Stephen M.R. Covey – 21st Leadership – Model, Trust & Inspire (300)

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Stephen M.R. Covey

Stephen M. R. Covey is the co-founder of CoveyLink and of the FranklinCovey Global Speed of Trust Practice, a keynote speaker and advisor on trust, leadership, ethics, and high performance. He is the co-author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Smart Trust and the New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust. His most recent book, Trust and Inspire: How Truly Great Leaders Unleash the Greatness in Others, was just released in April 2022. Nothing moves as quickly as trust, he contends, and the key leadership skill of the new global economy is the capacity to build, nurture, expand, and repair trust with all stakeholders.

Trust and Inspire – The Latest Book From Stephen M.R. Covey

Stephen M.R. Covey has recently published his new book, Trust and Inspire. It’s a leadership book on “How Truly Great Leaders Unleash Greatness in Others.

Today, despite the fact that our world has changed significantly, our leadership style has not, and this has created a leadership problem. Most teams, schools, families, and companies still follow the “command and control” paradigm, which emphasizes hierarchy and employee obedience. However, this approach to leadership is utterly archaic in light of how quickly the globe, the workforce, the nature of work, and our options for where, how, and when to work and live have changed.

Understanding trust in leadership and organizations has been Stephen M.R. Covey’s life’s work. In his most recent and groundbreaking book, he provides a straightforward yet audacious answer: to switch from this “command and control” strategy to a leadership style of “trust and inspire.” People prefer to be led rather than managed. A new leadership approach called Trust and Inspire is based on the idea that people are capable of being creative, collaborative, and full of potential. People who work for this kind of leader are motivated to improve both personally and professionally. Covey provides the answer to the future of work in this “beautifully written page-turner” (Amy Edmondson, professor at the Harvard Business School), where a dispersed workforce will be the norm, necessitating trust and collaboration across time zones, cultures, personalities, generations, and technology.

Trust and Inspire calls for a radical shift in the way we lead in the 21st century, and Covey shows us how.

And now here’s Stephen M.R. Covey.

Full transcript below

Video on 21st Leadership – Model, Trust & Inspire. With Stephen M.R. Covey

I would like to correct a misreference I made to incentivese, specifically incentives in mail production — I thought I had read it in Stephen’s book, but it turns out I had actually read it in Curiosity Chornicles. My apologies for the misreference.

Stephen M.R. Covey Sharing Key Takeaways from TRUST AND INSPIRE

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Podcast with Stephen M.R. Covey. 21st Leadership – Model, Trust & Inspire.


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Stephen M.R. Covey, Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta  00:00

Hey everybody. Welcome back to the show. I’ve got Stephen M.R. Covey with me today. Stephen, Welcome to the How It Happened Podcast.

Stephen M.R. Covey  00:20

Hey, thanks, Mike. I’m really excited. Delighted to be here with you today.

Mike Malatesta  00:25

Well, this has been almost two years in the making. Stephen, I reached out to you after hearing you on the Storybrand Podcast back in August of 2020. And I’m glad I was persistent. And I’m glad that I didn’t annoy you and that we were finally able to get this scheduled. So really happy to have you here.


Yeah. Oh, I’m thrilled to be here. Excited.

Mike Malatesta  00:49

So for those of you who haven’t heard of Stephen yet, or for those of you who have and want to know why I’ve got him here, let me tell you a little bit about Stephen M.R. Covey. So Stephen is co founder of CoveyLink, and of the Franklin Covey Global Speed of Trust practice. He’s a sought-after and compelling keynote speaker and advisor on trust, leadership, ethics, and high performance. He speaks to audiences around the world, and to our audience on this humble podcast as well. He is a New York Times and number one Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of The Speed of Trust, and co-author of the number one Amazon Best Sellers, Smart Trust, and his newest book, Trust and Inspire, How Truly Great Leaders Unleash the Greatness in Others, which just came out in April of 2022. I believe that right, Stephen?


Yeah. Just just a couple months out. Okay. Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  01:51

And this book, I had the chance to read it. Thank you for sending me a copy. And it comes with some really, you know, amazing acclaim from people you may have heard of, like Tony Robbins and Marshall Goldsmith and Indra Nooyi and Adam Grant, just to name a few. So congratulations on that as well, getting all those really well known leaders to, to weigh in on this great work that you’ve produced. Thank you. Stephen advocates that nothing is as fast as the Speed of Trust, and that the ability to establish, grow, extend and restore trust with all stakeholders is the critical leadership competency of the new global economy. But what I find most interesting about Stephen, at least so far, prior to the podcast is that he’s not one of these people who sort of, you know, talks the talk but hasn’t walked the walk. He’s the former CEO of Covey Leadership Center, which under his stewardship became the largest leadership development company in the world. Stephen with his collaborator, Greg link led the strategy that propelled his father’s book, Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which you may have heard of, to become one of the two most influential business books of the 20th century, according to CEO magazine, which is the other student


the other was rated, it was Tom Peters, and Bob Waterman In Search of Excellence.

Mike Malatesta  03:33

Okay, okay. Well, thank you. I was thinking maybe it was thinking grow rich but In Search of Excellence, okay. So Stephen joined the covey Leadership Center as a client developer. This is why we worked his way up so as client developer and later became the national sales manager, and then the President and CEO and under his direction, the company grew rapidly achieving Inc 500 status not 5000. As President and CEO, he nearly doubled revenues to over $110 million, while increasing profits by 12 times. The company grew to be a worldwide leader and the value grew. I don’t even know the math on 2.4 to 160, but it’s a lot of times and he orchestrated a merger with what was it Ben Franklin quest to become Franklin Covey. And you can learn more about Stephen at his website or at Franklin Covey website, Franklin Covey, cov and his socials are all looks like all Stephen, Mr. Covey, Twitter. I know he’s active on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook so


and Instagram now so in Instagram, of course

Mike Malatesta  04:55

tick tock. Not dead. Yeah,


don’t worry. My daughter is working on me, okay. He says, I gotta be relevant with the youth. You gotta

Mike Malatesta  05:03

be there. Sure. So Stephen, I start every podcast with the same simple question. And that is how to happen for you.


