trust and Inspire

Stephen M. R. CoveySeason 3Episode 4


Stephen M. R. Covey is the bestselling author of The Speed of Trust and of the brand new book Trust & Inspire. He talks about his new book and how the principle of trust is crucial in creating a positive feedback culture.


Stephen M. R. Covey

Stephen M. R. Covey


Stephen M. R. Covey is the New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust, which has been translated into 22 languages and has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. He is also the author of the forthcoming book, Trust & Inspire: How Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others, which will be released on April 5th. Stephen brings to his writings the perspective of a practitioner, as he is the former President & CEO of the Covey Leadership Center, where he increased shareholder value by 67 times and grew the company to become the largest leadership development firm in the world. A Harvard MBA, Stephen co-founded and currently leads FranklinCovey’s Global Speed of Trust Practice. He serves on numerous boards, including the Government Leadership Advisory Council, and he has been recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award for “Top Thought Leaders in Trust” from the advocacy group, Trust Across America/Trust Around the World. Stephen is a highly sought-after international speaker, who has taught trust and leadership in 55 countries to business, government, military, education, healthcare, and NGO entities.


Troy Blaser (00:05):
Hello, welcome to today's episode of Simply Feedback. The podcast brought to you by LearningBridge. I'm your host, Troy Blaser. Our guest today, I'm very excited to have him on, our guest today is Stephen M. R. Covey, who is a New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust, which has been translated into 22 languages, has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. He is also the author of the book Trust & Inspire: How Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others, which is available on April 5th. Stephen brings to his writings the perspective of a practitioner as he is the former President and CEO of the Covey Leadership Center, where he increased shareholder value by 67 times and grew the company to become the largest leadership development firm in the world. A Harvard MBA, Stephen co-founded and currently leads FranklinCovey's Global Speed of Trust Practice. Stephen is a highly sought-after international speaker who has taught trust and leadership in 55 countries to business, government, military education, healthcare, and NGO entities. Stephen M. R. Covey, it is great to have you on the podcast with us today. Thank you so much for being here.
Stephen M. R. Covey (01:19):
Absolutely, Troy, thank you. I'm really excited, delighted to be here with you today.
Troy Blaser (01:24):
Thanks. You know, it's really been a pleasure for me to read your new book Trust & Inspire. It's been super interesting, fascinating for me to read the book and to kind of get familiar with the principles that are there. As we start though today, the episode, or our conversation today, I wonder thinking about the name of the podcast, Simply Feedback, maybe can you share with us a time in your life that somebody gave you feedback, perhaps it had an impact on your life or was meaningful to you in some way?
Stephen M. R. Covey (01:54):
Absolutely. I'll never forget. This was when I'd become the president at Covey Leadership Center. And so I'd been there for a while and done a number of different roles. I became the president. I'll never forget having a conversation with one of my then direct reports. He had been a peer to me, and now he is my direct report. He was leading one of our divisions. And I thought that I had been somewhat kind of balanced in how I viewed the different divisions that we had for the company, the different channels. And, but this person had the courage to sit down with me and say, Stephen, I need to tell you something. I think there's a little bit of an unconscious bias that you have against our division. You view us as not very profitable and helpful.
Stephen M. R. Covey (02:53):
And at the time we didn't have a lot of good financial data to really assess the profitability of things. And, but he said, but the perception I have, and others in my division, is that you kind of are biased against us. And here I am coming in as the new president. And I got one team thinking I'm not giving an equal playing field to them that I've biased myself against them. And I said, oh, no, of course I'm not, I'm not biased. I like everybody the same, but I'm worried about the profitability. And I'll tell you what, one of the things we were doing at the time was doing what they call activity-based costing, where you're actually looking at hard analytics on profitability to the nth degree on these things. And what came back was that particular division, in fact, was more profitable than I thought.
Stephen M. R. Covey (03:45):
And the feedback that the person was giving me was right on. But I didn't learn that until a little bit later. So I took the feedback and said, I might think I'm being unbiased, but maybe I'm not. And so I listened to it. I was impacted by it. It changed how I communicated. It changed the words that I would use to make sure that I was more affirming of what we were doing. And then when the data came back, that in fact, they were actually doing quite well. It was a validation that I'd been given, good feedback, I responded to it. I course-corrected to the feedback, which really helped keep my credibility with that team and that group. Had I not done that, had I just blown off the feedback and said, no, you're wrong. I'm not biased. And there's no reason to change.
