The Trust Tree

From WBro Damien, Editor

One of the great skills in life is to distill and then present complex ideas in simple ways. This is what speaker, businessman, educationalist and author Stephen Covey (1932-2012) did with the book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything (2006) which he co-authored with Rebecca Merrill. Covey is perhaps best known for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1988) but has written many other books that you fill find in the “self-help” and business sections of a good bookstore.

While I’ve never actually read The Speed of Trust, I’ve had several colleagues explain its concepts and used them. I’ve read several summaries of the book and the below draws heavily from one, which I cite at the base of this article. I think the Trust Tree is a useful tool in many ways, especially when selecting project leads and teams. This is obviously also true for selecting Lodge, and Grand Lodge, officers.

The first time I ever saw the “Trust Tree” graphic, I thought it was excellent, it needs no real explanation to an intelligent mind, although in the book is written on the topic, Covey & Merrill obviously provide nuance to the concepts of Integrity, intent, capabilities and results expanding them to incorporate organisational, market and social trust.

It is interesting that trust is represented as a tree, and that the critical components are character based. No tree can grow without sound roots and trunk; you can kill its foliage, but if the first two die, the tree will die. With unsound roots & trunk; the tree will not flourish. This is true of trust when there is no integrity or poor intent.

Covey thinks integrity is more important honesty. Further, that integrity is made up of three other virtues. “Congruency”, acting in accordance with values, “Humility” which is includes “the ability to look out for the good of others in addition to what is good for you” and “Courage”; doing what is right even when it is hard..

Trust Tree

Covey and Merrill identify The 13 Behaviors of High Trust, pointing out that Relationship Trust is all about consistent behaviour. People judge us on behaviour not intent. People can’t see our heart but they can see our behaviour.” These 13 Behaviours are;

1. Talk Straight

2. Demonstrate Respect

3. Create Transparency

4. Right Wrongs

5. Show Loyalty

6. Deliver Results

7. Get Better

8. Confront Reality

9. Clarify Expectations

10. Practice Accountability

11. Listen First

12. Keep Commitments

13. Extend Trust

Of the 13th point combined with the others, extending trust “... help(s) you become a trusted leader; this behaviour helps you become a trusting leader. We should extend trust to those who have earned it. Be willing to extend trust to those who are still earning it. Be wise in extending trust to those who have not exemplified a character worth trusting.”

Of “Organisational Trust”, again these are boiled down to simple elements; Taxes and Dividends but these are worth elaborating on. Quoting from the summary, they are;

The 7 Low-Trust Organizational Taxes™

· Redundancy: Redundancy is unnecessary duplication. A costly redundancy tax is often paid in excessive organizational hierarchy with layers of management and overlapping structures designed to ensure control.

· Bureaucracy: Bureaucracy includes complex and cumbersome rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and processes. One estimate put the cost of complying with federal rules and regulations in the U.S. alone at $1.1 trillion more than 10 percent of the GDP.

· Politics: Office politics divide a culture against itself. The result is wasted time, talent, energy, and money. In addition, they poison company cultures, derail strategies and sabotage initiatives, relationships and careers.

· Disengagement: Disengagement occurs when people put in enough effort to avoid getting fired but don’t contribute their talent, creativity, energy or passion. Gallup’s research puts a price tag of $250 billion - $300 billion a year on the cost of disengagement.

· Turnover: Employee turnover represents a huge cost and in low-trust companies, turnover is in excess of the industry standard – particularly of the people you least want to lose. Performers like to be trusted and they like to work in high-trust environments.

· Churn: Churn is the turnover of stakeholders other than employees. When trust inside an organization is low, it gets perpetuated in interactions in the marketplace causing great turnover among customers, suppliers, distributors and investors. Studies indicate the cost of acquiring a new customer versus keeping an existing one is as much as 500 percent.

· Fraud: Fraud is flat out dishonesty, sabotage, obstruction, deception and disruption – and the cost is enormous. One study estimated that the average U.S. company lost 6 percent of its annual revenue to some sort of fraudulent activity.

The 7 High-Trust Organizational Dividends™

· Increased value: Watson Wyatt study shows high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations in total return to shareholders by 286 percent.

· Accelerated growth: Research clearly shows customers buy more, buy more often, refer more and stay longer with companies they trust. And, these companies actually outperform with less cost.

· Enhanced innovation: High creativity and sustained innovation thrive in a culture of high trust. The benefits of innovation are clear – opportunity, revenue growth, and market share.

· Improved collaboration: High-trust environments foster the collaboration and teamwork required for success in the new global economy. Without trust, collaboration is mere coordination, or at best, cooperation.

· Stronger partnering: A Warwick Business School study shows that partnering relationships that are based on trust experience a dividend of up to 40 percent of the contract.

· Better execution: Franklin Covey’s execution quotient tool (xQ) has consistently shown a strong correlation between higher levels of organizational execution and higher levels of trust. In a 2006 study of grocery stores, top executing locations had significantly higher trust levels than lower executing locations in every dimension measured.

· Heightened loyalty: High-trust companies elicit far greater loyalty from their primary stakeholders than low-trust companies. Employees, customers, suppliers, distributors and investors stay longer.

The Trust Tree gives as a sound, simple and easily remembered paradigm of Integrity, Intent, Capabilities and Results to consider our current leaders, who we allocate to tasks, and, more especially, how we develop and choose our future leaders.

Some in commercial leadership and in public life seem motivated to seek leadership positions for personal profit and/or ego. but, again even these are covered by “Intent” in the Trust Tree.

Of course, one critical competent of leadership is judgement. Leaders with poor judgment are likely to lead to disaster rather than success. The ability to make good decisions and then execute on them is critical to a good leader and is just one of many important traits in “Capabilities” but one of the most important capabilities is actually choosing the right leader to lead to tangible and meaningful results which improves the group that leaders lead.

Leadership is meaningless unless it has an objective. It must be remember that leadership is not an objective, it is simply a tool. Sadly, leadership is often presented as an objective itself rather than the pathway to achieve inspirational outcomes. In the context of a Lodge, I often ask Master Elects what their goals are for their lodge, and too often they have not even thought about how they will use their leadership position to improve the organisation they are leading, much less having developed a plan to achieve their goals That’s critical to a Lodge’s success, and using the Trust Tree is an important tool to use in surrounding yourself with the people needed to achieve a clearly defined success plan, whether it be in a lodge, business or in your private life.

Next time your selecting a leader, or subordinates to execute a project, think of how they shape up using the Trust Tree Paradigm.

Trust impacts us 24/7, 365 days a year. It undergirds and affects the quality of every relationship, every communication, every work project, every business venture, every effort in which we are engaged. It changes the quality of every present moment and alters the trajectory and outcome of every future moment of our lives – both personally and professionally

Much of the content of this article is taken from