It is a great question, by the way, you and I were talking before the, the podcast? And I think it’s a great question, because it gives each of us a chance to kind of share our story in a way that is unique to us. So as I kind of prepared for this, here’s how I would say how this happened to me. Yeah, I’ll give it in two pieces. The first is, when I did become the president and CEO of the covey Leadership Center, I really focused on how if we could build, you know, a high trust team and high trust culture, that that will, that would enable us to do everything else that we were trying to do better. I really believe that, that we that it wasn’t that we weren’t low trust that we were low trust, we weren’t, we had good trust, it just, I felt like this could be a big advantage. But we got even better. And so we’ve focused on this intentionally, and actually built a great culture of trust, and, and then we became very collaborative, very innovative, we move fast, all kinds of things happened, when you build trust, all kinds of great things. And, and, and we figured out a good business model. Because prior to this point, we had, we had a good value proposition for customers. Around the work, we were doing built really around my father’s work of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Good value proposition, but we hadn’t figured out yet, how to monetize it, and how to how to turn it into a sustainable business. And so we had high growth, but with low margins, and, you know, we had a lot of debt and, and, and, and yet we were growing. But with these low margins, and a lot of debt, no outside capital, you know, we’re gonna grow ourselves out of business. So we tried, we had to figure out a business model to really become sustainable and, and I’ll tell you why we became far more collaborative for more innovative as, as we built the trust, we figured out the model, and then and then we were able to do all kinds of great things. So that’s the kind of the first half and I realized then I saw the power firsthand of the great benefits the dividends of a high trust team a high trust culture, then we did a merger with our arch competitor, that then Franklin quest. And, you know, that was heavy into the time management this is back the old Franklin de Paul Yeah, sure. Yeah. And we were into time management as well with our first things first, and, and, and so we’d been arts competitors, you know, for many years, in the marketplace in the time management space. And now we merged companies because we felt like the combination could be better for, for customers. And, and we felt like, you know, these are, we got good people on both sides of this, of these companies and good values, we can make this work. And long story made short, the merger was a real challenge. Especially initially, just because we had approached the world through different lenses of how we saw it. And, and again, we had good people on from both sides. And, and, and but because we’d been competitive, and, and really ours competitors, there was kind of some distressed, not that we had done things to each other while we merge, but just kind of our, our roots coming into this and, and the fact that we saw the world differently. And, and so suddenly, we found ourselves in a culture of, of distrust, where everyone was kind of interpreting things and reading things into it and, and suddenly we were not very collaborative and suddenly were not very innovative, we became inward focused, instead of focusing on the customer. And everything started to slow down. There is suspicion creeping in and so now, you know, having earlier experience firsthand the great dividends returns benefits of high trust. Now I was starting to see the high cost of low trust and how everything slowed down and cost more became politicized and people will became increasingly disengaged. And everything was interpreted through the lens of you know, politics and kind of are you a covey person or a frontline person instead of that combined company. And that was a real challenge. Um, And,


and then we kind of came to and recognize that you know what we need to practice what we’re teaching here and apply our own material to ourselves. And, and we need to focus on building a high trust team a high trust culture, we can’t just assume it, we can’t just take it for granted. And so we began to work on this intentionally saying, We got to build trust with each other, we got to behave our way into greater trust. And we began to do this becoming increasingly transparent, and open and authentic, and vulnerable and real. And we began to listen a lot better to each other. And understand to demonstrate respect, and, and to clarify expectations and to be accountable. And, and, and then really, above all, to extend trust to each other. In order to build trust, you gotta give trust. And, and, and the net of this was that we move the needle dramatically. And we went from low trust, to high trust. And when we build a high trust team and culture, again, back to my earlier experience, suddenly different unkind outcomes, different in kind, collaboration, teaming, partnering, engagement of people. And we can come up with, you know, we were more innovative, more creative, and we came up with wonderful solutions. And, and but it was a real crucible for me on this, the second half, because here, I had been the CEO of cottagers, epicenter. So you know, I’m merging with this, you know, we’re merging with this with prevalent quest. And in this process, the reality, Mike is that, at least for a period of time, half the people didn’t trust me. But I was I thought I was really trustworthy. And you know, and I’d been that way and it was proceed, proceed that way with the covey people. But the friendly people didn’t see it that way. And, and, you know, this, this kind of arts competitors, mindset that just kind of infected everyone and, and half the people didn’t trust me. And I had to intentionally work at it, build that trust, demonstrate it through my behavior, not just through words, but through actions over time, to earn that trust into and to build it. And so it was kind of a crucible experience for me, but I came away from this whole thing. And I recognize, I’ve seen firsthand the high cost of low trust. And that’s given me an understanding of this in a way that I wouldn’t have had appreciated fully, if I’d only seen the positive side. For my product, my friend first.

Mike Malatesta  12:48

Sure, sure, sure. Yeah. Like it’s too easy, right? It’s easy. It’s too easy.


This is easy. why don’t why doesn’t everyone do this? Now I’m on the other side. And I felt misunderstood that people a people, they don’t trust me, well, they don’t know me type of thing. And, and I had to really earn that those insights. And yeah, and it was it was difficult. But I came away from this recognizing trust matters enormously more than anything else we can do. Because of how it impacts everything else that we’re doing. Yeah, Jack and I came to the conclusion that also that trust is learnable. It’s something you can build on purpose, intentionally, because we did that. We did it. When we said, we got to build this trust. And then when we did it, it changed everything. And from that experience, I said, Uh huh, I think I found my voice, what I want to talk about what I want to write about what I want to do is trust. Because I’ve experienced both sides of this, the good side, the bad side. And I’ve seen how this is learnable. And too much of this stuff on trust out there to date was either too academic, or too simplistic. And I felt like I could give a practical approach to how to build and grow trust, intentionally, and why it matters more than anything else you might do as a leader. And from that emerged, my book, The Speed of Trust, and now there’s new book, trust and inspire, and really what has become my life’s work. It emerged from kind of this crucible experience of having to earn this trust in time I felt then fairly distressed it

Mike Malatesta  14:28

and it’s in the book, you do spend a lot of time it’s not all in one place. But here and there, talking about this disconnect that leaders often have about how trustworthy they are perceived to be, or they believe themselves to be versus how their teams look at them, which is kind of like you were saying, was your own experience. And I’ve done my share of acquisitions. And it’s, you think it’s going to be easy because your people trust you, right? So you think, Well, I’m going to come in. And even though there’s this sort of organic, if you’re buying a competitor, at least there’s this organic sort of natural distrust, right? You guys must be doing something wrong because we lost to you on this or vice versa. You still go in with the expectation that hey, I’m, you know, I’m Stephen, or I’m Mike, and everybody trusts me. So you’re gonna trust me, too. It’s just going to be natural. And it’s, it’s really not. You know, I always look at it as you go in, and you have this little moment to take everything up, and then keep it there. Right. But you get up there, you start off good, because you has the leadership team. Let’s, for example, I don’t know what your negotiations were like, Stephen, but you’re like, Yeah, we see the synergies, we see how we’re so much aligned. And we see that you know, all these great things for everybody. But what, what everybody else sees who wasn’t in those meetings might be, this is dangerous. This could be bad for me, right? And so you only have this little window of time before it to get it here and stabilize it before it starts to go down here. And then you’re like, oh, gosh, I gotta dig myself out of a trough, which is what it sounds like you, your experience was as well.