Stephen M. R. Covey (04:36):
Then when the data came back later that they were doing really well and I had been perceived as having, you know, an ax to grind against them, then it really would've been embarrassing and I would've lost credibility with that group. Because they would've been validated that they were right and I was wrong. But instead, I was influenced by them beforehand. I course-corrected. I changed on how I approached it. And then when the data came back, it was validating to both of us. That I did the right thing by responding to the feedback. They did the right thing by coming to me. And so I just learned from that that we need feedback. And I'd like to put it this way that the height of subjectivity is to think that we're objective. And the height of objectivity is to know that we're subjective and to take steps to compensate for that, including getting feedback, so you can compensate for our subjectivity.
Troy Blaser (05:37):
And in this case, getting those hard numbers eventually, right. Which kind of, you can't really argue with that.
Stephen M. R. Covey (05:43):
That was another form of feedback that was yeah. So I had the, kind of the softer feedback and then the harder feedback, hard edge feedback and yes, that was exactly it. I needed it.
Troy Blaser (05:54):
Stephen, one thing I loved about that story is you did receive the soft feedback from that direct report and you started to act on it and consider it even before getting the hard numbers. And as you mentioned that allowed you to maintain or establish or strengthen the credibility between you and that direct report and that whole division, which kind of gets back to the theme of the book and theme of much of your work on trust. Because you know, that feedback and your acting on that feedback goes to the level of trust between you and the division, between the direct report. You know, I noticed right on the first page of the book that Trust & Inspire is dedicated to your mother and father, Sandra and Stephen R. Covey. Clearly, they had a big influence on your career path, your interest in business leadership in general. But can you tell us a little bit about, you know, how did you come to focus on the concept of trust, which has been as we know a common thread in The Speed of Trust and now the new book Trust & Inspire?
Stephen M. R. Covey (06:53):
Again, it came from my experience as a practitioner. When I was leading the Covey Leadership Center, we began to focus on building partnerships with our providers or with our vendors. And that the greater the trust we built with them, the better we could collaborate and create and innovate. We started to do the same thing with our clients to build relationships of trust. And we saw that when we did that, they became referenceable clients to us and they referred more business and that was a great way to grow. But then we started to apply it to our own people and saying, look, if we can build more trust in our culture, on our teams, that trust will enable everything good to happen. We can move faster, less cost. We could be more creative, more innovative, more collaborative, we'll engage our people better. And I began to see how trust changes everything.
Stephen M. R. Covey (07:49):
It sounds so obvious, but at the time, you know, trust was kind of seen as just this soft, warm and fuzzy, nice-to-have social virtue. But I began to see that trust was financial, that it was economic, it affected speed, it affected cost. And when there was distrust, we had to put in place all these steps and procedures and policies and processes to compensate for that lack of trust, all of which took time and cost money. And there was a high cost to low trust. But I also saw when we built that trust internally and externally, we would get this multiplier effect to our entire business and to my leadership, and to others' leadership. And we could do everything better. And so I came out of this saying trust matters enormously, but also that trust is learnable because we became intentional about saying we want to build trust on our team, in our culture as a better way of leading.
Stephen M. R. Covey (08:48):
And when we did that, we began to move the needle. We felt it, we could see it and we ultimately started measuring trust and you can move the needle on it. And that was exciting. And so I came out of this whole experience with the idea that trust is enormously significant, not just socially, but financially. That was a paradigm shift. And second, that trust is a learnable skill. That trust is a competency. Something we can learn, you can build it on purpose through your credibility, through your behavior. And that was also kind of a breakthrough versus kind of the idea of you either have it or you don't. And I'd say, no, that's your starting point, but in the same way that you can lose trust through your behavior, you can also build it, grow it through your behavior.
