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Success Story Podcast

Stephen M. R. Covey – Bestselling Author & Keynote Speaker | How to Trust and Inspire

By August 15, 2022July 17th, 2023No Comments

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About The Guest

Stephen M. R. Covey is a New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The SPEED of Trust—The One Thing That Changes Everything. He is the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which, under his stewardship, became the largest leadership development company in the world. Stephen led the strategy that propelled his father’s book, Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to become one of the two most influential business books of the 20th Century, according to CEO Magazine.

As President and CEO of Covey Leadership Center, Stephen nearly doubled revenues while increasing profits by 12 times. During that period, the company expanded worldwide into over 40 countries, significantly increasing the brand’s and enterprise’s value. The company was valued at $2.4 million when Stephen was named CEO, and, within three years, he had grown shareholder value to $160 million in a merger he orchestrated with Franklin Quest to form FranklinCovey.

Stephen co-founded CoveyLink, a consulting practice, which focuses on enabling leaders and organizations to increase and leverage trust to achieve superior performance.

Stephen recently merged CoveyLink with FranklinCovey, forming the Global Speed of Trust Practice, where Stephen serves as Global Practice Leader.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 03:50 — Stephen M. R. Covey’s origin story
  • 09:23 — “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, how has this book remained influential to date?
  • 13:54 — Carving his own path in the FranklinCovey Association
  • 20:45 — Where does leadership lie today?
  • 26:30 — How to inspire your employees
  • 33:22 — Maintaining your company and managing through leadership
  • 36:37 — What does a perfect “trust culture organization” look like?
  • 40:28 — How to hire and manage the right team
  • 47:25 — How does Stephen define modeling?
  • 53:17 — Where can people connect with Stephen M. R. Covey?
  • 58:25 — Biggest challenge Stephen has overcome in his personal life
  • 59:30 — What keeps Stephen up at night?
  • 1:00:38 — Stephen M. R. Covey’s mentor
  • 1:01:49 — A book or podcast recommended by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • 1:03:18 — What would Stephen tell his 20-year-old self?
  • 1:04:18 — What does success mean to Stephen M. R. Covey?

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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.


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Machine Generated Transcript


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Stephen M. R. Covey, Scott D Clary


Scott D Clary  00:00

Welcome to success story the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the blue wire podcast network, as well as the HubSpot Podcast Network. Now, the HubSpot Podcast Network has other incredible podcasts like the salesmen podcast hosted by wil Baron. Now if you work in sales, or you want to learn how to sell or peek at the latest in sales news, check out the salesmen podcast where host will bear and help sales professionals learn how to find buyers and win big business in effective and ethical ways. Now, if some of these topics resonate with you, you’re going to love the salesman podcast, the psychology of the perfect cold call successful cold email trends for 2022 The four step process to influencing buying decisions, or the digital sales room the future of b2b sales. If these topics hit home, you’re gonna love the salesmen podcast listen to the salesmen podcast wherever you get your podcasts. Today, my guest is Stephen Mr. Covey. He is a New York Times and number one Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of The Speed of Trust. The one thing that changes everything as well as he is the author of the brand new book trust and inspire how truly great leaders unleash greatness in others. He is the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which under his stewardship became the largest leadership development company in the world. Stephen personally led the strategy that propelled his father’s book, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it become one of the most influential business books of the 20th century, according to CEO magazine, as well as according to the fact that millions of copies have been sold globally in multiple languages. Now, what do we speak about today? Well, since he has taken on the mantle, he’s become CEO of the Franklin Covey organization, and he’s grown the organization to the extent and the the influence that it has today. He has focused on additional leadership qualities that help create successful organizations leadership qualities that he has pulled out from his own experience, as well as some of the incredible companies that Franklin Covey has worked with many Fortune 500 many Fortune 100 fortune 1000 As all the way to start up, he’s worked with a ton. And we spoke about the main things that impact organizations, we spoke about trust and inspiration, and how, as a leader of a person, or a team or an organization, you have to focus on unlocking trust and inspiration in your team. So we spoke about how to build a culture of trust and inspiration, what a high trust culture looks like, we spoke about how to hire the right people. So we’re great at hiring for competency, but how do we hire for all the other things that allow that person to be successful and to contribute to a culture of high trust culture, a high inspiration culture, we spoke about how the traditional command and control model of leadership is no longer a viable leadership strategy. Even though 90% of organizations still use this type of leadership strategy. We spoke about the importance of modeling, high EQ, high self awareness within an organization. And then because he’s worked with some of the most exceptional businesses in the world, he brought out some case studies and examples of businesses that are building high trust, high inspiration, and highly effective and profitable businesses. Let’s jump right into it. This is Stephen M. R. Covey. He is the CEO of the covey leadership organization as well as a multiple best selling author.


