Servant Leadership and Relationship Trust



                    “You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if                                                                       you don’t trust enough.”

~Frank Crane, Author and Columnist

Stephen Covey (Stephen R. Covey’s son) highlights the second wave of trust in his book, The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything as Relationship Trust. This wave of trust is all about behavior…consistent behavior.

Covey provides 13 behaviors that if considered in our daily personal and work lives, would benefit Servant Leaders. The principle of behavior is about learning how to interact with other in ways that increase trust and avoid interacting in ways that destroy it.

The 13 Behaviors

Behavior #1 Talk Straight

Tell the truth and leave the right impression. Be honest. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth.

Behavior #2 Demonstrate Respect

Genuinely care for others. Show you care. Respect the dignity of every person and every role. Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in the little things. Don’t fake caring. Don’t attempt to be “efficient” with people.

Behavior #3 Create Transparency

Tell the truth in a way people can verify. Get real and genuine. Be open and authentic. Err of the side of disclosure. Operate on the premise of, “What you see is what you get.” Don’t have hidden agendas. Don’t hide information.

Behavior #4 Right Wrongs

Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Practice “service recoveries.” Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing.

Behavior #5 Show Loyalty

Give credit freely. Acknowledge the contributions of others. Speak about people as if they were present. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t bad-mouth others behind their backs. Don’t disclose others’ private information.

Behavior #6 Deliver Results

Establish a track of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen. Accomplish what you’re hired to do. Be on time and within budget. Don’t overpromise and under deliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

Behavior #7 Get Better

Continuously improve. Increase your capabilities. Be a constant learner. Develop feedback systems- both formal and informal. Act on feedback you receive. Thank people for feedback. Don’t assume today’s knowledge will be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges

Behavior #8 Confront Reality

Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead out courageously in conversation. Remove the “sword from their hands.” Don’t skirt the real issue. Don’t bury your head in the sand.

Behavior #9 Clarify Expectations

Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible. Don’t violate expectations. Don’t assume that expectations are clear or shared.

Behavior #10 Practice Accountability

Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing- and how others are doing. Don’t avoid or shirk responsibility. Don’t blame others or point fingers when things go wrong.

Behavior #11 Listen First

Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears- and eyes and heart. Find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you are working with. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others. Don’t presume you have all the answers- or all the questions.

Behavior #12 Keep Commitments

Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do. Make commitments carefully and keep them. Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences. Don’t attempt to “PR” your way out of a commitment you’ve broken.

Behavior #13 Extend Trust

Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend conditionally to those who are earning your trust. Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, and credibility (character and competence) of the people involved. But have a propensity to trust. Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.

Servant Leaders know that emerging daily to expand and grow on each of these behaviors – consistently- is what matters. One’s behavior has to become consistent with one’s values and relationships. It’s the only way to trust.

To Relationship Trust,

Dr. Crystal

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