Troy Blaser (09:34):
Yeah. You mentioned how, you know, when there's a lack of trust, then you start to see policies and procedures come into place, that can be obstacles that can slow things down. And I laughed because I spent time with some of my colleagues this morning reviewing a potential proposal for a government contract. And we at LearningBridge don't do a lot of work with the government, but we spent two hours this morning reviewing a 60-page request for proposal, you know, with all of the details and the red tape and the bureaucracy that is involved in trying to work with the government. And that's sort of maybe the extreme opposite end of the speed of trust or the slowness that comes when there isn't trust. It was quite interesting for me this morning.
Stephen M. R. Covey (10:19):
Troy, that's a great example because you know, for the government, they want to make sure no one takes advantage of them. Because, you know, the hammer that costs $10,000 or whatever, and it embarrass everyone. So they want to make sure that can't happen. So they put in place a lot of procedures, but there's a cost to those procedures. And I understand, I've worked a lot with government and there's great people there, but also sometimes the starting point is they start with distrust because they just don't want to get burned.
Troy Blaser (10:49):
Yeah. So it leads to maybe not a $10,000 hammer, but certainly, more than I would pay if I run down to the local hardware store, right.
Stephen M. R. Covey (10:55):
Exactly. Yeah, absolutely.
Troy Blaser (10:59):
So in Trust & Inspire, you talk, you sort of compare and contrast the different styles of leadership. You know, you talk about a traditional command and control style of leadership, or even enlightened command and control. And you contrast that with trust and inspire as a different approach to leadership, what is it about today's world that kind of requires that different approach, that trust and inspire approach compared to the way things used to be, and you know, why do you think we're sort of behind the curve in adopting the trust and inspire model?
Stephen M. R. Covey (11:32):
Yeah. Well, the whole world is changing right in front of our eyes. We're all experiencing it. And even during this pandemic, and as we are coming out of it, we've seen the acceleration in some situations like work from home, remote work, this type of thing, maybe where you have got 10 years in one that has happened so fast, that I look at these emerging forces of change that are all around us. Technological change has never been greater than it is today. The pace of change, the amount of change, the type of change, disruptive technologies, technology's changing everything. But then I also look at other forces of change. Like the nature of work itself is changing. It's far more collaborative, more interdependent, there's more service-oriented, more knowledge-based work than ever before. Then I look at how the nature of the workplace is changing.
Stephen M. R. Covey (12:28):
And this has been tremendously accelerated through the pandemic work from home, work from anywhere, hybrid work, remote work combinations, you know, intentionally flexible work. It's always existed, but today at a much greater level than we've ever seen, then I look at how the workforce is changing. We have so many, you know, as many as five generations at work. And especially these younger generations, Gen Z and millennials that have a different psychological contract, if you will, with how they want to approach things and be treated. And then I finally look at that at how the nature of choice has changed. We've gone from in the past, maybe what we might call multiple-choice to almost infinite choice. There's so many options for anything. And so all these forces combined, it has changed our world and it's put a great premium on two key things. I call these the two epic imperatives of our time for any organization.
Stephen M. R. Covey (13:30):
The first is to win in the workplace by, you know, creating a high trust culture that inspires people so that we can win the war for talent. We can attract, retain, engage, and inspire the best people and bring out the best in people. And you got to have a great culture to do that. And otherwise, you'll lose your people. They have too many choices and options to other causes, other companies, other cultures, where they do feel trusted and inspired. So we got to build a great culture that inspires to win in the workplace. That's the first imperative. The second is that we need to collaborate and innovate to stay relevant in a changing world. Otherwise, we'll fall behind because everything's changing so fast. So we've got to be innovative. And you do that through collaboration. And I call that winning in the marketplace. And it's hard to win in the marketplace if you're not winning in the workplace.
Stephen M. R. Covey (14:29):
So there's a sequence to it. It's inside out. And to think that we can achieve those two imperatives, you know, building a great culture that inspires people and collaborate and innovate to stay relevant and changing the world to think we can do that through the old model of command and control and even an enlightened command and control, it's just not going to work anymore. You can't command and control your way to a great culture. And to win that war of talent, people are drawn to that, they're pulled to that, they're inspired to that, not compelled or forced into it. You can't command and control your way to collaboration and innovation. People volunteer it, they create it, but they want to be trusted and inspired. And so all of these things are saying, to operate today with a style of leadership of command and control is like playing tennis with a golf club.
