11 October 2010

The Social Network: "Speed of Trust"...

Corporate Executives that are now back pedaling from the past few years need to reassess their position. The Operational Risks that have been the basis for erosion in the public perception of the company must be attended to with a new management point of view. This new perspective can begin by reading the newest Stephen Covey bestseller, "The Speed of Trust."

The one thing that changes everything as the cover reads is a real understatement. As a CxO you have to examine the degree to which your organization possesses the "4 Cores of Credibility":

Integrity - is deep honesty and truthfulness. It is who we really are. It includes congruence, humility and courage. To increase your integrity, make and keep commitments to yourself. Stand for something and then live by it. Be open. Do you seriously consider other viewpoints?

Intent - is your fundamental motive or agenda and the behavior that follows. It includes motive, agenda and behavior. To improve your intent, examine your motives. Are everyone's interests being served? Share the "why" behind the "what" wherever possible.

Capabilities - is our capacity to produce and accomplish tasks: talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge and style. To build your capabilities run with your strengths. Match your strengths to unique high-value opportunities. Know where you are going and keep the vision in front of you.

Results - is your track record. People evaluate you on three key indicators of performance. Past, current and anticipated. To improve your results take responsibility and adopt a "results" mind-set. Expect to win and create a climate of high expectations. Finish strong and avoid the "victim mentality."

Trust in a relationship and an environment of trust in the economy, national security or the stock market makes all the difference. The behaviors that you exhibit in public and behind closed doors with your stakeholders will set the tone for everyone inside and outside the organization. Can you think of any companies or people over the past two years that you have lost trust in?

Stephen Covey goes on to explore the 13 behaviors that we all need to be more aware of in the way people perceive us and our companies. These are all important items that we have all heard before yet are worth the time to explore again and more deeply at this stage of our economic recovery. Everything we do should be looked upon from a "Trust Lens" so that we take the time to ascertain how a particular behavior may have an impact on someones perception of you.

  • A halt in home foreclosures at the largest U.S. mortgage firms may sideline buyers worried about legal issues, further depressing sales at a time when distressed properties account for almost a quarter of all transactions.
  • Today's launch is not just about mobile phones, it's about the future of Microsoft as a business in the 21st century. Windows Phone7 isn't just a mobile platform; it's officially Microsoft's last, best chance for relevance in the post-desktop computing world.
  • The 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months are arguing about who comes up to the surface last.

It does not matter where or what is going on in the news the perceptions are being formed on the fly in our respective mind views. Depending on how the headline reads could influence even whether you decide to read an entire story that is unfolding before you.

Operational Risk Management that is effective in the enterprise begins with building trust and integrity. If you are a private company, do you have an "Ethics" 800 number that allows employees to report anonymous tips on infractions on company policy or observations of malfeasance? If you do, this could be the first sign that the tone at the top means business when it comes to "Walking the Talk" on trust and integrity.

Perhaps Covey has the title wrong. Maybe it should be "The Quality of Trust" to emphasize that even making decisions too quickly to shore up confidence or to try and create the perception of trust can be devastating. Acting too quickly has it's risks. I wonder if Mr. Sorkin understands the impact his short sighted screenplay of "The Social Network" will have on those people who really don't know the truth about Facebook:

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin admits he was more interested in a great yarn than an accurate one, telling New York magazine, "What is the big deal about accuracy purely for accuracy's sake, and can we not have the true be the enemy of the good?" But to understand how innovation actually happens on the Web, Mr. Zuckerberg's alleged emotional motivations are much less interesting than how he attracted more than 500 million people—one in 14 people in the world—to use this six-year-old service.

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