Stephen M. R. Covey  03:51

I think back of about that, when I was getting out of business school, just gotten my MBA and I had a couple of different opportunities, as I think back of about that when I was getting out of business school, just gotten on my MBA and I had a couple of different opportunities as to you know, what I wanted to do where I wanted to go and and one was to work on Wall Street. I’d done that the prior summer and very exciting. You know, at a summer job in between years of business school got offered to go full time and that was really enticing because Wall Street was so exciting big deals and stuff like that. So that was one opportunity. Another was with the company I’d been with prior Trammell Crow Company, which was in real estate development, great national real estate developer building big office buildings and and I’m doing it all around the country. Very exciting work, building these buildings and and I’ve done that before business school really liked it a lot and done well and so That was enticing. So kind of these two mainstream, exciting opportunities went on Wall Street when real estate development and then another was to join with my father and a little teeny company at the time called Stephen R. Covey and Associates, it became the covey Leadership Center and but didn’t have very many people was kind of small and just starting up and and so I kind of debating and you know, to any outsider looking at this is kind of like, what I don’t understand what’s your decision point, you know, I clearly roll it out, roll out this last one that’s just a little that’s what’s your dad a little small company. But you got this big Wall Street opportunity, this big real estate one and and I remember going back and forth, back and forth. And finally I kind of narrowed it down to between the going back to Trammell Crow company in the real estate development, or doing this with the covey Leadership Center. And, and which was maybe I think, what 1520 People at the time. And, and I remember, it came down to thinking about this. And, and, and I was a little reluctant to join up, you know, with my father kind of wanting to go out on my own, do my own thing, prove my own worth type of thing. But at the same time, I was intrigued, because my father had yet to launch a new book that I knew was coming out, called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And I thought this is going to be big, I’d seen it connect with people, I knew it was going to work. And I thought this could have a real impact on a lot of people. And that was yet to happen. And I thought I could be a part of this and could help guide it. And, and but I still was debating, you know, this other is more mainstream or exciting in terms of, of, you know, prestige and the like. And then my father asked me a question, he said, Okay, Steven, you go wherever you want to go. But here’s my question for you. Do you want to build buildings? Or do you want to build people and, and that was an exciting framing to me, because I liked building buildings, I thought what we were doing was really exciting. But the idea of building people was really, what was deep in my heart and saw was developing people, developing people developing leaders. And I said, you know, what, I didn’t want to develop people and develop leaders, which for me, represented kind of my why there’s nothing wrong with developing buildings, and building buildings, because that’s also can be a very valuable thing. It just wasn’t my highest sense of contribution and purpose and meaning. So I said, you know, what I do I want to build people. So I went down that path and, and long story made short is six months after joining, we launched the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People book and that really kind of just took off. And the business took off in the covey Leadership Center really got established not only United States, but all around the world. And today is as Franklin Covey operates in 150 countries around the world leadership development in among the largest in the in the world, at what we do. And so, I was kind of an exciting moment in time in which I kind of got a sense of what really was my why. And my purpose, and I was not as clear about it, then as I am now, but the idea of building people is really what intrigued me and it tapped into a sense of purpose and meaning and contribution. So I went down that path. And then along the way down a lot of other things that I wanted to say, including my message on trust, and now this idea of trust and inspire, and, and really the whole idea of trying to bring out the best in others. So that’s kind of a roundabout way of getting to where I ended up on the path that I am. I’m on, you know, focusing on right now. Leadership Development, and you know, with his new book, trust and inspire how truly great leaders unleash greatness and others. That was this, that was the initial starting point, decided deck a lot of people


Scott D Clary  09:24

amazing. And I think it’s interesting that you you chose that path, and I’m happy that you did because now you look where the organization as has come to and what it’s achieved. Now, I’m going to ask a quick question about the history then we’re gonna go into the future. So first Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Why has that book and those lessons remained so influential? How has that sort of transcended all the different change the disruption, the change in how we work, the change in how we hire and train and onboard and even like the personal change and what we hold dear because this book was This book was when was this book released 9989. So now we’re 2022. And it is still, it’s still it’s on my shelf, it was the first book that was given to me by one of my CEOs when I joined a company. So why do you think it’s stayed so influential and remain so influential?


Stephen M. R. Covey  10:18

I think there’s several reasons, I’ll just highlight three of them first, I think it’s because it’s focused on principles that are timeless, that endure, as opposed to just practices or, or techniques that, you know, my ebb and flow and go in and out with different types. Now, these are enduring principles of effectiveness that worked in 1989, that work in 2022, and will work in 2130 22, I believe, because they’re fundamental principles of effectiveness, integrity, and fairness, and, and trust and, and enduring principles, you know, serve as contribution, these types of things. So that’s the first reason a second is, because Seven Habits is really about moving from the inside out, as opposed to kind of saying, Well, the problem is out there, it’s everybody else. It’s saying, What can I do, let’s look in the mirror, I work from the inside out, and take responsibility and own it. And that is empowering to everybody. No matter where we stand, there’s, there’s, we can do things in our circle of influence, and have that grow and expand. And so that’s, it’s so South empowering to people of, you know, how they can engage in these principles and take responsibility for themselves for their lives. And, and that gives you a sense of, of clarity and power in a world of change and disruption. And people want and seek that they have a sense of, here’s what I can do, within my circle of influence in a large that. And I think that that is self empowering. And finally, I think that I liked how Jim Collins put it the author of Good to Great, he wrote a foreword for my dad’s book that is being used today. And in it, he said, he talked about how, how the internet really was created in the late 60s, but didn’t really gain popularity or usage until the mid 90s. And, and because it was so complex, and so cumbersome. And it wasn’t until there was a user interface, a browser that happened with Netscape and others in the in the 90s, that made this made the internet accessible, usable, because it needed a user interface. And then he said that these principles of effectiveness have been out there for, you know, for centuries. But what my father did in the seven habits was create the equivalent of a, of a human effectiveness, user interface, a browser that brought them together, together and made them accessible, practical, tangible, actionable, that we could get our arms around, of these universal principles that were existing. For a long time, he didn’t create the principles, he just created a user interface of human effectiveness that made this accessible. And that’s what the seven habits he has. And he has a good analogy for why it’s so useful and so practical. The idea that, you know, private victories precede public victories and, and, you know, be proactive, begin with into mind put first things first, just a really a practical way of applying and implementing these universal principles that have been out there. So that’s the idea behind the seven habits. And I think it’s really one of the main reasons why it’s so useful and valuable to people even today. And I think it will be 30 years from now, and 100 years from now as well.


Scott D Clary  13:54

So, we obviously know that this book has become almost like a like a Bible for people that are going to business and going to leadership and trying to upskill and level up themselves. So your dad did some really incredible work. Now you come into the organization, you’re trying to carve your own path, I’m sure that’s a little bit daunting to say the least because you know the name you know, the the book that’s been put out that’s been purchased millions and millions of times translated into different languages. So now, you’re trying to carve your own path and the Franklin Covey Association, an organization. So these habits are effective for people and in leadership positions are not in leadership positions, even though one could argue that every physician should be some sort of leadership position, whether or not you’re managing the team or managing your peers. But when you look to teach and and and inspire and give over new insight to the next generation of leaders, how did you carve your path? How did you figure out what more you could add on what hasn’t been taught yet or what could be added onto or taught even better? because that’s what you’ve been doing over the past. I don’t want to put a number on next. I don’t want to age you, but you’ve been doing it for a considerable amount of time. So where did you choose to go? What did you choose to develop and learn and explore? And this is obviously what you’re taking to the world now. Yeah.