Stephen M. R. Covey (15:26):
You know, think about it. The tool you're using, the style of leadership you're employing is not relevant for the game being played. It's a new game. We need a new way to lead. We need a tennis racket to play tennis and it's a new world of work. And that requires a new way of leading and I'm calling it trust and inspire. In juxtaposition to command and control. So we're all pretty clear of what we're trying to move away from, control. We're less clear of what we're trying to move toward. This book is trying to name it, label it, describe it, give people a process of how they can become a trust and inspire leader.
Troy Blaser (16:01):
I like that. It makes a lot of sense. I really liked how you talked about this inside-out approach. Starting with the culture internally, before you start to go out and win in the marketplace. And really that was kind of one of the themes that resonated for me as I read through the book was this idea that a trust and inspire leader goes first in a lot of ways. Even personally, you know, inside out, but even personally as a leader, which really then sets a powerful example to those that this person's trying to lead. So that was a theme that resonated for me. But I wanted to ask you, is there a theme or an idea in the book that especially excited you as you put it together?
Stephen M. R. Covey (16:40):
Yes. First of all, I love the one you mentioned. That it's inside out and the leader goes first. Somebody needs to go first, leaders go first. That's a big idea. And the great thing about that one, and that's empowering to all of us. We don't have to wait on anyone to do that. We can be the first to extend trust. We can be the first to demonstrate respect. We can be the first to talk straight when everyone is spinning around us and so forth. So that's a big idea. I love that one, but let me highlight one that's a little bit of a paradigm shift. And that is the idea of inspiring others. And the idea that everyone can inspire. It's not just for the charismatic. You know, a lot of people think of, you got to be charismatic to inspire, you know, how you going to inspire.
Stephen M. R. Covey (17:27):
I'm not charismatic, I'm an introvert, or what have you. But I want to separate charisma from inspiration. I'm sure that you're like me, Troy, where I know a lot of people who are charismatic, but who are not inspiring. And I know other people who, no one would call them charismatic, but I would definitely call them inspiring. Because of who they are and how they lead and the respect, the care, the concern, the compassion, the listening, and just, they inspire me with their behavior. They inspire me by their basic goodness or what have you. And so I'm separating charisma from inspiration and I'm saying inspiring others is a learnable skill. It's a competency. We can get good at it as a leader. And not only is it learnable, it's your job as a leader, it's a stewardship that you have, that's inherent with leadership to try to inspire those that you're with by how you lead. And if everyone can inspire, how do they do it?
Stephen M. R. Covey (18:38):
Because they learn to connect with people through caring at a personal level, interpersonal level, and through belonging at a team level, connecting with people, inspires people and connecting people to purpose, to meaning, to contribution, to why it matters. That also inspires people. And everyone can learn to do that, to connect with people through caring and belonging, and to connect to purpose, to meaning, to contribution. Those are learnable skills. And as you do that, you can begin to inspire people intentionally. And there was a study by Zenger Folkman, where they looked at 16 leadership competencies. And the number one competency that people wanted in their leaders was a leader who inspired them. So that was the number one competency people wanted. And yet it was near the bottom of what they were getting from leaders. So, you know, look at that, talk about feedback, and you know, there's a gap there. So the idea that inspiring others is a learnable skill, I think is an inspiring idea because you know, you don't have to be charismatic to do this.
Troy Blaser (19:56):
Yeah. And I think that's something that's often overlooked by people. They, you know, they might be in a leadership position or they might be designated as a leader and feel like, well, I'm not charismatic. So I can't inspire my people. And that's the gap that you're seeing, you know, in the study, for example, they're saying we want to be inspired and the leaders are saying, well, I'm not charismatic enough to inspire people. So I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to focus on other things.
Stephen M. R. Covey (20:21):
I think they're equating not only inspiration with charisma but also inspiration with motivation. And I want to distinguish between the two. Motivation is kind of extrinsic, external. Inspiration is intrinsic, it's internal. So people motivate with, you know, rewards and with carrot and stick type thing. If you do this, you get this carrot. If you don't do this, you get this stick, they punish you. And does that motivate? Sure. It motivates people to get more rewards, but you got to keep at it. You got to keep providing it. Inspiration is intrinsic. It comes from the Latin term inspirare, which means to breathe life into. So you inspire, you breathe life into something, but it's already inside of people. It ignites the fire that's within. When you do that through your caring and through belonging and through connection. What that does is, that can live on for years without the need to constantly provide more carrots, more sticks. And that's such a higher level. And as leaders, we can learn how to provide that for our people, for our team. And we're in a world that's dangerously low on inspiration. So we need this in our world today.