What you’re what you’re describing Mike is kind of precisely what happened. Yeah, I kind of assumed trust, I just kind of assumed it, because I had it with the, with our team, our group, I assumed that we would have it going forward, it’d be known and I didn’t, I didn’t put myself out enough, intentionally, deliberately, and build it explicitly on purpose and letting people know, I wanted to earn their trust and, and devastated. I just kind of assumed it. And you’re right. And but people had all their different viewpoints of the merger, The Good, the Bad, and, but over time, what happened is, it started to become politicized, where people would view it through we they lands, if that tips, and it did tip initially, and that can put you upside down where you’re now got to dig your way out. And that happened to us. But the good news is, we did dig our way out. And ya know, and we, and we earned it, we gained the back end, and the net, and the positive was that I really haven’t had that experience of, of seen firsthand and experiencing firsthand the high cost of low trust. It gave me far greater clarity, far greater insight and understanding into both why trust matters and how to build it and how to rebuild it when it’s been lost.

Mike Malatesta  17:41

And you mentioned several times, the word intentional. So once we became aware of this, we started to do take intentional steps to correct it. And I’m curious what some of those may have been, like, is the first step like acknowledging, hey, I think we may have messed up here, I think we may have, you know, eroded some trust that we could have prevented, you know, some acknowledgement of Yeah, so can you can you walk me through how that happened?


Absolutely. That guy, and I’ll never forget I, I was, I was flying to a meeting of our consultants, which is, you know, for our type of business, the key part that these are the folks that interface with clients to do training and learning and consulting and leadership development workshops, and the like. And, and we were gathering, you know, about a third of them. And as at a meeting, we’re going to do three meetings of a third, a third, a third. And I remember going to this meeting. And, and kind of I had my presentation on the strategy of this new combined company, that I remember going in and saying, You know what, our problem is not people questioning the strategy. Our problem is that there’s distrust, they’d been these arts competitors, and we haven’t really addressed this. And I remember debating, do I give this presentation? I have the whole PowerPoint on all the strategy, what we’re going to do. I got thinking, you know, what, if people don’t trust me, they don’t really care about

Mike Malatesta  19:18

Yeah, no one’s listening. Yeah. Yeah.


And so I decided to take a risk, and I said, I’m going to become as authentic and real and even vulnerable. As I can get real, and I went in, I said, Look, I came prepared to talk about our strategy going forward. And I’m happy to do that and I’d like to, but I’d rather talk about what you’d like to talk about. And I really want to open this meeting up and see where you want to go. You know, what’s on your mind as here we are in this merger and we’re having these struggles and, and we’re trying to make decisions as which compensation plan we’re gonna adopt the Franklin Covey when we Which structure we’re going to adopt? And who is this? And who is that? And who’s making these decisions? And is it balanced? And you know, how are we going about doing this? If you’d rather talk about that, I’d love to talk about that, too. So where would you like to go? And, you know, to a person, everyone said, Let’s Get Real, let’s open this up. And, and so without an agenda, we then totally got rid of the whole day’s plans. I literally spent the entire day just opening things up. And I really focused on listening, not judging and evaluating. But just to listen, we’d put things up, and then we just talk openly. Yeah. And I just would, I tried to talk as straight as I could. I tried to be as transparent as I could. I said, you know, so someone would say, Well, are you balancing the needs of all stakeholders on this? Or are you just taking a covey approach to this? And then I kind of share? Okay, that’s a fair question. I said, so here’s what I’m trying to do. But maybe I’m not doing as well as I could be. And I need to be, you know, and I, I was open and real. And I’ll never forget, we, we went through and we and then we also came up with a bunch of things we needed to work on. And we kind of cumulated them at the end went through them all, and we made commitments around them. And so that built some hope that maybe we’re going to address some of these things. But their trust came really when we followed through on all these commitments, and came back to him that built the trust. And we need both the hope and the trust. And so you know, making and keeping the commitment. But I will remember though, I’ll never forget after this day long meeting, that just was open. And, and, and spontaneous and transparent. flying back, there was someone that came up to me and said, Stephen, we built more trust today in one day than we have in the prior year. And and, and then that was still just the beginning, I still needed to follow through. But it was a dramatic turnaround. And it happened faster than we thought by being just intentional, deliberate, the transparency, with straight talk, with listening, the demonstrating respect, and with extending trust to each other.

Mike Malatesta  22:26

And before that person came up to you, Stephen, I’m wondering if you remember how you felt after that day, because I’m sitting here trying to put myself in your shoes, and I’m thinking I could either have come away from that meeting, you know, really energized? Or I could have come away from that meeting just exhausted like, oh, my gosh, am I going to? Or am I going to have a chance to win these people back? Or have we just blown it?


Yeah, I can’t relate, energized. And I’ll tell you why. It’s because in in me being vulnerable, and going first and being transparent and open, people saw that I didn’t have an agenda. There was no hidden agenda, there is trying to do the right thing for everybody, that I was trying to balance the different perspectives and sides, that I had people around me that were helping, and I told people ask, Well, are you biased? And, and, and I, I, you know, my mantra became this, that the height of subjectivity is to think that your objective and the height of objectivity is to know that you’re naturally subjective, and to take steps to compensate for that.