Stephen M. R. Covey  15:13

Yeah. Well, let me tell you how it happened, I see that I’ve had two major career x. And the first act was when I joined, I focused on helping build the covey Leadership Center, build my father’s work. And Scott, almost by choice, and by design, I felt like I’m gonna focus on the business side of this. And I’m gonna try to help build this company into a sustainable business. And then during business and go from, you know, Stephen R Covey, the man into Covey Leadership Center, the firm, the company and become bigger than just my dad. So that so that it could outlive my dad, and could do all kinds of things and influence people all around the world. And we had to create a business model. And I felt like with my MBA and my business orientation, and mindset, that I couldn’t be a real contributor to doing that. So I became our CEO. And we had to figure out a business model. You know, we had a good value proposition that so we were growing, but we hadn’t figured out a good business model yet to make sure it was profitable growth and was sustainable. And we had to kind of work through that. And I felt like that, that’s where I can make a contribution. And also, candidly, Scott, I was a little bit it was daunting, having my father’s name. And, you know, Stephen, Mr. Covey, he, Stephen R, Covey, just just when different middle initial, and, and, and I felt like no matter what I do, it’s not going to measure up to what he could do. So I felt safer to say I’ll go down the business path. But in fairness, to me, I also felt I had unique gifts and competencies that could contribute well to the business side of this, and that the company really needed the business side. So I went down that path. And that was the first half of my career at one, if you will, and we did really well. And we turn this into a business, they became a global business. And we became very profitable. And we began to impact people in organizations all around the world. Then we did a merger with Franklin quest. This is the former cubby Leadership Center, merging with Franklin quest to foreign Franklin Covey. And it was coming out of that merger, as we you know, like any merger, we had our ups and downs and struggles. And that because we had been arch competitors now coming together, and we had to figure out how to do it, we did took a little bit of time, but we figured it out. And, and I realized in this process, the importance of trust, how trust changed everything. When we first merged, we didn’t trust each other, we’re kind of two separate companies with different, you know, different vantage points, viewpoints coming in. Because we’d been competitors, we didn’t have trust, I saw how everything slowed down, took longer, cost, more got politicized. And then we became aware of this, that we’re not achieving our potential because we don’t trust each other fully. We began to work on this, we began to behave our way into greater trust, we built it intentionally. On purpose, we worked at it, we built high trust, suddenly, we could do everything better, faster, more creativity, more innovation, more engagement, more commitment, everything went up. And I saw firsthand, the high the high return of high trust, as I had seen the high cost of low trust prior in the first part of the merger. And I came out of this. So inspired around the idea of it, trust matters, it changes everything. Trust is learnable movable, because we just moved from low trust to high trust, and that, that this was a real area of contribution that I could create. And I suddenly felt like, I found what I want to say. And I think all the business background that I’d done from a First Act gave me credibility. To go into the second act of saying the highest leverage thing a leader can do is to build a high truss team in high trust culture, because of how that changes everything. And I’ve learned how to do it. And we’ve learned how to do it and we can help others do the same. And that became what my really is, I feel like my life’s work. What I’m doing now, the importance of building high trust teams, high trust cultures, as a true differentiator and competitive advantage for any organization and for any leader. And so I came out with my book, The Speed of Trust. The one thing that changes everything, and now this new book, trust and inspire how truly great leaders unleash greatness in others through building high trust team nitrous cultures, and by inspiring people and so I found my voice in the very act of kind of leading the business. And then once I found that I didn’t worry or care about



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Stephen M. R. Covey  21:04

out comparison with my father, because I was proud of my father, I was delighted to be part of his legacy, I felt a sense of stewardship, and responsibility. And and once I found my voice around trust, I felt like I’m going to just do this and not worry about about anything, you know, being a poor man’s version of my father, because that didn’t matter to me, I felt like I found something of value to say that could make a difference in the lives of leaders in organizations. And so I’ve gone down that path. And it’s been this is act two. And it’s been exciting. And, and I feel like I’ve made a real difference in the contribution, at least I hope that I have Scott. And


Scott D Clary  21:47

I know, I was gonna say I think that what you’re trying to solve for are the most difficult things to solve foreign leadership. And if we look at one of the points that you make you spoken about the unpassed, past podcast and your book as well, we’re migrating from this traditional command and control model, which actually, it’s unfortunate. But when you’re in a command and control model, you don’t actually need a ton of trust, because people are just you say do this, and they say yes. And you say do that they say so there may be internally they don’t trust your decisions. But ultimately, they’re still going to do what you’re telling them to do. Which is not again, this is not a sustainable business model, we see it more and more. So if we look at the future of ml. First, I’d actually just like to get your opinion on where leadership actually lies right now to date in 2022. What are the observations that you see about businesses? Do you still see businesses trying to succeed with a traditional command and control model? Or do you see that being a business strategy and a leadership strategy that is going away very quickly,