Troy Blaser (21:37):
I couldn't agree more. I, you know, as I think about someone who maybe is examining their own style, and maybe they're saying, well, I think I'm kind of an enlightened command and control leader, but I'm interested in becoming a trust and inspire leader. And it sounds like, you know, well, you talk about it in the book and you're alluding to it, there are specific steps that you can take to make that transformation to become a trust and inspire leader. As people are working on that, how can feedback play a part in that transformation?
Stephen M. R. Covey (22:09):
I think feedback is really important because part of this transformation is to become self-aware of where we're at. I actually make this point that the biggest barrier to becoming a trust and inspire leader is that we think we already are one. So we think we're doing this. We say, yeah, I'm not command and control, I'm trust and inspire. But the question is, is that how people experience us? Would they describe us as trust and inspire? Would our kids describe us as trust and inspire as a parent? And would our friends or neighbors describe us as that as a friend or neighbor? And so sometimes our biggest barrier is that we're not self-aware and there's gaps. And our intent might be that I want to be this kind of leader, but our style often gets in the way of our intent. And sometimes we're not even aware of it. Other times we may be aware of it generally, but we're not specifically enough to pinpoint it. And, you know, it's kind of like me with the feedback that I got on my leadership when I was seen as having a bias against a group, I resisted it until I started to challenge myself and said, maybe they're right. I think a similar thing on trust and inspire. I'll give you one illustration. In trust and inspire I'm highlighting three stewardships, three jobs with a trust for a leader.
Troy Blaser (23:34):
Stephen M. R. Covey (23:34):
You model, you trust, and you inspire. Modeling is who you are, trusting is how you lead, inspiring is connecting to why. Now you brought up modeling in the sense of, you said, leaders go first, someone goes first, that's modeling. I brought up inspiring. And then I'm saying that everyone can inspire by connecting with people through caring and connecting to purpose. But let me hit trusting for a minute. This second stewardship. Sometimes people might think, hey, I'm pretty trusting. But we've done, we've seen feedback on this where we do 360 feedback instruments and people get, they rate how trusting they are and how they view themselves. And then their team and others rate how trusting they are. We find in our data with having done literally tens, I think it's 80,000 of these, that there is a 300% gap of how much people overestimate how trusting they think they are compared to how others experience them.
Stephen M. R. Covey (24:44):
And so when, you know, when you say I'm a trust and inspire leader, I model, I trust, and inspire. Well, you're overestimating trusting by three times compared to what you really are, what people are experiencing. And, you know, the same thing could happen in inspiring or in modeling. In any point we need feedback. We need to know how we're doing, how we're coming across, how others are experiencing us. Lest we think that, you know, our head is our world and that's what everyone else is experiencing. And it may not be at all. And we may be completely unaware of it.
Troy Blaser (25:20):
You know something that's interesting to me too, about asking for that feedback and trying to narrow that gap between what I think about myself versus how others perceive me, even the act of asking for that feedback and then receiving that and acting on it, kind of like you did, it expresses some vulnerability for me as a trust and inspire leader. And that vulnerability can be something that strengthens the trust relationship between me and those people that I'm asking for that feedback.
Stephen M. R. Covey (25:47):
Troy that's beautiful. I couldn't agree more. You're exactly right. The very act of saying, hey, help me on this. Give me some feedback. How am I coming across? Or how's this working for you? How am I doing? Help me. You make yourself vulnerable. And when you are modeling this kind of vulnerability and authenticity, that builds trust. Brene Brown says the very act of vulnerability helps create trust because you're authentic, you're real, you're not putting on airs in a front. So you ask for feedback. The very process of asking for feedback involves people and makes you vulnerable and builds trust. Then when you get it and you actually listen to it, versus be defensive, and then act upon it, then that builds trust even further. It's kind of like you asked for feedback, you got it, you listened, and you changed, you improved.
