Insights – Trust & Inspire: Notes from the Book

26th August 2022

Posted in: Insights

Trust & Inspire by Stephen Covey explains how great leaders UNLEASH GREATNESS in others.

My key takeaways from the book are summarised below:


“People are like the wildflowers in death valley. We all have greatness inside of us- it just needs the right conditions to flourish”  – This was a recurring theme from Smart Growth- Whitney Johnson ie environment is vital in growing good team.


Best practice leadership now requires a move from command and control to trust and inspire.

  • Command and control = coercion, compliance and containment.
  • Trust and inspire = commitment, creativity and potential.



“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves” -Eleanor Roosevelt

To inspire is to take an experience and imbue it with purpose, to make a job meaningful.



Five Emerging Forces which have led to a change in leadership focus:

  1.  The nature of the world has changed-   Tech innovation & information availability.   Human knowledge doubles every 12 hours ( compared to every 13 months in 1982) creating risks and opportunities to which we must constantly adapt.
  2. The nature of work has changed – more collaborative, innovative, and creative.
  3. The nature of the workplace has changed- remote work, changes to flatter structures and faster decision making.
  4. The nature of the workforce has changed- diversity means different expectations
  5. The nature of choice has changed- from multiple to infinite choices. Location in choice of job, freelancing and gig economy give flexibility.


The epic imperatives of our time-

  1. Win in the workplace -create a high trust culture that can attract, retain, engage and inspire the best people.
  2. Win in the marketplace- collaborate and innovate successfully enough to stay relevant in the disruptive world.


” Being a leader is a privilege you have. Your job is about being able to help people realise their best potential. That’s what, in fact is expected of you.” – Satya Nadella


We should:

Manage things. Lead people.

Efficiency of things. Effectiveness with people.


  • Constant focus on efficiency leads to managers treating people the way the treat things.
  • Command and control focuses on performance rather than potential
  • Flea in a jar parable – ie expectations rather than reality can limit what we can achieve


Motivation v Inspiration

Motivate = carrot or stick – extrinsic forces to manipulative behaviour

Inspiration = finding inner drive to be autonomous, self determined and connected.


Culture of trust:

  • Engaged employees stay for what they can give, disengaged employees stay for what they can get.
  • People are 14 x more engaged when they trust their immediate leader.
  • Collaboration and innovation won’t happen without trust ie there is a non willingness to share or make mistakes
  • In a high trust culture people are 32 x more likely to take a responsible risk and 11 X more lekely to innovat
  • Assume positive intent (reoccuring theme from Leading Bravely Brene Brown)


Micromanagement is ultimate manifestation of command and control.


Becoming a trust and inspire leader:


Stewardship is a responsibility that implies the highest level of trust.

The 3 Stewardships

  • Modeling– who you are creates credibility and moral authority.
    • It’s better to be trusted than to be liked.
    • Operate from care and uplifting behaviour.
    • Walk the walk before people listen to your talk.
    • Ethos is personal credibility- whether people believe what you say.
    • Pathos is being emotionally in tune with others and their needs.
    • Logos is whether you are rational in dealing with people.
    • Behavioural virtues:
      • Humility and courage- care about people and strong enough to give feedback to people when they are wrong. Care more about what is right , than being right, about acting on good ideas, than having good ideas, about recognising contribution, than being recognised for making it. The courage to do the right thing, even when it hard and when nobody will know about it.
      • Authenticity and vulnerability – our actions match our words. Are our public life, private life and inner life congruent. Opening up for others to see who you really are.
      • Empathy and performance = listen with intent to understand, not the intend to respond. Results matter to credibility and effectiveness as a leader.


  • Trusting – how you lead, how you extend trust and grow those around you.
    • Trustworthiness vs trust ie you can have two very trustworthy people working together, but there is no trust between them. If neither is willing to extend trust to the trustworthiness x trusting = trust.
    • Importance of clarifying expectations- ie a shared vision of desired outcomes is built on principles of accountability, responsibility, stewardship and ownership.
    • Must hold yourself accountable fist, and then others, best case is developing processes together rather than unilaterally.
    • Growth outcomes of trusting
      • People rise to the occasion and perform better.
      • People develop new capabilities.
      • People reciprocate and return the trust.


  • Inspiring– connect to why – how you connect to people and connect to purpose of inspiring people.
    • People don’t leave bad organisations, they leave bad bosses.
    • How do we inspire. Start with modelling and trusting.
    • Connecting- with people and with purpose.
      • Connection with ourselves = find your why.
      • Relationship with others = caring. Caring above competing. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
    • Empathy and compassion at a team level = belonging.
    • Inspiring through purpose = a sense of contribution. Mission, vision and values v purpose, meaning and contribution.


Fundamental Beliefs:

  1.  People have greatness inside them – my job is to unleash their potential, not to control them-
    • Actively look for the greatness in people and look to find the right conditions to grow it further.
    • Communicate people’s worth and potential to them.
    • Treat people as they are and they will remain as they are. Treat people as they can be, and they will become as they can and should be.
  2. People are whole people- my job is to inspire not to motivate-
    • Recognise the whole person –
      • body ( physical and economic needs),
      • heart ( emotional and social needs),
      • mind (mental/ intellectual needs),
      • spirit (spiritual/ meaning needs.
  3. There is enough foe everyone – so my job as a leader is to elevate caring above competing-
    • Command and control see others success as diminishing their own success.
    • Trust and inspire have an abundance mindset.
  4. Leadership is stewardship – so my job as a leader is to put service above self interest –
    • leaving something in better shape, than when we stepped into our role.
  5. Enduring influence is created from inside out- so my job as a leader is to go first.


The five emotional cancers – competing, contending, complaining, comparing and criticising.


Stewardship agreements- / win win performance agreements involve the following which clarify expectations and practice accountability:


  1. Desired results – What do we want to accomplish and why?    This should be done together not top town = mutual commitment
  2. Guidelines – Within what boundaries (parameters, principles and policies)? will which results will be accomplished? While these are collaborative the person doing the task has ultimate ownership and autonomy.
  3. Resources – What they have to work with?- human, financial, technical, organisational support and resources. Allows planning for optimal results.
  4. Accountability – How will we know how we’re doing? Could include timeframes for measuring success.
  5. 5 consequences – What happens if we don’t achieve results. Clearly understand outcomes if results achieved or not.



Trust and inspire is NOT:


Lack of control

Lack of structure

Lack of vision or direction

Lack of high expectations and accountability


Overcoming Barriers:

This won’t work here.                 Must start from somewhere!

Fear – But what if I :

  • Lose control,            Smart trust actually creates more control.
  • it doesn’t work,            Use good judgement. Balance risk and return
  • I’ve been burnt before,          Believe that most can and want to be trusted.
  • I don’t get the credit,          Others success does not diminish your own.
  • I’m not as confident as you think?         Build trust in yourself first.

I don’t know how I’ll let go.           See failure as the pathway to growth and innovation.

I the smartest one in the room.             I need the strengths of others around me? Practice humility, listen first and show respect for others input, embrace growth mindset ( for yourself and others)

This is who I am.     You must unlearned what you have learned.


“It’s not about me- it’s about what I can do for other people.”    Inga Beale



Author: Donna Bruce