Stephen M. R. Covey  22:52

both. It’s still, in spite of all our progress, we’re still trapped a bit in the old command and control model, we become better at it, though, more sophisticated, more advanced, I call it enlightened, command and control. So it’s a lot better version of it. But still, we’re deeply scripted, in our mindset in our paradigm, that we too often still treat people like things just a more sophisticated, advanced enlightened version of it. So I call it enlightened command control, and the data shows it still that nine out of 10 organizations are still in some version of enlightened command and control, or some version of command and control. But to your point, and you referenced this, they’re recognizing that is not working anymore, and is certainly not going to work with this new generation of workers of Gen Z. And it’s not working very well with millennials. And, and, and, and that, that this new world of work requires a new way to lead. And the old model, the old command control isn’t going to work that, like you said that that’s operated not on trust, but on, on fear, and on on position. And you know what, people have choices and options today. And people want a sense of meaning and purpose and contribution. When they want to matter. People want to be trusted. They want to be inspired. And the old model, even the Enlightened version of it to command and control doesn’t inspire you don’t go to high trust cultures, and inspire people through command and control. You can’t collaborate and innovate through command and control. So we need a new way to lead in the new world. And I call it trust and inspire. And so I think that is the future of leadership. I think we are moving from command and control to trust and inspire. And we’re in that process of moving and I think we’re further along in our in what we’re saying and then what we’re doing. We’re saying we need to move to the equivalent of trust and inspire but our practices In our systems and our structures are still too much caught in the old model of, of command and control. But we’re recognizing for the first time, this is not working very well. And it hasn’t for some time, and we need to shift. So we need to become equally clear not only where we’re moving from command and control, but where we’re moving toward. And I’m calling it trashing aspire, you model you trust, you inspire that is the new way to lead. In our new world. It’s what Satya Nadella has done at Microsoft. You know, he came in and instill the growth mindset he modeled he trusted he inspired. And, and, and they call it modeling, coaching, caring. And they moved, they really revitalized the organization at a time when, you know, they still were big, but they were becoming less relevant, less innovative, less impactful, and revitalize the organization through his leadership style. You know, what Cheryl Bachelder did at Popeye’s to completely revitalize the organization through leadership style, unleashing the greatness the potential inside of people to this style of leadership that saw the greatness inside of people and unleashed it. That’s the kind of leadership that’s needed today. And that’s where we’re going, that’s where we need to go. But you know what, we’re still in that process of getting there. And we need examples meant models and mentors, of leaders that can help us do this and we need to become those kinds of leaders. To help us get there.


Scott D Clary  26:31

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Stephen M. R. Covey  29:05

Yeah, well, I love how you framed it, Scott, because you’re exactly right, that the high trust culture is half of it. The high trust culture that inspires that inspiration is the other half. And you need both halfs in our world today, to differentiate to make a difference to to be the kind of organization and place where people feel like they can, where they’re trusted, and the work they do matters and makes a difference and they want to make a difference. And so how do you inspire? Well, first of all, let me say this that I think you’ve identified, you know, to use the, the Wayne Gretzky metaphor, where he was asked what makes you so great at hockey and he says, I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it’s been before it to where it’s going to be, I think in leadership, the puck so to speak, where things are going is towards inspiration Shouldn’t inspiration. And and I think inspiration is actually the new engagement, the next frontier of engagement, we’ve been focused on engagement for the last 20 years. And it’s a good thing, I’m not going to downplay and engagement, it’s vital to engage people so that they add that discretionary effort that they’re giving. That’s a good thing, we need to continue to move towards engagement. But here’s another frontier. Another level that’s inspiration, even beyond engagement. And there’s actually a study from Bain and Company that shows that inspired employees are yes, 125% more productive than merely satisfied employees. And you might expect that, you know, satisfying, it’s not enough, but they’re even 56% more productive than engaged employees. So another frontier level that we can reach when people feel inspired. And the inspiration is to inspire comes from the Latin term in spirometry. It means to breathe life into. So you breathe life, into relationships into teams and organizations into culture, you light the fire that’s within people, it’s internal, its intrinsic, it’s inside of them. So the motivation is external is extrinsic. So you motivate people with carrot and stick. That’s, that can come out of command and control. And it’s not a bad thing, per se. It’s just that you’re trying to move people through carrots or sticks, to try to move people to do things. Inspiration is internal is intrinsic, it’s inside of people, you’re trying to light the fire within and let that fire burn. And, you know, doesn’t need constant in mood, new incentives, new stimuli thrown at it, it can live on. And if you can ignite that fire that’s inside of people that can burn on for years. And that’s a higher level that we’re trying to achieve to tap into the desire for purpose for meaning for contribution. I think that’s where things are going towards inspiration to be inspired, had that fire lit within. I’ll give you an example of this. I was I went and worked with the Pepperdine University, beautiful University in Southern California. And here’s their I worked with Jim gash, their president and their cabinet and their team. They said today, the School of Business, they’re the Graziadio School of Business. They establish a purpose that people really feel a sense of connection to that inspires them. And they, and they phrase it this way, that, that our purpose is not to develop leaders who are best in the world. Our purpose is to develop leaders who are best for the world, best for the world leaders need to be best for the world, you got to also be pretty good in the world to see that you know, so it’s not saying it’s not either or it’s an ad. But the overarching purpose is contribution to make a difference to matter best for the world leaders. And imagine what that does to inspire the professor’s, the fact that the staff, the janitor, anyone working there, feels like I’m part of developing best for the world leaders. And tap into that sense of purpose and meaning and contribution as we want to do. So that you know, tapping into that. That sense of purpose matters. But I think it’s even possible to inspire people, when we do it through caring, as a leader that you care, you connect with people through caring, and a sense of belonging, as well as connecting people to purpose, meaning and contribution. So it can be grand in the sense of there’s purpose, meaning and contribution, but it also can be micro in the sense of just my, my immediate supervisor, my colleague, my peer, they care about me, I feel this sense of caring, and that inspires me, I feel a sense of belonging. And that inspires me. And every one of us as leaders can do that everyone can inspire is a learnable Sybil skill, through a sense of caring, and purpose as well as connecting people, Jimmy a sense of caring and belonging, as well as connecting people to purpose and a meaning. That’s the idea is learnable it’s not just for the charismatic, everyone can inspire so learnable skill.


