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Live from the CHIME/HIMSS Forum: Stephen M.R. Covey Speaks to Healthcare CIOs about the Economic Value of Trust

March 3, 2013
by Mark Hagland
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Noted motivational speaker keynotes at the CHIME/HIMSS Forum in New Orleans

Stephen M.R. Covey, a noted motivational speaker and son of the famous Stephen Covey who wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, delivered an address on March 3 at the CHIME/HIMSS Forum in at the Hilton Riverside New Orleans hotel that spoke to one of the core leadership questions facing healthcare IT leaders these days: how can CIOs and other healthcare IT leaders motivate their colleagues in patient care organizations to help create transformational change with them?

Following a welcome to the assembled audience of about 550 attendees, primarily members of the Ann-Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives CHIME), a national association of over 1,500 healthcare CIOs and other IT executives and leaders, by George T. “Buddy” Hickman, executive vice president and CIO of Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center and CHIME’s board chairman, Covey spoke on the topic “Leading at the Speed of Trust,” in which he spoke of both the “quantitative” and “qualitative” aspects of trust-driven organizational success. He is the author of the 2012 book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything.

Citing widely publicized business studies that show that “high-trust” organizations significantly outperform their “low-trust” peers on a range of productivity and effectiveness measures, Covey explained the core differences between the two types of organizations.

“Trust,” Covey told his audience, “is a function of two things: credibility and behavior. You must always begin with your personal credibility, then move to the level of your team’s credibility, and then your organization’s credibility, because all trust is based on credibility.”

Stephen M.R. Covey

And just what is credibility, Covey asked rhetorically. Credibility, he said, is like a tree, which has roots, a trunk, branches and fruits. The roots of the tree are character-based, while the branches and fruits are competence-based.

Integrity and intent, Covey said, are the character-based roots and trunk of the tree. Consistently and continually demonstrating one’s integrity (honesty, truthfulness, value-based behavior) are the tree’s roots, while always displaying one’s intent (caring) are its trunk. These are the foundations for credibility. The branches and fruits of the tree come out of one’s capabilities (branches) and results (fruits).

Given the right combination of all those traits, continually demonstrated in a dynamic environment, Covey assured his audience, healthcare organizations can succeed brilliantly in their markets and move their organizations forward through the transformation being demanded by healthcare purchasers and consumers. Absent the trust that comes out of demonstrating those qualities at the personal and organizational level, healthcare organizations will lose the trust of their communities at a time when the American public has lost faith in institutions.

Covey’s address was the opening keynote speech in a day filled with speeches and presentations focused on leadership and change. Among the others urging the CHIME/HIMSS Forum audience forward were Judy Murphy, R.N., deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT; Fred Lee, bestselling author and nationally recognized expert and consultant in patient relations and service excellence; and Dan Gable, Olympic champion wrestler and championship coach. All of them spoke under the umbrella theme “Visionary leadership as Healthcare Evolves: Keeping CIOs Innovative, Strategic and Focused on the Challenges Ahead.”