Management Strategy

Stephen M.R. Covey is perhaps best known as the oldest son of Stephen R. Covey, author of the international best seller the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which was published in 1989. Prior to the publication of his book, the elder Covey was a professor at Brigham Young University. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is married to his wife Sandra. The couple had nine children together and now have forty-seven grandchildren. Covey has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Utah and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard University.

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In Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, Speed of Trust, he takes his father’s ideas and blazes a revolutionary new path towards productivity and satisfaction. According to Covey, “Trust is the very basis of the new global economy.” For this reason, “Trust, and the speed at which it is established with clients, employees and constituents, is the essential ingredient for any high-performance, successful organization.”

In general, Speed of Trust provides an in-depth look at how trust functions in the every day transactions and relationships of business leaders and public figures. It also discuses how one can establish immediate trust and thus allow an organization to forego the “time-wasting, so often deployed in lieu of actual trust.”

With the concepts of these books, the business manager will understand that in both internal and external relations, the most beneficial and effective method of management is to trust colleagues and employees. Thus, when applied directly to the field of employee management, according to Covey, the most effective style of management is one that delegates leadership responsibilities to others, thus empowering them to become invested in the business’ success. However, as Covey correctly points out, being able to manage in such a fashion requires an atmosphere of mutual trust within the workplace.

According to Covey, in a business organization there are two types of approaches to motivation that a company can utilize: management and leadership. Management is defined as the administration of routine and stable operations. Leadership, on the other hand, is defined as the ability to bring about large-scale, long-term and successful changes in a company. According to Covey, leadership is the hallmark of a trust-based management style.

As Covey thoroughly points out, with a basis of trust, leadership responsibility is dispersed to all levels of a business operation. The advantage is that having a company full of leaders will ensure less need for administrative oversight and will create a workforce driven by self-motivation to better the company. On the other hand, and something that Covey seems to glaze over, is this creation of multiple leaders can also tend to lead to power struggles and the lack of set ways of doing things, which could cause unproductive turmoil.

For example, in a situation of a corporate merger the issue of trust and leadership vs. management becomes complicated. Let’s say the original company will usually take a primarily leadership dominated approach to its business organization, allowing its employees to have many freedoms and responsibilities. The merging company, however, has a motivation approach that places more emphasis on management and incentives. In order to ensure that both performance and job satisfaction remain high for all employees in the , steps will have to be taken to implement both styles of motivation.

Thus, according to the theory of Covey, a management approach will have to have a strategy that lays out goals and incentives for those employees who prefer this style of management. However, within this structure opportunities for leadership will be created. For example, one motivational incentive could be more independence for the employee. In other words, in order to get the newly merged company efficiently operating quickly, the business managers will best be served by trusting their employees.

So, according to Covey’s theory, what would an ideal manager look like, or what characteristics would exemplify a trust-based approach to business management? In summary, an ideal manager under Covey’s theory would place a great deal of trust and responsibility in his or her directors. This form of trust can be seen, according to Covey, when a business leader:

Maintains open lines of communication with his or her directors;

Consistently gathers feedback from the people working under the director in order to gain proper and insightful evaluations;

Endeavors to remove roadblocks and assist the director succeed in reaching both their own personal goals and the goals of the company; and Provide coaching to the directors by emphasizing what they are doing good and what areas need to be developed.

Operating a business under a is somewhat of a unique management style in today’s business world. Although Covey stresses the importance of operating a very hands off and advisory role instead of hands on and directing, the typical business manager will put more of an emphasis on directing their directors, essentially telling them what to do, how to do it and then supervising every aspect of them doing it. Clearly, this is not what Covey means by a trust-based workplace and thus why the theories of Covey, like his father’s, are considered revolutionary.

Even in personal experience, the majority of managers I have worked under have always taken a more hands-on or supervisory role in their job. Although this method worked, I can attest to feeling no connection to the company’s overall success. This is what I find so attractive about Covey’s theory. The management method advocated by Covey is effective simply because it uses trust as a method to empower others by giving them a personal stake or incentive in excelling in their work- Thereby leading to a more successful business endeavor.


Covey, Stephen M.R. The Speed of Trust the One Thing that Changes Everything. New York: Free Press, 2006.