Scott D Clary  34:26

Yeah, I was gonna say it’s, you know, like sometimes some of the points that you’re bringing up, it’s not just for a leader who is a charismatic, evangelical, first class on stage public speaker, when you’re talking the things you’re talking about. If we unpack them a step further, there’s sort of two things that I pulled out from that. So you have an organization that has clear purpose, mission, culture, and they actually focus focus on making sure that the the mission statement on the website is more than just the mission statement on the website is something that the whole company believes in via into maybe even ads into. But then you also have at a leadership level and individual level, you have people that are just being very high EQ, empathetic individuals caring for each other. So it’s something that permeates all the way throughout the entire organization. And that’s what I guess you’re saying, when somebody’s living and breathing that every single day. That’s what actually gets them to go the whatever the 125% or whatever that number was. Yeah. Is that correct? Okay.


Stephen M. R. Covey  35:28

Absolutely. That’s it. It’s, it’s that simple and that difficult. Yes. I love. You know, your point is, this is not just for the charismatic, I think too often, we’ve equated inspiration with charisma, thinking you got to be this charismatic soul to inspire people. But think about it, Scott, I bet you’re like me, i and i bet our listeners and viewers feel the same. I know people, some people who are very charismatic, but who aren’t necessarily inspiring, because it’s all about them. And you know, they might be charismatic, but I don’t know if that inspires me. I know other people who no one would necessarily describe as charismatic, but who are extremely inspiring, because of who they are, how they care how they connect, how what they do matters. So let’s separate charisma and inspiration. And everyone can inspire you named it, you inspire when you connect with people through caring through a sense of belonging, and then you inspire when you connect people to purpose, to meaning, and to contribution, like Pepperdine University is doing and others are doing. And we can learn to do that as leaders in both France and if all you do as a leader, if all you do is focus on caring for others, caring for people caring for those that your cert, empathy, compassion, showing that that actually will inspire them, when they sense that you care for them. And, and I like how Maya Angelou put it the great poet, so our civil rights advocate champion, she said, people, I’ve learned that people will forget what you say they’ll even forget what you do. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel. And when you have a sense of caring, that people feel, and a sense of belonging, and inspires, like, like almost nothing else. And that that will move the needle and we can learn to do that.


Scott D Clary  37:42

Now we’ve Okay, so now we’ve sort of understood, and we’ve clarified how organizations can better inspire, but take it back to something that you have been highly focused on. Even in your first book, I want to just unpack trust a little bit more. So what does the perfect trust culture organization look like?


Stephen M. R. Covey  38:03

You see it manifest in the behaviors, you know, people, they talk straight, in a way that also demonstrates respect. So it’s gonna it’s a, it’s kind of a rare balance, a unique balance, straight talk with respect, because you can be too much straight talk where it’s offensive, you have too much respect where no one wants to kind of tell the truth because they don’t want to offend. So, you know, you gotta be high and straight talk and high and demonstrating respect. You see transparency everywhere. If people make a mistake, the owner they write the wrong people. People are loyal to each other meaning they speak about people as if they were present. So they have a concern or issue, they go to the person, instead of going behind their back. You see people taking responsibility, and owning results up, you see people confronting the reality and take things head on versus kind of skirting that or evading that kicking the can down the road. People are always clarifying expectations, and then holding themselves accountable to those expectations. They hold themselves accountable first. So they can hold others accountable. Second, you see people listening first, and then demonstrating respect for what they hear. You see people keeping the commitments that they make. And then you see people also extending the trust not only being trustworthy, but being trusting. Now I just went through a series of behaviors 13 of them that you see manifest and high trust teams, high trust cultures, and low trust teams, low trust cultures is kind of the contrast the opposite of or the counterfeit, where people rather than talking straight, they’re spinning everything. And rather than demonstrate respect, respect to everyone they show respect to some but not others. Rather than being transparent. They operate with hidden agenda. So yeah, they’re partly open but they have another agenda behind it. And, and they often sweet talk people to their face, but then bad mouthing behind their back. And, and they often get trapped in activity traps of producing the activity but not necessarily the result. Maybe they confront issues, but then they’re only giving lip service to it because they’re still kicking the can down the road. Or maybe they’re pointing the finger and blaming people, instead of practicing accountability only taking responsibility. Maybe they listen, but not with the intent to understand they listen instead with the intent to reply, and they often over promised, and then under deliver, and then the trust that they extend maybe isn’t a deep trust. And so it’s, it feels shallow, and, and circumstantial. And so, you know, a variety of different counterfeit things that get in the way of a high trust culture. And so I think you’re really looking at the behavior that gets manifest and, and I find, you know, I just take, practicing accountability, owning it, and leaders owning it versus finger pointing, and, you know, playing the blame game, and I can go into culture. And if I see, I can almost tell by that behavior alone, how much blame game is going on. Now, it’s finger pointing, and tell you a lot about the level of trust inside of that team inside of that culture. So look at the behavior. That’s, that’s, you know, what the fly on the wall would see not just what they say, but what they do.


Scott D Clary  41:32

And at one point in that, even before we started, we spoke about how important it is to be able to hire the right people. Well, the culture that you’re discussing, is filled with the right people. And now you going in as a leadership consultant, you probably go into existing cultures, where maybe you have a mishmash of the people that exude and do have the right traits, the high trust traits, the people that are really good people that naturally do these things. You have a lot of people that maybe also don’t. So this is going to be a two part question. So the first part, and then I’ll go into this, the first part is how do you hire when you’re hiring these people? How do you figure out that this is the person that has all of these traits? And then I’m going to ask, if you already have a team, what are the things that somebody could do to maybe move in the right direction and try and be a slightly better person, but say, You’re a founder, you’re early stage CEO, you’re hiring a team from the ground up? I don’t know how to find these people. I don’t know what questions to ask in an interview, how do you figure out so that you can find these high trust people that will actually add on to the culture and build this incredible high trust environment?