Mike Malatesta  23:52

Yeah, it’s not good to not be how can I said, so I’m,


my name is Stephen. Mr. Covey. I ran the covey Leadership Center. So I probably am quite subjective, yes, for things we were doing. I know that. So I needed to take steps to compensate for that subjectivity, and surround myself with people who saw the world differently. That came from the Franklin side and have a different perspective, a different idea, a different approach, and to listen to that. And to be influenced by that. And so when people began to see that I actually was doing this and trying to do this, but I could do it better. It really, actually, we felt it in the meeting itself, that this was that we that all the things we’re envisioning that were be good about this merger. Couldn’t that come about? It’s just that we’ve gotten lost in this process. And I’ll tell you what, Mike, it happened fast afterwards, to where we got to where all the purposes of the merger ultimately began to come about of the synergies and the possibilities of things we could do together. It didn’t happen overnight. But it was an accelerator to it. As we as we became intentional and deliberate about it, so I did come away energized. But going into it, I must acknowledge it was white knuckle flying time. Oh, I can imagine. Yeah. And I literally weighed this is a risk to do, it’d be safer to kind of just go down the strategy path and ignore this. But I don’t I don’t know how effective it was going to be. And and, and I knew that we were really mired in this distress. And we had to address this couldn’t kick. I just felt like we can’t just keep kicking the can down the road.

Mike Malatesta  25:43

I’ve seen that working. Yeah. And I’ve seen and I’ve probably done this myself, you know, this elephant is in the room, you realize it right? You said you know that you’re walking into a room that’s not 100% bought into you, but you have your strategy presentation. Right. And, and you in your case, you had this choice to make, you know, and I think a lot of leaders would make the opposite choice, they would say, Okay, this elephant is in the room. But I’m going to be so great. Explaining the strategy that I’m going to, you know, overcome the elephant, and I’m going to convert everyone. And at the end, when no one has any questions or anything. You walk away, and you’re like, I did it. I knew I could do it. I did it. And nothing changed, of course, except, you know, you just deciding I’m not going to, I’m not going to address the elephant in the room. I’m going to just try to destroy it. Instead.


Yeah, yep. That’s kind of it. And I wish I were as smart as you’re describing, Mike, because one reason I came to that decision to do it, is because I had a lot of other meetings where I didn’t do it. Yeah. Where I didn’t address the elephant in the room, where I tried to win people over with a strategy or an approach and this and that. And, and because I’d seen Hey, you know, what, the way I’m doing this, I’m not addressing the issue. Everyone knows it’s an issue. And it’s not working. So I took the risk, but is because I kind of come to the point of saying, I got to do something different. Yeah. And yes, but it still was frightening. And it still was a risk to be that open that vulnerable that transparent. But I had kind of tested a little bit and I thought this this current bad is not working. I need to take a risk. And, and and go and go a different path. It still took a lot of courage. I wish I would have been a little bit earlier is what I’m saying. Yeah, I ultimately did do it. And it changed everything. And, and again, it’s always important that I finished the story, which is that truly we came together. And we built a great organization in the Franklin Covey organization. You know, here we are, it’s been 25 years now. So that’s

Mike Malatesta  27:59

since the merger. 25 years,


25 years. Oh my god. So, you know, I’m going I’m going quite back in time. But yeah, it was for me, it was from this experience that I then said, I need to write about trust. This is my voice. Because this is a topic that’s impacting every organization and every leader. And, and there’s, there’s stuff out there on it is again, too simplistic or too academic, but not as practical. And I feel like I have found something to say that could be a value. And that’s when I wrote spirit trust. And now it’s trust inspire from that experience, and it really became the foundation for all the work that I’m doing now. So that’s how it happened. For me.

Mike Malatesta  28:46

I thank you for sharing that. And entertaining my sort of digging in on some of that


stuff. Appreciate it, love it. Love it your questions.

Mike Malatesta  28:56

Oftentimes, I don’t read the acknowledgement portion of a book. But I chose to read to read yours today because of the cover that had you know, multiple names on it. David Casper and McKinley, Covey and carry teacher, you’d normally don’t see that in a book you may see one additional person and I was thinking to myself, Well what’s the deal with these people? And that took me to the Acknowledgement Page and you’re now it’s been pages and what I I guess I wanted to ask you why that was so important to you and how they actually helped bring this book to life Stephen but and the other but the other thing I want to I want to get your get your viewpoint on is the kinds of the kind of team that you have that helps you not only do I’m sure what we just talked about, you know, build and continue to maintain trust and then teach it to other people, but make you the very best version of you?


Yeah, no, I appreciate your asking this, because it’s important to me. And, you know, while I had my agreement with the publisher, Simon Schuster was, I’d be the author of the book. And, you know, I’d written Speed of Trust, and I have the name and the brand around trust, for trust and inspire I involves a team that I’d been working with on some of these ideas, testing it, trying it, collaborating, thinking out loud, bouncing ideas, back and forth. And, and they truly work collaborative, in every sense of the word. And they help the ideas become better and more impactful, more powerful, more simple, and, and better than I would have done on my own without people. But I felt strongly that, that it’s not enough for me to just kind of acknowledge them quietly, I wanted to, to acknowledge them publicly put them, you know, put their names on the book. And, and acknowledge that these were my collaborators. And, and, and co authors. Yes, I was the lead, I was the lead author, but they I wanted to give them recognition, I tried to subscribe to what we talked about in this book, that there’s enough for everyone, you know, an abundance mentality, that’s part of the fundamental belief of a of a trust and inspire leader, I’m striving to be addressed and inspire leader myself, and, and one of the beliefs is that there’s enough for everyone. So my sharing, recognition, and attribution and success with others, doesn’t take away anything from me. It just is acknowledging, publicly and that others contributed enormously to this book into this process, and what we’ve done together, and Demeter was important to acknowledge it publicly. And that’s worth by putting their names on the book. And then and also to express kind of in the acknowledgments of why it was so important that, that this really was synergy, that it was not just independent work, it was interdependent work. And it was better because of that, you know, what’s that expression that none of us is as smart as all of us. And this, I think, is a better work, because David McKinley and Gary were part of doing this together, you know, with me, and, and I felt strong about recognizing that I did a similar thing on the Speed of Trust, where I had, I acknowledged Rebecca Merrill, who helped me in writing that and you know, these are they were my ideas, but she helped me write it. And, and oftentimes, you know, some of that helps you in the writing process, doesn’t get attribution, but I felt strong that I wanted to share name on it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. There’s enough for everyone.

