Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


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Trust

The recent theme at Lead on Purpose is trust. This focus has come primarily from reading The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey. He discusses the concept of building a trust account, which is similar to a bank account. By behaving in ways that build trust you make deposits, by behaving in ways that destroy trust you make withdrawals. The ‘balance’ in the account reflects the amount of trust you have at any given time. You have a unique trust account with every person you know, and all deposits and withdrawals are not created equal.

Trust is built or destroyed by behaviors. Covey teaches 13 Behaviors of high-trust people and leaders worldwide. These behaviors will increase trust and improve your ability to interact effectively with people in every aspect of your life. Here are the behaviors that will help you build trust:
  1. Talk Straight: Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand.
  2. Demonstrate Respect: Genuinely care for others. Respect the dignity of every person and every role.
  3. Create Transparency: Tell the truth in a way people can verify. Get real and genuine. Be open and authentic.
  4. Right Wrongs: Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible.
  5. Show Loyalty: Give credit to others. Speak about people as if they were present. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves.
  6. Deliver Results: Establish a track record of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen.
  7. Get Better: Continuously improve. Increase your capabilities. Be a constant learner.
  8. Confront Reality: Take issues head on, even the “undiscussables.” Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid.
  9. Clarify Expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible.
  10. Practice Accountability: Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for results.
  11. Listen First: Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears…and your eyes and heart.
  12. Keep Commitments: Say what you’re going to do, then do it. Make commitments carefully and keep them at all costs.
  13. Extend Trust: Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.
Mastering the 13 behaviors requires a combination of character and competence. You can (and should) work to improve your abilities in each of these areas. Focus on the ones you consider to be your weaknesses and take the attitude that you will improve. Building trust is not something that happens overnight. As Warren Buffet said: “It takes twenty years to build your reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”


Study these principles, then master them. Study Covey’s book and practice the principles he so eloquently teaches. Every aspect of your life will improve.

The Product Management Perspective: Trust is the most important characteristic a product manager can possess. To effectively work with development, sales and other teams in your organization you must gain their trust. Trust is key to understanding your customers and your market. Trust is a two-way street: you need to carry out your tasks in such a way that the team members will trust you. You also need to trust that the team members will do what they have committed to do. The 13 behaviors listed above provide an excellent roadmap to developing and extending trust with others.


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Trust in business

One of the things I’m finding as I continue to read The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey is the abundance of leadership quotes he has included in the book. They give excellent insight into the importance trust plays in your success. The following quote points out the importance of trust in business:

You can’t have success without trust. The word trust embodies almost everything you can strive for that will help you to succeed. You tell me any human relationship that works without trust, whether it is a marriage or a friendship or a social interaction; in the long run, the same thing is true about business, especially businesses that deal with the public.

Jim Burke, former Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson


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Trust – the key to success

One of the five factors of leadership, the tag ‘trust’ has become a hallmark of the Lead on Purpose blog. The act of trusting others and trusting yourself is vital success.

The Speed of TrustYesterday I received a copy of The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey. I had listened to a podcast and read positive reviews about the book, so I was happy to receive a copy. I say “receive” because a friend of mine gave me the book with a personalized autograph from the author. As I started looking through it the first thing I noticed was the large number of reviews. As I began reading them it didn’t take me long to realize the power of this book. The book has 11 pages of reviews by 65 well-known, successful people. Though I have not yet started reading the book, just reading the reviews provided great insight on trust. Following are a few reviews that stand out and provide significant food for thought:

“Trust reduces transaction costs; it reduces the need for litigation and speeds commerce; it actually lubricates organizations and societies. At last, someone is articulating its true value and presenting it as a core business competency.” —Marilyn Carlson Nelson

“Collaboration is the foundation of the standard of living we enjoy today. Trust is the glue. This is the first book that teaches the ‘whats’ and the ‘hows’ of trust.” —Ram Charan

“After you turn off the projector, quit PowerPoint, and end your pitch, most deals come down to a simple question: Do you trust each other? This book is a valuable and timely explanation of how to trust and be trusted.” —Guy Kawasiaki

“Good leaders know where they are going. Followers trust it’s the right direction. Without trust, you get nowhere.” —Jack Trout

“Everything in marketing points to the reality that the profitable companies are those that have earned the confidence of their public. Confidence cannot be overestimated.” —Jay Conrad Levinson

“If you want to speed forward to wealth, you have to have unconditional trust to maximize earnings. This great book will tell you how.” —Mark Victor Hansen

“Lack of trust within an organization saps its energy, fosters a climate of suspicion and second-guessing, completely devastates teamwork and replaces it with internal politics. The end result is low morale and the consequent low standards of performance.” —Koh Boon Hwee

“The most important element in any relationship, business or personal, is trust and credibility.” —Brian Tracy

“Why are you reading the blurbs in this book? Simple, because you trust (a few of) us. Trust drives everything in our nonbranded, too-fast world. So trust this: This is an important book. The younger Covey has written a book that matters.” —Seth Godin

Trust provides the foundation on which you build solid relationships. Trust is something we give, and something we receive. Trust tethers us to others with whom we can achieve success. I am eagerly looking forward to reading my copy of The Speed of Trust.


The Product Management Perspective: Trust is vital for product managers. The people they depend on for the success of their products do not (usually) report to them; therefore, product managers need to do everything in their power to gain the their trust and keep their confidence. Trust goes both ways: product managers need to carry out their tasks in such a way that the team members can trust them. They also need to trust that the team members will do what they have committed to do.