Stephen M. R. Covey  42:36

Yeah, we want to do is you’re trying to hire for both a combination of competence, which we’re pretty good at, but also have character, which we’re not quite as good at doing so that you can you know that you want to make sure we hire people at both competence and character, we’ve become very good at hiring for competence, looking at the skills needed in the like, but we need to become equally good at hiring for character. So that has kind of two halves, the integrity, half the intent half. And the integrity half. You know, we’re looking for people that demonstrate integrity, even when it’s difficult. So you might ask questions, like, can you describe a situation where maybe you were in an environment or a circumstance where you’re trying to get a result in an outcome, but it required to get that result or outcome to achieve what you needed to do? It required you to maybe either violate, or go to the very extreme of the, you know, values that you believe in, that you stood for, where you felt really kind of maybe close to becoming compromised, or maybe actually becoming compromised, if you ever had that type of opportunity. And maybe, maybe no one has, but maybe someone has where they were, they ultimately decided that they were going to be true to the value even if it didn’t, it meant that they didn’t deliver the result. And and so that you can kind of see, when there’s a test of integrity, do you still do the right thing? Or do you kind of go along with the flow and, you know, everyone else is doing it? So, you know, like Warren Buffett said, the five more the five most dangerous words in business, everybody else is doing it. But you might be violating principles or values or you know, what your standards are ethics of some sort, just because everyone else is doesn’t mean you should. So you’re trying to assess some measure of that. And other on the on the, on the intent side is is is maybe describe a situation where where you’re trying to see how they work together with others, you know, plays well with others and works well so that you can see, is there a focus of me I need mine or is it of we the team and mutual benefits and and and bringing people together teams together. And you know, it’s we not I, and it’s mutual benefit, not self serving and, and your you know, how you would ask it would depend upon your context or situation, you’re trying to describe, you know, do behavioral interviewing, describe a situation where you tried to come up with an outcome that was better for everyone, not just for yourself. And or another way of asking this is to try to get into areas of vulnerability of, you know, an transparency of, you know, can you describe situations where, where you felt inadequate or short of what needed to happen where you didn’t have the answers and how you handle that. And if people respond with a well, I’ve never felt inadequate, never felt shortchanged. And I always had the competence know, they might be putting on a sense of I got to show strength as a leader, when in fact, perhaps the greatest show of strength is that you are vulnerable, and that you didn’t have the answers in a situation. And you said to the team, I don’t have the answer. So let’s try to create these together. And here’s how we’ll do this. And this is why I need you and why I trust you, because you’re better at this than I am it know, having knowledge in this area. And I’m not threatened by that. I see that as a strength. And you’re looking for demonstrations of this, this, this transparency, this openness as vulnerability. It’s interesting, Scott, I was with that. I’m a headhunter. I’m a senior level executive search makes it you know, leader, who recruits CTOs and CIOs and organizations at the highest level. And he says, Look, it’s very easy for me to find people with the competence, especially in technology, I can find people with competence, I really, my challenge is find people with character that, that show leadership attributes of transparency and vulnerability. Because if someone tries to put on an error that there, there’s no flaw, there’s no shortcoming, and they’re perfect. People won’t follow that kind of leader because they’re not real. Because I look for a leader who’s vulnerable, who’s authentic, who’s real. Yeah, who has shortcomings and weaknesses, that they need to build a team around to bring strength to them, because that’s a leader who others will follow. And the person that comes in and acts perfect, I usually will eliminate early on and recognize that no one’s going to follow them, I look for a leader who’s authentic and real, vulnerable, transparent. And look, that doesn’t mean they don’t have strengths and competencies and, and that you can go too far with vulnerability to it Brene Brown herself, the who talks about vulnerability all the time, says vulnerability without boundaries isn’t vulnerability. So that doesn’t mean there aren’t some boundaries, it just means that you’re real, you’re authentic. Because when you’re, when you’re appropriately vulnerable people see you as real, they tend to trust you, they respond back with equal vulnerability, and then together, you can create things that you couldn’t do otherwise. So you declare your intent, you declare yourself, here’s who I am. Here’s how I like to work. Here’s what works. So, you know, that’s kind of saying I’m trying to hire people with both competence, but also, with character and that combination, are people I can build trust with. And Ed’s amazing. That’s, that’s kind of on that side. And that’s a big area.


Scott D Clary  48:27

And what was your area? Question? It was it was it was just related to the actually the third stewardship of trust and inspiration, because we spoke about trust spoke about inspiring, but I didn’t speak about modeling it. And I think modeling is an interesting point, because modeling is I’m in the organization, I want to do better. I’m a leader, I don’t know how to go about it. I’ve sort of operated in maybe a traditional command and control model my entire career, what is the step that I can do?