Mike Malatesta  33:10

Yeah, as a reader, it made me feel, you know, not that I didn’t have trust in you. But it made me feel better. Like it made me because there are so many books that get written, particularly by people who are, you know, have some established street cred, let’s say, who they didn’t, they didn’t write a word of the book. And then they take credit for writing the whole book, as you know, as if it was all their work product, and I’m sure it was their ideas and that kind of stuff. Right. But, you know, just, it doesn’t have to be all about you to be important. That’s how I feel at


least I agree with you. I agree. And, and, you know, and this was a book that for me, personally, it was really setting that thing I was thinking about for 17 years, I’ve been working on for six years. But I wasn’t working in isolation by myself, I was working with a team. And I felt and I was involved in every word in the book, in writing and helping write every word. So I wasn’t distant, but I had collaborators that were helping me think about it and refine it, and language it and sequence it and make this more impactful,

Mike Malatesta  34:23

more figures as you’re as valuable as it can be. Right, that’s what


is valuable. It can be a better product because of the collaboration.

Mike Malatesta  34:32

And you also mentioned in the acknowledgments that that you’re sort of beginning and completing your father’s work in the eighth habit and I I want to know what you actually mean by that. What does that mean?


Yeah, well, first of all, I said this in my first book, The Speed of Trust that that I feel like I’m standing on the shoulder of a giant is you know, is I think I forget who said it might have been Newton Can’t remember. So don’t quote me on it. But someone, I think it might have been Newton said, If I’ve seen further than others, it’s only because I stood on the shoulders of giants. And, and, and I would say, you know, if I drill down on trust a whole lot, it’s because I’ve stood on the shoulder of a giant, my father, and his thinking in the seven habits and, and, and, and because trust is a part of that too it’s not one of the habits but it’s kind of an outcome of what happens when you did the seven habits and, and so it enabled me to kind of go deeper. And, and similarly here, I felt like this book trust and inspire is really all about the kind of leadership that’s needed today. And the old model, I’m calling command and control. And we’ve gotten better at it more sophisticated, more advanced, I call it an enlightened command and control, it’s a better version than an authoritarian command control. But it’s still kind of based upon the paradigm of seeing people as as things as opposed to people you know, and, and in this book, I make the point you manage things, and you lead people, right. And we need both good management and good leadership. But the danger comes when we started to manage people, as if they were things. And that’s the old model, you know, the command control, this is trust and inspire. But a lot of the thinking on this began with work that I’d done years ago, that’s my say, 17 years, with my father, where he and I were doing some workshops together some big public presentations. And obviously, he was the biggest name and draw. He wrote the seven habits, and the eighth habit and and so he take about two thirds of the time, it takes about 1/3 the time, and I’ll never forget going to these sessions. And he’d begin by asking, you know, audiences, usually about 1000 people in the room, from all kinds of different organizations. And he’d asked this question, you know, how many of you believe that the vast majority of the people in your organization have far more talent, ingenuity, creativity, energy and capacity than their current job, requires or even allows them to contribute? In almost every hand, hands go up? Yeah, almost everyone say people have a lot more they can give, then you’d ask a follow on question. And how many of you are also under greater demands, to achieve more, with less, and again, almost every hand would go up, and then they’d then he’d kind of stand back and say, so what’s wrong with this picture? Here, we all are under greater pressure to produce more with less, and yet, we’re not tapping into people’s greatest potential and greatness and talent and ingenuity and creativity. What’s wrong with this? And, and it was kind of, he kind of teed up the idea that we’re not the way we’re leading is not unleashing the greatness and others. And it was that idea that got implanted with me 17 years ago, that I said, I began to think about this. And it ultimately got kind of codified in this form of, you know, are we just staying in the existing paradigm just becoming better at it, the Enlightened command and control? Are we moving to a whole new paradigm of leadership? Is this all about unleashing potential, the greatness that’s inside of people? And I know, it’s a big part of your podcast is to bring out the greatness in people. Yeah, right. And I read that as I prepared and saw that and, and, and, you know, that’s what trust and inspire is about unleashing that greatness to be relevant for our times. And you know, and to close those gaps between what people are capable of, and what they’re actually doing. What that’s the leadership that can close that gap. And that will make all the difference in the world. And so, and I, and that was a big part of the message of the eighth habit, and I felt like, I’m continuing that building upon that, and kind of taking it down my ideas around trust and inspire being a way that will close that gap. But, you know, my starting point is, I feel like again, standing on the shoulder of a giant and my father

Mike Malatesta  39:31

was when Let me ask about those two questions. So you know, do people have more to give? Yes. Are you asked to do more with less? Yes. In my in my mind, I thought, Okay. Is the other question that needs to be asked is, are you asking people in your organization to do more because you believe that they can, and, and by doing more, it would be good for them? Personally first, and second, it would be good for the organization. Is that something that’s Am I off base there? Or is that something that’s maybe missing in the command and control equation?


Yeah, yeah. Well, part of it is part of that question was implicitly put into the first one. Okay. Which was that? Do you believe your people have more capability, talent, knowledge, insight, ingenuity, then their current job requires or even allows them to give? In other words, you know, it’s not, it’s just that we’re not tapping into it. We’re not you were either not asking for it. Or we’re not seeking it. And we’re not, you know, either not aware of it, not asking you for not seeking it. So it’s kind of built in to that very first question. Yeah, we’re, we’re

Mike Malatesta  40:55

not open to it.


Yeah, we’re not we’re not doing enough. Because sometimes, the jobs don’t, don’t only don’t require it, they don’t allow for it. And we’re not asking for it is the implicit assumption. So that question, it was kind of built into the first that as much as we’re asking, there’s still a whole lot more that people have that they could give.

Mike Malatesta  41:17

And there’s a lot of great examples and charts and stuff about the difference between command and control, and trust and inspire in the book. So I’m not going to ask you about all of those things, people can get the book and they can read those. But one of the things I do want to ask you about was like to have the perspective you have, and I know you’ve coached and taught many people plus had your own organization, which is always a great, you know, your own little laboratory, you know, to figure this out, as we were talking about, but it I know you’ve had this experience with Trammell Crowe that you write about in the book with John Walsh, and you know, kind of you getting hired, and then nobody wanted. Nobody wanted you on their team and their regional team, have you? So it made me wonder, and I’m sure John is certainly not going to be this person. But what is your experience been? Or have you had one with directly with a control and command and control leader like that you were reporting to or working with him? In? Just I’m just curious.