Stephen M. R. Covey (26:44):
Boy, this is someone I can work with. I, you know, I trust that person. And so you want to ask for it, be vulnerable, that builds trust. But if you were to get it and then ignore it or do nothing about it, then they might say, well, they asked for it, but they didn't really want to hear it. Or they didn't really listen to it, and you might lose some of that trust. So, the very process of asking for feedback, receiving feedback, and then acting on feedback can be an extraordinary accelerator in building trust in a leader or in a person.
Troy Blaser (27:20):
Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Because for us here at LearningBridge, our aim is to help people receive feedback graciously and act on it visibly. And the part about acting visibly is really key to helping build that trust as you were suggesting. So I really get your point. It does put you in that vulnerable position, but it can be such an important tool. You mentioned some of the barriers that can exist for someone who's trying to become a trust and inspire leader. You know, one of the barriers that you talk about is the fear of failure, which I think is a very natural fear for someone, especially if they're used to command and control style of leadership to think, well, if I move to trust and inspire, you know, it might not work. My people might not do the things they're supposed to do. Is that a fear that you've ever experienced? Have you had a time in your life when you've tried to act as a trust and inspired leader and you've kind of seen it fail?
Stephen M. R. Covey (28:14):
All the time. I'm telling you, Troy, it's a journey, it's a process. And I'll give you just a personal example is, you know, I want to be a good trust and inspire parent. I want to believe in my children and see the potential in them and communicate the potential in them and help them develop it and unleash it. I want to do all those things. But it's very easy for me to fall into command and control. I, we go on a trip, and I quickly move into command and control. I'm trying to, you know, order people around and do things and just being dictatorial almost sometimes. My motives are good, but it's very easy to just fall into that and to be efficient.
Troy Blaser (28:57):
I think about trying to get a family to move through the airport. You know?
Stephen M. R. Covey (28:59):
Yeah. Yeah. And you know, and look, the reality is that you can be authoritative without being authoritarian. So in other words, you can still say, hey guys, we got to hurry. We got to get through here without, you know, without exploding or losing your cool or just being dictatorial and mean spirited or what have you. And so, but yeah, all the time I fall short in modeling. I'll never forget one time I'm at a basketball game. And I got kind of, I thought there was a bad call. Our team got robbed, and I just stood up and just started yelling at the ref. And, you know, you missed this call you fool, type of thing. And then I look down and there's my five-year-old son standing up yelling at the same ref saying the exact same thing I am.
Stephen M. R. Covey (29:50):
That's not my best modeling moment. You know? So I fall short too on all three of those stewardships. On modeling, on trusting, on inspiring and, you know, I don't want to fail either. And so, I find where I fall short the most tends to be this. When I try to become efficient with people. I love the idea of being efficient with things, efficient with processes because there's no agency involved. There's no autonomy involved. So yes, you want to be efficient with things and with a process. But when you try to become efficient with people, that usually is a command and control approach. I'm trying to contain them, control them, efficiently move them in a path. And I tend not to listen and I tend to try to just move them to what I want versus really working with them. And because I might say, I don't have time to listen, but I try to be efficient.
Stephen M. R. Covey (30:50):
You know, the irony is this, in the long run, when you're trying to be efficient with people, it usually takes you longer in the long run. You might get away with it for a while, but suddenly they don't trust you. And you've not built a good relationship and they're going to resist a lot of other things. But if I take the time to listen, show empathy, understanding, clarify, set up the agreements, clarify expectations, practice accountability around those expectations, take the time, be effective with people. What I find is, I build a relationship of trust, and then down the road, we can move fast. We don't have to spend the time on those things because we've already built a high trust relationship.
Troy Blaser (31:34):
That trust is there, yeah.
Stephen M. R. Covey (31:34):
And nothing is as fast as the speed of trust when you have it. So that's where I tend to fall short by trying to become efficient with people. Be efficient with things, but not with people, be effective with people.
Troy Blaser (31:44):
That concept really hit home for me as I read through the book. In my day job, I'm a software developer. I write computer code for a living. And so I spend eight hours a day focused on how can I make this be the most efficient process, the fastest process in the code that I write. And I get really good at that, but you're absolutely right that it doesn't work that way when you try to manage people that way when you try to be efficient with people, as you said.
