By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Quincy teachers and local business leaders learned about the importance of trust at a training session Monday kicking off the start of the school year.
The 90-minute session in the Quincy Junior High School auditorium was presented by Stephen M.R. Covey, author of the best-selling book "The Speed of Trust."
Covey is the son of the late Stephen R. Covey, who made "Seven Habits" a familiar expression in Adams County schools. He offered a motivational talk on the importance of trust in building successful schools and businesses.
"Everything is affected by the level of trust," Covey told a large audience consisting of school teachers, staff members and business leaders who paid a fee to hear Covey's presentation. His appearance was sponsored by the Quincy Public Schools Foundation and Titan International.
"Trust affects everything, and it changes everything," Covey said. "The best relationships are those in which people trust each other."
Covey said trust is the most important aspect of effective leadership.
"When there is high trust, communication tends to be open and free and natural," he said.
Trust in a leader also brings out the best in others and inspires them to work hard for the common good.
But when trust is missing, Covey said, communication suffers, and cooperation and motivation tail off.
"You can't partner with people you don't trust," he said.
In the business world, lack of trust can have a dire economic impact by creating less production and higher costs. But when trust is present, he said, speed improves and costs go down.
"It brings out the best in people," Covey said. "Speed happens when people trust each other."
He said creating an atmosphere of trust can lead to improved performance, with studies showing high-trust organizations routinely outperform low-trust organizations.
"This is playing out everywhere -- in our schools, in our businesses, in our communities," he said.
Year after year, the companies voted the 100 best businesses to work for invariably are rated high in trust levels by employees. In addition, Covey said, high-trust schools have a better chance of improving student test scores.
"Trust accelerates learning," he said. "Nothing engages people more than trust."
Covey said individuals can take steps to build up their trustworthiness. The two keys to creating trust, he said, are credibility and behavior.
Strengthening one's credibility in the eyes of others requires having integrity, showing the intent to do the right things, displaying the capability or competence to be successful, and producing results.
"Always start with credibility," Covey said. "Credibility is the foundation on which all trust is built."
Another important aspect of winning the trust of others is to extend trust to them. In other words, show you believe in others.
"One of the best ways to create trust is to give it," he said.
Covey said extending the message "I believe in you" will oftentimes bring out the best in those people and inspire them to work hard.
Covey's presentation was part of the first day of work for Quincy teachers. A second training day will be held Tuesday. Students will report to school for their first day of classes on Wednesday.
Teachers were welcomed back to school by Superintendent Steve Cobb, School Board President Stephanie Erwin, Quincy Education Association President Valarie Bordenkircher and the QPS Foundation's executive director, Julie Ross.
Cobb, beginning his second year as superintendent, encouraged educators to continue their good efforts to help provide a solid education to Quincy students.
"This year we are going to take another step on the journey together," he said. "We have opportunities to work hard and build trust in each other, with our students, with our parents and with our community."