Yeah, the short answer is yes. I have. Yeah. Okay. On more than one occasion. And I think most of us have.

Mike Malatesta  42:31

Yeah, I know.


People that yeah, you have. And, and I have two of you have you had more than one. I’m,

Mike Malatesta  42:40

I have had one that I would consider extremely command and control. And then I’ve had one or two others who were I’d say, episodically command and control. So like, when the pressure goes up, the command and control comes with, like, when you don’t know how to handle something. You go back to what you were taught, that’s how I always thought about it.


It is it is it’s like learning a language in a new country. And then when you’re hammering. And now if you miss the nail, hit your thumb. You’re gonna scream out in your native tongue. Yeah, that is that. Yeah, right. Yes. You’re getting the pressures on how do you go back to what you know, right? Yeah. Yeah. So I’ve had the same and, and the data shows that for all our progress, we’ve mostly moved from authoritarian command and control to a more enlightened command and control. And in that they’re still, you know, 90% of organizations are still predominantly enlightened command and control place, as opposed to trust and inspire. And so Hey, most people can point to the leaders that are commanding control, even if they’re good people. And they liked him, but they oftentimes just still feel like they weren’t unleashed by them. Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  44:01

So I’m so glad you mentioned now because there is a very interesting story about incentives in the book. And how people adapt to maximize incentives. And but that, that poorly constructive incentives may not make may not make the impact you hoped they would. And so this Stephen has this interesting story about Russian nail makers. I think it is it in the book, I think it’s in the book. Yeah, Charlie Munger, I think you quote and then there’s this little story anyway. It’s funny, if you want to check it out. The So, first of all, the nuance if there is a nuance between command and control and enlightened command and control, what is that


The law is

Mike Malatesta  45:03

at a separate phase?


Well, no, there’s actually kind of a real, you know, it’s real improvements. I mean, you know, we brought things like emotional intelligence, strengths, focusing on people’s strengths, and, and mission, and the importance of that and, and other things, too. So. So it’s a much improved version than the authoritarian command control of just all dictating to people and, and just treating people like cogs in the machine. But that still, in many cases, we still haven’t shifted the paradigm. And we still view that, that people are a means to an end, you know, even the expression, people are our most important assets. That’s well intentioned. Yeah, and, you know, and so the sentiment is good, that we care about people, but, you know, an asset is kind of like a means, to an hand. And, and that, and, as opposed to this being all about the people, and you know, it’s just kind of like you could say, in in in inline command control, you’re trying to get results through people, nothing wrong with that, inherently, you want to work through people. But if people are merely an means to an end, you could clearly kind of push that to the extreme, where you kind of milk people as far as you can go, to get more out of the asset, to get more results, as opposed to a trust and inspire approach which is get results in a way that grows people. So people, yes, we want to get results, that is an end. And growing people also, isn’t it. So we get results in a way that rose people and so you know, it’s just the thing versus people fundamental paradigm. And still enlightened command and control is an improved version, a much better version than authoritarian, kinetic control. But still too often people are a means to an end, instead of an end, in and of that, in and of themselves, along with results. Sure. So that end approach, you know, get results in a way that grows people, instead of just get results through people. And then therefore, is a means to an end. So that’s probably the biggest paradigm difference. And then, and even the difference between motivation and inspiration, you know, motivation is external, extrinsic rewards. And it motivates people to want to get more rewards. So it can work, but you got to constantly provide more carrots or more sticks, you know, and, and more stimuli to kind of move people. Whereas inspiration comes from the Latin term inspur Ra, which means to breathe life into. So you breathe, breathing life into people into relationships into teams and organizations, and you ignite the fire that’s within, you light the candle within, and that can burn on for years without having to have constant new stimuli of more rewards. And that’s a, you know, to inspire people not merely motivate them is, is is different in kind than just more carrot and sticks, more rewards. And so, you know, there’s a number of these distinctions between the Enlightened command and control and the trust and inspire that really make a profound difference at the end of the day.

Mike Malatesta  48:40

Sometimes I think of motivation as sort of make me do something and inspiration as a want to do something, is that fair way to look at it,


it is a motivation is that mean that you move people do it? And inspiration as they move themselves toward it? Yeah, you know, versus not you doing it to them through systems and rewards carrots and sticks? Is they choosing it? Because they, they, they connect with it, and it it’s part of what burns inside of them. And it’s just, you know, and people are whole people have a body, heart, mind and spirit. If people were just economic beings only, and came to work just for money, then maybe carrot and stick motivation is sufficient. But you know, that’s the command and control paradigm, but people are just compartmentalized. You know, beings, economic beings, but a trust inspired mindset. paradigm is people are whole people. And, and body, heart mind, spirit, they bring their whole selves to work. So, so I want to I want to my job as a leader is to inspire, not merely motivate if they’re economic beings, only the motivation would be sufficient. And so, you know, these are some of the distinctions that contrast But you’re right, Mike, throughout the entire book ai, ai is an ongoing construct of what command and control looks like what trust and inspire looks like, in a variety of different things. You know, command and control is about compliance. Trust inspires about commitment. Right, and on and on, you know. And, and command and control is about coordination, trust and inspire out collaboration, Command Control, you’ll achieve Association, trust and inspire, you’ll achieve belonging, and inclusion, you know, just another level that’s different, not just in degree, but different in kind. That’s probably the biggest distinction within the command and control spectrum. You’ll move from authoritarian to inline command control that’s different in degree. Crushing, Inspire is different in kind. It’s just a whole different approach of how you view people I view leadership. And that’s what we need today to unleash the greatness inside of people.

Mike Malatesta  50:59

Yeah, so So two things on that first, there’s a there’s a really incredible example in the book of a CEO and who was a year into the job, sort of wrote an open letter to the team that said, hey, basically said, hey, you know, the board appointed me to be CEO, shareholders, you know, like, what, what’s happening in the company, but I really want to understand what you think about the job that I’m doing. And essentially, it was a it was a survey was like, it was like a 360 review that he asked for in a survey monkey or something. And he said, right in there, if, you know, he was kind of like asking for a vote of no confidence or vote of confidence, no confidence. But, but not because he was his job was threatened, the board supported everything. It was just because he wanted to be sure that he was making the right impact on the people on the team. So it was a very unusual, I think, because first of all, most, most of the ones you read about in the Wall Street Journal is the I have supported the board. So I’m doing whatever, you know, I want to do, or I don’t have support of the board, and I’m getting kicked out it was it was a very interesting, nuanced, or maybe not nuanced, but it was a very interesting story about one person’s approach to am I really connecting with people, do they trust me? Right?