Stephen M. R. Covey (32:09):
Yeah. I, another way of saying it is this: manage things, lead people. The danger comes when we try to manage people as if they were things. And that's command and control. Trust and inspire is I manage things very efficiently and I lead people effectively.
Troy Blaser (32:28):
I love it. Well, so Stephen, for somebody that maybe hasn't read the book yet, who's just listening to our conversation today. Is there some specific advice that you could give to that person who's heard these concepts and maybe wants to start making a change today? Where do they start?
Stephen M. R. Covey (32:45):
Yes. I would say the key place to start is to look in the mirror. And start with yourself. That's that whole inside-out process. Because it's very easy when it comes to something like this, trust and inspire, to think, well, look, I can't do it in my circumstances because I'm in a command and control company, or I've got a command and control boss, or you don't know my situation over here. There's, you know, the idea that this can't work here, this won't work here or, hey, I'm really good at this command and control. I know it well, I haven't been taught this other. I think if you look in the mirror and say, I'm going to go first, and I'm going to try to model the behavior, and I'm going to try to lead out in extending trust by building expectations and accountability. And I'm going to try my best to inspire through connecting with people and connecting to purpose.
Stephen M. R. Covey (33:42):
And if you just go first and not wait on anybody else or not wait on the perfect boss or the perfect situation, I've had people say, well, gosh, how can I ever operate with trust and inspire as a leader when my boss is completely command and control, well, great question. But if you wait for your boss to change, you'll be waiting a long time. If you model a different approach to leadership that still is focused on getting results but also does it in a way that grows the people and engages the people, inspires them. Then maybe you can model a leadership that could ultimately even influence your boss and affect them. And you become a model that becomes a mentor and you ripple out from there. So wherever you are, you can ripple out from, even if you're in a command and control environment, you could be a model of trust and inspire. An island of trust and inspire in a sea of command and control. And that's the whole idea is that, look in the mirror, don't wait on anyone else, start with yourself. And I would say, and when you start with yourself, focus on those three stewardships, modeling the behavior, trusting, and inspiring. And that's in your circle of influence. You can do this, you can get good at this. It matters a lot.
Troy Blaser (35:00):
I can just see a diehard command and control manager, sort of doing a double-take when a direct report maybe comes and extends that trust to the manager for the first time. And you know, that manager kind of goes, now, wait a minute, what's happening? I'm not used to this. It could certainly be that way.
Stephen M. R. Covey (35:16):
It absolutely can. And, it also, it can be refreshing. It can be disarming. It also can be shocking and people just don't even know how to deal with it. But I will highlight that trust and inspire doesn't mean that it's soft, weak, without expectations, or without vision or accountability. No, it can be all of those things. It can be, you have high expectations of people.
Stephen M. R. Covey (35:40):
And it's just that you believe in them. And so they actually are more inclined to reach their potential under your leadership, because your expectations are high and you believe in them, versus someone that has high expectations without that belief in the person, you know, different and kind outcomes. And so this is not soft. This is, it's really an "and" approach to leadership, which is saying, you still focus on getting results, but you're doing it in a way that inspires trust. You're doing it in a way that grows the people. So you can get results in the future too.
Troy Blaser (36:15):
I love it. Stephen, as you think about feedback, and I'm sure you've seen feedback used in a lot of ways, through your years of coaching and counseling and consulting with different organizations, but talk a little bit about the role that feedback plays for you and the ways that you've seen that be important in your work.
Stephen M. R. Covey (36:35):
Yes. A whole variety of ways. And I'm sure our listeners are familiar with most of these, if not all of them, but you know, the idea that the best feedback is where it's kind of an ongoing continuous process of feedback versus kind of stored up for the annual performance review. You wait the whole year, then you give it at the end. You know, no, it's so much better if it's kind of along the way, naturally, is part of how we learn, grow, improve, get better, makes a big difference. Also the idea of always trying to give "I" feedback of, you know, rather than you, or this or that, but I feel uncomfortable when this happens and when, you know, and so that it's less feeling like I'm attacking the person and more like I'm giving feedback in a way that can be useful. This is the effect this has on me. So I feel this when this.
Troy Blaser (37:26):
Here's how I perceive it.
