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Four Cores of Credibility That Build Trust
By Scott Morrell

When we think of trust, it's natural for us to think of it in terms of character, but it’s equally important to think of trust in terms of competence.  We might think a person is sincere, even honest, but if they don’t get results, we won’t fully trust them.  The opposite is also true.  A person may have a great track record of getting results, but if they do it in a dishonest way, we’re not going to trust them either (their credibility is lessened in our minds).  Trust is a function of two things:  character and competency.  And both are vital to building trust.


Let’s break these two areas down even further because building character and competency starts with building credibility.   Steven M.R. Covey, in The Speed of Trust (2006), suggests that when we understand the “Four Cores of Credibility” that are fundamental to building character and competency, we establish a foundation that builds and sustains trust.

Core 1: Integrity (character)

This is what most people think about when they think of trust.  To many, integrity means honesty.  A person has integrity when there is no gap between their intent and their behavior.  They act in harmony with their values and beliefs and live accordingly.  But integrity also includes humility.  A humble person is more concerned about what is right than being right, about acting on good ideas than having the ideas, about building the team than exalting self.  Being humble does not mean being weak, but recognizing principle and putting it before self.  Integrity also includes the courage to do the right thing-even when it’s hard.  


Core 2: Intent (character)

Intent grows out of our character.  It has to do with our motives, our agendas, and our behavior.  When we suspect someone may have a hidden agenda, we question their intention and become more suspicious of what they say and do.  However, when motives are straightforward and based on mutual benefit, when others see that we genuinely care not only for ourselves, but for the people we interact with, lead or serve, a foundation of trust is built because our intentions come from the heart.


Core 3: Capabilities (competency)

Capabilities are our abilities that inspire confidence-our talents, skills, knowledge and capacity.  They are the means we use to produce results.  They enable us to perform with excellence.  Our capabilities are vital to building credibility and inspiring the trust of others.  To remain credible in today’s world, we also need to constantly improve our capabilities; be willing to learn and grow.  We maximize our capabilities when we align with our strengths, keep ourselves relevant and know where we are going.


Core 4: Results (competency)

Results matter!  Results refer to our track record, our performance and our ability to get things done.  They matter to our credibility.  They matter to our ability to gain and maintain trust.  If we don’t accomplish what we are expected to accomplish, it diminishes our credibility.  We can’t be trusted.  On the other hand, when we achieve what is expected of us, we establish a reputation of performing, being a producer and trust is established.  Bottom line-without results we don’t have credibility-nor do we gain trust.


Here’s a few questions to contemplate how well you are establishing/building your Four Cores of Credibility:

  1. Integrity:  Do I genuinely try to be honest in all my interactions?  Do I "walk my walk"? Am I clear on my core values and am I comfortable standing up for them? 
  2. Intent:  How often do I discount what someone says because I question their intention?  What can I do to better communicate my intentions?  If I dig deep, what really are my motives and intentions interacting with others?
  3. Capabilities:  What capabilities do I have that make me credible and inspire trust? What is my attitude towards improving my current capabilities and gaining new ones? Am I relevant in my work or have I let myself become obsolete? What knowledge, skills and abilities should I sharpen at work?