Yeah, it was really remarkable. I spent time with this leader. And, and, and he shared this whole experience. And I first learned about it from one of his direct reports. Okay, says you got to see what my boss did. You know, there’s over 1000 people. So this was not a huge company, but it’s not a small company, either. Yeah. No. And, and, and he literally put it out there. Do you want me to continue on as your leader? Yes, the board is appointed me. But in that, you know, it’s been a year enough time has passed to determine whether you want me to continue as your leader, if you do a badly serve you if you’re not, if you don’t, I’ll move along. And you know, it was anonymous, no tracing back. And that took enormous courage. But I talked with him and, and he had a sense of, of his own sense of who he was, and his credibility. He was a good model. He demonstrated character, he demonstrated competence. And, and so he wasn’t going into this blindly, he had some confidence that he that he was a good leader, and he was doing a good job, but he wanted them to choose him, just like the board had. But he felt like it was really believing that they would, right. But he knew that by giving them the chance to choose him, they would become far more committed to the company to him to partnering. And, and that, you know, so it was, it was a bold and a courageous move. And at the same time, he also felt like, I can do this. I think I’ve demonstrated enough that people do have confidence in me. I think the very act of being open and vulnerable, like this will, in fact, build even more confidence in me that I’m not just relying upon position. But I’m trying to do this on influence, not just on formal authority, but a moral authority. And that’s exactly what happened. And it isn’t quite a remarkable story night when I spent time with him. I was really, really impressed by him.

Mike Malatesta  54:39

And it’s a it’s not it’s directly I direct message to everyone I care about what do you think it’s that ask thing that we were saying before, you know, I’m going to ask you for someone that’s sick. It’s going to assume stuff and I don’t care what you think I’m giving you a form to express yourself.


Absolutely. ABS written that came through. So, so many messages came through with this, you know, his own is easy credible. And he was his openness, his asking his is caring and his vulnerability, his transparency and but the net effect was there was greater commitment. The greater the involvement, the greater the commitment. Yeah. And that’s a trust inspire leaders. So trust inspire leaders, they start with modeling. That’s who they are. And that’s what this leader demonstrated by who he was he modeled this, he went first he was opening listened, what do you think I care about your opinion, and he modeled the behavior, then they focus on trusting they, you know, in a sense, modeling is like being trustworthy, then you need to then extend the trust be trusting, because you could have two trustworthy people working together, both trustworthy, and yet no trust between them. And neither person is willing to extend it to the other. So, you know, the first stewardship of addresses by a leader is modeling. In a sense, that’s trustworthiness. The second stewardship is trusting, extending that trust to other people so that you give them opportunities, bring out the best in them, help them grow and develop, and give them a chance to show their potential and their greatness and to develop it. And then the third, is inspiring. And the idea that inspiring others is a learnable skill. It’s not just for the charismatic, we’ve often conflated charisma and inspiration as if they’re the same. And, and, you know, I don’t know about you, Mike, but I know some people who are charismatic, but who aren’t necessarily inspiring, and trustful. Yeah, and I know other people who no one would necessarily describe as, quote, charismatic, but who are extraordinarily inspiring, because of who they are, and how they care and how they connect, but not necessarily charismatic. And so they’re not the same, inspiring others as learnable has a skill through connecting with people through this caring, and belonging, and then connecting people to purpose, and, and to meaning into contribution. Those things are learnable. So the point is, everyone can inspire it’s a learnable skill, and it is a stewardship or responsibility we have as leaders, to not only trust our people, but to inspire our people. So modeling, trusting, inspiring, those are the three steward ships of attrition inspire leader, and hence, you know, in the trust, inspire book, I kind of build that model throughout and give examples and stories of how we can become better at modeling and trusting and inspiring.

Mike Malatesta  57:52

And my final question for Stephen is, there’s early in the book, you tell a story about this particular area of Death Valley that did not receive rain for a long period of time. And in one year, one year in 2004 2005, I can’t remember six inches of rain happened the fall in a short period of time. And the the area went from sort of a barren sought to be dead area to, you know, green and life. And you I think you make the point is that, you know, it wasn’t dead, it was just dormant. And it it makes me wonder if you’re inside an organization, and you know that there’s no trust and no inspiration going on, and you’re not the leader, what you care about what’s happening, what, what would you recommend that people do? To to? You know, like anyone can inspire, right? So what do you recommend that people do? When they’re not the leader, but they’re in a situation where there’s just, there’s just, there’s, there’s too much command and control that say,