Stephen M. R. Covey (37:28):
Yeah. That's helpful. And one other thought I have is that whenever you're giving feedback, always precede it with declaring your intent of why you're doing what you're doing. In other words, you're saying, look, I want to share some thoughts. My intent in this is to help.
Troy Blaser (37:47):
I like that.
Stephen M. R. Covey (37:47):
And especially if that's honest, if your intent is not to help, if your intent is to hurt, then probably don't give the feedback. Because it's not going to be helpful. And it's not going to help anybody if your intent genuinely is to help, and your intent genuinely is motivated by care and concern and love, then declaring your intent because it's authentic and real that I want to help, is a great thing that, you know, my intent is to help. And so here's something I've noticed that I think you could even become more effective if you'll pay attention to this. And I'm telling you this because I think it will help you. And I want to help. And I want to be a resource to you. That is just so much more powerful than just going right in and saying you got a problem when you do this. And gosh, there's no context for that. And I don't know why you're telling me this. You're trying to evaluate me or trying to help me or trying to hurt me type of thing. So always declare your intent in front of giving feedback.
Troy Blaser (38:50):
I like that. I think it's easy. It's an easy step to overlook, but it really sets the stage. It puts you on the same team as the person you're giving the feedback to as opposed to being adversaries.
Stephen M. R. Covey (39:01):
That is beautiful. You're doing it with them, not to them. And then the last thought is this that, you know, there's that expression, that feedback is the breakfast of champions. I'm going to slightly change that up.
Troy Blaser (39:15):
Stephen M. R. Covey (39:16):
I think that feedback is the lunch of champions, not the breakfast.
Troy Blaser (39:22):
Stephen M. R. Covey (39:23):
I think the breakfast of champions is vision. Of who you are. And when that comes first and breakfast means it comes first. When you start with a vision kind of, of who I am, what I'm about, what I'm trying to do, then when I get feedback. I'm grounded, I'm rooted. I can take that in. I can understand where that fits in context of what I'm trying to accomplish. And then I would say that course-correction is the dinner, but because I'm rooted with the vision of who I am, what my life's about, then when I get feedback, it's not, it doesn't devastate me because I know who I am. And instead, it's helpful of great, I can course-correct to this, but I know who I am. But if someone's not rooted around a vision and all they get from the beginning is just feedback.
Stephen M. R. Covey (40:20):
And the feedback is very difficult and they don't have a vision for themselves or a purpose, it could be so overwhelming and devastating that they're just blown completely off. So we need feedback. It is vital. And I'm just saying, always start with yourself and your own sense of identity and who you are, what your purpose is, what your vision is, that's your breakfast, that comes first. Then feedback is the lunch. Now I can understand that in context of who I am, and then I can course-correct as the dinner. And that I think that way of thinking about it can be a powerful way to receive feedback so we could actually receive more of it and not be just devastated by it.
Troy Blaser (41:05):
That makes a whole lot of sense. I really like that. Thank you so much for sharing that. So the book Trust & Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others is out now. Stephen, if people want to know more, if they've enjoyed our conversation, what should they do? What would you recommend that they do?
Stephen M. R. Covey (41:22):
I'd recommend you go, you could go to our website, And there's a lot of tools there, videos, things that you can find of help to you of, you know, that's right there on the website. You can just access, use. So If you found it interesting, I hope you buy the book, it's available everywhere, Amazon and the like, and you can follow me on Twitter at Stephen M. R. Covey, follow me on LinkedIn, this type of thing. And that way, engage with me and the like, and love to be a trust and inspire mentor, coach, confidant in this process as people make this journey towards a better kind of leadership that's needed in our new world of work. So lots of resources out there, but maybe might be the best starting point.
Troy Blaser (42:10):
Wonderful. Thank you so much for your time today. I've really enjoyed the conversation that we've been able to have. I enjoyed the opportunity to read the book and get to know the material that's in there. And I'll say I'm on board. I believe it. It's a great way to go. So thank you so much, Stephen.
Stephen M. R. Covey (42:25):
You are welcome, Troy. Thank you. I've loved being on this podcast. Simply Feedback. It's a great idea. It's vital for our success in life, and you've been wonderful to talk with. Thank you, Troy.