Book of the month

The Code of Trust: An American Counterintelligence Expert’s Five Rules to Lead and Succeed
by Robin Dreeke and Cameron Stauth

The Code of Trust“You don’t work for your country by being greedy and playing dirty, day after day.” In this book, FBI agent Robin Dreeke delivers a pragmatic, patriotic recipe for the key ingredient of leadership: trust.

With the assistance of Cameron Stauth, Dreeke, a veteran of the bureau with direct experience in securing confidences among reluctant respondents, begins with a provocative brace of challenges: “First: Be eminently worthy of trust. Second: Prove you are.”

As if that weren’t difficult enough, there are built-in obstacles: just as we would trust few people with our lives or bank accounts, so few people trust us. How to inspire more to do so and thereby gain not just trust, but allegiance? Be more considerate. Put other people first. Listen without thinking of the next clever thing to say. It’s not exactly Machiavelli, it’s sometimes simplistic and often repetitive, and the presentation is a little formulaic, but Dreeke’s set of rules is eminently practical and, if actually put into practice, would yield a measurably more pleasant world.

Fittingly, many of his examples come from the oddly rule-governed world of espionage. If you’re shady, he notes, you can build trust among a network of spies, “but it’s a weak, fake type of trust, built on lies, manipulation, and coercion, and it can topple overnight.” Given all the headlines about manipulation and backroom dealing these days, it’s a useful observation that high-level leaders should consider, but, in the main, the book is meant for ordinary people who seek to build their leadership skills.

There, Dreeke proves a worthy guide, making observations that might go without saying if we lived in better times but that bear repeating – for example, “common decency is the common ground of humankind”, and “a terrible deficit in our current culture is the lack of the civil give-and-take that has expanded individual and societal intelligence for thousands of years.”

Previous books of the month