yeah, yeah, what you’re describing Mike is, is pretty common for a lot of us, you know, different times and different situations where, you know, maybe you’re in a command and control environment or have a command and control boss, or maybe the industry is very kinetic control. And there might be lots of reasons or maybe you’re just not the leader, maybe you’re a team member, not the team leader. And, and so my advice is that is that you always look in the mirror and start with yourself and I use the metaphor of the ripple effect, where the drop of water comes down. You And the ripples the waves, they start at the inside. And they ripple out. And so you work within your circle of influence. And maybe you just work on yourself, which is, I’m going to focus on my modeling my credibility, and then on my relationships, one on one, and I’ll, I’ll model behavior to those I work with. I’ll extend trust to those. And I’ll work on inspiring through my caring, and building a sense of belonging, even though I’m not a team leader. And then the point is, wherever you’re standing, you know, you live where you stand, you begin to, to model this, and let that ripple out from there. And you’ll be amazed at how it can impact and ripple out. And otherwise, we can become almost paralyzed by all the things outside of our, our control. And so I’ll come back to my father’s idea of in the seven habits of your circle of concern is broader, your circle of influence is more narrow, within that circle of concern. If you focus on your circle of influence, it will grow and expand if you focus on the circle of concern, the things that you’re concerned about, but can do nothing about your circle of influence will contract and narrow. So work where you’re at focus on becoming trust and inspire in your world. Maybe it’s just in your home, with your family, or in your neighborhood, or within your community, or on your team as a team member, or on your team as a team leader. And you’re rippled out from there. But don’t underestimate the power of this ripple effect. And what it can do. And so that’s the great thing is it’s empowering to everyone, wherever we’re at. And I make the point as well that everyone’s a leader. Leadership is a choice, not a position. And so you’re a leader in your home, your leader in your community, your leader in your neighborhood, your leader at work, even if you’re not having people report to you, leadership is a choice. And so we can all lead and help bring about the things that we’re seeking the change that we’re seeking, we can model it, we can model the behavior that we seek from others, we’re not getting it from our boss and this model, that to our boss and for our boss. And, the more credible you become, the more results your you get, and in a way that builds the trust and builds the relationships and grows the people. Then you’re giving others a model that they can look to and say, Aha, look what Mike’s doing. And look at the impact Mike’s having and, and, and you can become that model. We need models who can become mentors. We need models of trust and inspire leaders. I tried to name a number of them in the book from Satya Nadella at Microsoft who literally unleashed enormous potential talent unite a growth mindset for everyone and unleashed it you know, they go at model coach care is the same idea of model trust inspire, unleashing the greatness inside of people to Cheryl Bachelder what she did at Popeyes to turn them around and around. And you know, and to many, many others, we need models who can become mentors, and I just would challenge all of our listeners and viewers is become that model. For others in you know, maybe a reflection on this might be to think for each of us to think of a person you know, earlier on in this interview and this conversation. I like that this is a conversation. And that Mike, you’d kind of brought up, you know that there’s been command and control leaders in our lives that we’ve had, you know, managers and I’ve had them you’ve had them I bet most of our listeners or viewers have. But I’ll bet there’s also been some people in your life that you might describe as a trusted inspire leader, a parent’s a friend,


coach, clergy, someone in your life who believed in you, or maybe believed in you more than you believe in yourself, who took a chance on you who gave you an opportunity who trusted and inspired you? You mentioned John wall’s my first boss he was one took a chance on me when no one else did. My father did was this type of parent for me. I’ve had some trusted inspire leaders just like I’ve had command and control leaders and what that did to me when someone believes in me how I felt about it. I didn’t need to be managed. I became very inspired and self-motivated and it brought out the best in me and I wanted to prove the trust their belief in me justified I wanted to give back and, and sad so I bet we’ve all had something like that. So my invitation for all of us is as you reflect back on And a person who has done that for you. For home, could you become that kind of person for whom could you become a trust in His buyer, mentor, Rose, parent leader in your life, is there someone in your life that if you became a trust inspired person for that individual could have a profound impact on their life, just like someone has had on your life, to pay it forward. In other words, and that’s a way of thinking about this, that’s both backward looking. And we’re showing gratitude to those who had been crushing aspire for us and what that did for us. And I would encourage us, by the way, to thank that person, you’ll be amazed at what it does to them when they when you acknowledge them, and what they’ve done for you. But it does to them and what it does to you and you express it, then to look forward of how you can become that kind of person for another. And if you can do it with one, you could do it with many. And that’s a good starting point. And maybe an invitation for every, every one of our listeners to to identify a relationship in your life where you would like to become a trusted inspire person in that person’s life. And what am I do for them?

Mike Malatesta  1:06:15

That’s an amazing gift to leave us all with Stephen. One last thing I was thinking when you were saying to trustworthy people could not trust one another. If I’ve been thinking ever since you said that, in at least in the US, and probably most of the world 99.9999999% of people trust the other person at a traffic light or a stop sign to do what they’re supposed to do based on what the science says. Yep. And if you can trust 99.99999% of people to do that, how could you not trust them, or at least give them the benefit of trust to start a new relationship together? Right, they’re total strangers who have no vested interest in you one at all, but they do it, you trust each other. It’s so maybe a dumb example. But


it’s a beautiful example of really how our whole world runs on trust. Yeah, sound level because imagine if you didn’t, and couldn’t trust the person driving next to you. Yeah, it was every person for themselves. No one obeyed the laws, and it was just a free for all. You couldn’t go outside, you couldn’t go anywhere, it would be too risky, too dangerous. So our whole world runs on trust. And so we have that at some levels. It’s broken down in other ways. And but the point is, it’s a better way to lead, it’s a better way to live, it’s a better starting point. As I work with a colleague or appear to start with the premise, I start with trust, until proven otherwise, versus the other way around, which is I don’t trust anyone, until you prove that I can. That the problem with that is that life happens too fast. And people tend to reciprocate the Trust has given or withheld. So if you lead out and extend trust with others, they’ll tend to reciprocate and give it back, you can still do it in a smart way. You know, if you’re extending tracks, you can do it with expectations and accountability, so that it’s smart. But you’ll be amazed at what it does to people and how they respond to it, how they rise to the occasion how they perform better, and how they reciprocate and give it back to you. And it becomes this virtuous upward spiral. That’s kind of what needed to happen in my story of how to edit it happen. For me, I had to kind of earn that trust and give that trust. And I had to do both. And when I began to do both better, it came back to me and then we were able to do great things together.

Mike Malatesta  1:08:54

Well, Stephen, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. Thank you for writing this newest book of yours, trust and inspire how truly great leaders unleash greatness and others spin a wonderful conversation. I’m so glad that I had the chance to explore your story and, and just talk to you. It’s been great. I feel really good about it.


That thank you so much, Mike, I love the conversation as well. I appreciate you and what you’re doing and how you’re allowing and enabling people to tell their story that it happened for them. And there’s a beautiful premise, and I commend you. And I really think that this can help bring out the greatness in your listeners as they hear people sharing these stories of these experiences. So thank you. I love the conversation.

Mike Malatesta  1:09:43

You’re welcome everybody pick up the book trust and inspire, I suppose I suppose it’s available wherever you get books, everywhere. Yeah, everywhere. So get it. Trust and inspire. Stephen, thank you so much. Great to be


with you. Thanks, Mike.

Mike Malatesta  1:10:00

321 Just a quick note, before we start the show, you’ll notice that during the interview, I make a reference to incentives in particular Russian. Now a story about Russian nail production incentives that I’ve I thought was in. I thought I had read it in Stephens Book Trust and inspire but I’d actually read it in a newsletter The Curiosity chronicle earlier, the day that we record this so my apologies for the Miss reference

Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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I help entrepreneurs get unstuck, take back their power, achieve their life objectives, and create the futures they want.

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