Stephen M. R. Covey  48:55

Yes, my main point on modeling is that leaders go first. So that so you want to be the first to demonstrate the behavior that you’d like to see. So rather than waiting on everybody else, if we’re operating in a culture of spin, you’d be the first to talk straight. If we’re operating in a culture of everyone’s a respecter of persons based upon hierarchy and position. He’d be the first to demonstrate respect to the least of the people to those that don’t have a position or power, but their human being you show respect to that person. If everyone’s operating with hidden agendas, you’re the first, to open your agenda, to be transparent, to declare your intent to declare yourself, you know, make a mistake, you’re the first to apologize or make restitution, even if others are covering up or hiding it. You know, if everyone’s bad enough and everyone behind their back, you’re the first to say, I’m gonna go to the person and talk to them. The point is, someone needs to Well, first, leaders go first, it doesn’t mean you’re perfect, it just means that you’re doing your best to lead out and to model the behavior you’d like to see in others. And it’s interesting, it starts with humility, because, you know, we need to have both humility and courage, as leaders humility, that there are principles out there that govern, and courage to do the right thing, even when there’s a cost or a consequence. And to serve others, not just self serving courage, but self service oriented courage to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do. But it starts with this humility. And there’s data from lrn consultancy firm that shows that leaders who are humble, are 18 times more likely to inspire their people than leaders who are not the thing about that a lot of leaders are trying to, you know, show that they’re competent and capable. And they exude arrogance and hubris instead of humility. But does that inspire people? No, not at all. What inspires is someone that saying, Look, I’m humble, I’m gonna work on this and that and, and I am working on this, but I’m getting better and helped me do this. They still have competence, they still, you know, they’re not self denigrating of, I’m not capable. They recognize there’s principles out there, and they need a team, that all of us is better than just one of us. And they lead that way that inspires people, you model the behavior, you go first, you’re the first to do it, I think it’s important to be the first to extend that trust. And, and, and in you know, so that you are trusting and even inspiring, because the very act of extending trust also inspires people. So those three stewardship, modeling, trusting, inspiring, they’re all connected, they build on each other. And when you model by extending trust to others, a very active of trusting others will inspire them and being trusted inspires them. So it becomes a virtuous upward spiral where modeling trust and inspiring are connected. But all of us can get better at modeling. And in I use dead when I’ll tell you what, when I was working on this trust, inspire, book, Scott. Initially, the focus was heavily on trust, trusting and inspiring, because those are, you know, that’s in the name of trust and inspire, but that the name is just trusted, inspired, because it was in juxtaposition to command and control. It always had the modeling piece in it. But at first, I was kind of just saying, let’s just stipulate that, that of course you got a model. But over time, it became clear, we can’t just stipulate it, we have to become intentional about it. We have to become deliberate about it. Modeling needs to go first. It’s someone like Ken Chenault out, former CEO of American Express, he was such a model at what he taught at American Express about integrity. He modelled it himself, that people believed it. And they were inspired by it. And they followed up because he himself was that model. And, and leaders like that, you know, that’s, we want to follow them. And, and so you can’t just stipulate modeling, you need to become deliberate and intentional about modeling, and we need to model humility and courage, we need to also model authenticity and vulnerability, like I mentioned earlier, how we want to hire people who are authentic and vulnerable. And we need to even model empathy and performance. You gotta you got to perform. Any leadership model that didn’t have performance in it is missing something. But the, the idea of empathy, being paired with performance, is really an interesting idea. Because it’s saying, Look, you want to help others perform, then understand, understand them understand their context, their situation, so you can help them succeed. And empathy precedes performance in so many situations, and you get better results when you start with that. So that’s the idea modeling comes first. And you know, as leaders we go first, someone needs to go first leaders go first.


Scott D Clary  54:22

I love that. Okay, let’s let’s let’s do some closing thoughts on on, on on the book. I want to get the socials the website, where do people go because then I want to do a couple rapid fire to close it out. So anything that we didn’t go into, that you wanted to bring up? But also, where should people go to find out more about Franklin Covey, the social handles all of that.


Stephen M. R. Covey  54:45

Okay, beautiful. So I would just say this, that you kind of framed it up from Scott that we’re moving from command and control, to trust and inspire. It’s a journey. It’s a process. And I’m making the point that for all our progress, we still haven’t shifted the paradigm, the mindset, we steal too much, manage people and things similarly, and trust inspires, and you manage things, you lead people. So we need to be good at management. I’m not here to bash management, we need good management, we need good leadership. But we need to be good good at managing things, and good at leading people, too often, we begin to manage people as if they were things, because we’re so good at management. And and if you try to manage people like things, you’ll end up with no people and a lot of things, because people will go elsewhere, they won’t want to be a part of it. So manage things, lead people. And and I also want to say this, that trust and inspire is not the opposite of command and control. It’s a third alternative to it. So look at it this way. The opposite of command and control is what we might call abdicate, and abandon. See, there’s no leadership there at all, I’m kind of just saying, Oh, it’s all hands off. It’s laissez faire to the extreme. So if command and control is kind of excessively hands on, abdicate and abandon is kind of all hands off completely without good leadership. Now trusting his buyer, is hand in hand. It’s really a third alternative, it’s still strong. And it’s kind of easy to kind of look at this and say, Well, don’t we in tough environments have to be command and control and say, No, you can be trusted inspire, that’s still strong, you can be authoritative. Without being authoritarian, you can be very strong. Without being forceful. You can be compelling. Without and persuasive without being compulsory. You can be, you know, in charge and have control without being controlling. So trusting inspires really a third alternative is still has high expectations, high accountability, you know, low expectations, and low accountability doesn’t inspire anyone. So we still kind of our strong, it’s just, it’s just saying there’s a better way to lead in this new world of work. That’s a third alternative. That’s hand in hand. It’s, it’s working with people, not just doing things to them, or even for them, it but with them, and it inspires them. So it builds a high trust culture that inspires that enables us to collaborate, and innovate, stay relevant in a changing world. That’s what we need. And we need to get there, we’re on the journey. And I just in, I tried to lay out kind of the paradigm, the start with the belief that there’s greatness inside of people. So my job as a leader is to unleash their greatness, and so forth, the number of fundamental beliefs, and then those three Stuart ships, you model your trust you inspire. So the point is, we need this kind of leadership and we can become these kinds of leaders. I think the biggest barrier to becoming a trusted inspire leader is that we think we already are one. And it’s because we say, Hey, I’m not command and control. Therefore, I must be trusted, inspire. But there’s probably a ways to go still, for all of us, myself included, how we can become better at modeling at trusting and inspiring, and then we can become increasingly a model. And that model can become a mentor, and we can be that Satya Nadella and the Cheryl Bachelder that become become the model that can help others do the same as we unleashed the greatness inside of our people and our teams everywhere. So it’s a journey. This Book Trust inspires about how to proceed on that journey. I think most people want to be on the journey, I think they are on the journey. This is about getting there and getting better at this. And so if you’re interested, you can go buy this book anywhere. You can go to the socials, trust and There’s stuff on the book and materials. You can follow me on Twitter and on LinkedIn and on Instagram is at Stephen Mr. Covey. So Stephen, Mr. Covey. And love you to do that, to engage with me and, and really to join me and, and you, Scott and many others to to be on this. This journey of bringing about a renaissance of trust in our world, we need more trust in our world today. And we need more inspiration. And when he trust inspire leaders that can do it. So join me and others in bringing about this kind of better world for all of us.


Scott D Clary  59:27

I love that great. Okay, let’s do a couple rapid fire to close this out. And you can be as rapid or as not rapid as you’d like but So the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome in your own personal life


Stephen M. R. Covey  59:43

My biggest challenge was when we did the merger and I suddenly found myself not trusted by half the company. And I prided myself on trust. This is where the trust book came from. When I felt misunderstood, and half the company He didn’t trust me. And I felt unfairly maligned. And I had to kind of own that take responsibility, take it head on and learn how to create trust, intentionally on purpose, that turn that crucible, that biggest challenge I’ve had turned into my strength, ultimately, in that it gave me the insight and the courage they earned. It I emerged on the other side, to say I want to write about trust, and I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and it’s not fun. Being on the low trust side, I should like it being on the high trust side, I had earned that insight.


Scott D Clary  1:00:34

What keeps you up at night now?


Stephen M. R. Covey  1:00:39

What keeps me up at night is figuring out how I can best really impact my leverage people with this message and idea so that I’m not just speaking to the choir, so to speak. But reaching people that maybe wouldn’t listen to my message at first glance for whatever reason, that that, that I feel like my cynics, my critics, what if I could find a way of showing how this could be relevant to them too. And so that I expand my circle of influence, and not just speaking to my same audience. And, and so I’m trying to be relevant to people that I haven’t been relevant to in the past with showing how this is a better way to lead in a new world. And I think that’s why I like to really highlight, this is not soft, this is strong, it’s too easy to label this as soft. And I think this is actually a greater form of strength and leadership today.


Scott D Clary  1:01:42

If you had to pick one person, who’s been an incredible mentor, obviously, there’s been many, but pick one person who’s been a great mentor to what did that person teach you?


Stephen M. R. Covey  1:01:52

It was my father. He taught me trust and inspire leadership by who he was, he modeled he trusted me, inspired me brought out the best in me, he saw potential greatness in me, that I didn’t see in myself. He helped me come to see it in myself. And what I learned from him is that real leadership is seen and communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly, that they come to see it in themselves. That’s the greatest measure of being a leader is that I can see the potential in others I can communicate the potential I can help them come to see it in themselves. My father helped me do that. I saw him do it with others. And I think that’s the essence of what this trust inspire book is about is helping leaders do the same for their people. And that is unseen the greatness communicating the greatness developing the greatness and unleashing the greatness inside of people. And that is real leadership. I learned it first from my father.


Scott D Clary  1:02:54

What would be a favorite source to learn from a book a podcast, something that obviously isn’t your book that you’ve found influence your life?


Stephen M. R. Covey  1:03:06

Well, I mean, it’s not my book, but My Father’s Book is a fabulous one. You knew that Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but there have been many, many other influencers in my life, you know, from Jim Collins, Good to Great and, and love his work and, and, and many, many others, Doug Conant and love his work on the leadership blueprint. I wrote the foreword for his book, it’s brilliant. He’s brilliant. Many other leaders, I mentioned Cheryl Bachelder, her buzzer on this earth service, you know, servant leadership, that whole approach of philosophy, trust inspire really is a way of operationalizing the servant leadership mindset and idea, so many people like that, that are out there. I also will say this I, my, again, I’m giving a little bit biased towards people I’m connected to but I love my, my son, Steven H. Covey. He has a podcast called paradigm shifting books. And it’s on the top 40 books for any personal professional development that will help shift your life the paradigm in your life thing, it’s wonderful.


Scott D Clary  1:04:21

If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?


Stephen M. R. Covey  1:04:27

Be patient and, and keep the faith and the vision of of, of contribution. And, and, and I’ll tell you why. You know, I felt like I had a lot to do but I felt I kind of had to go through act one before I could go to act two and and that I think my to my my thought leadership work now is better because I went through act one which is I paid the price and earned the credibility of doing it as a practitioner, and I wanted to kind of skip. But I had to kind of earn that pay the price. So have the vision, but then be patient, pay the price work hard, a little bit of Angela Duckworth, the grit, perseverance, and passion and get through that, and then you’ll be in a better place of, of being able to make meaningful contribution.


Scott D Clary  1:05:23

And then last question, what does success mean to you?


Stephen M. R. Covey  1:05:28

Success to me means that I’m, I built relationships of trust with all stakeholders. It’s not just, there’s trust there, in that, and that trust includes that I’ve got character and I’ve got competence. So I’m delivering results, but I’m doing it the right way. And I care about the people, I’m helping them grow. So yes, you gotta you know, there’s, there’s trust in the relationships. And, and, but it’s not just with some, it’s trying to do it with others, because, you know, you might build trust with some people, but then lose it with others. And if you have success and have financial success, but you lose the people that are close to you, and the relationships with those that are around you, that you care about, and with family and others, that came at a price that maybe wasn’t worth it. And so I think it’s relationships of trust. And I also will get one more addition to this. My, I’ll use my father’s framework for it. He talked about primary greatness and secondary greatness, and secondary greatness, his achievement and, and success by traditional standards of impact on this man, that’s a good thing. Nothing wrong with it. But primary greatness is, is about character, about who you are, it’s about those relationships of trust. And that, that is really even deeper. Nothing wrong with secondary greatness achievement. But we want to make sure we always lead out with the primary greatness with our character, who we are and with our relationships and, and building that so that that always is at the forefront, that it’s about purpose. It’s about meaning it’s about contribution. Life is about contribution, not accumulation. And contribution is primary greatness. Accumulation could be secondary greatness, and I don’t want to downplay that. Secondary greatness can be good. You want to make you know, you want to do well in your work in your profession. But make sure it’s always about because you want to make a difference. You want to matter, you want to contribute, I think if we keep that primary greatness in mind, contribution and character that will help us in the other things that also are important to us, you know, to contribute to, to do well and to achieve as good as keep it to the lens of contributing contribution.


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