Credible Leadership Keys

Self Trust™ and the 4 Cores of Credibility™

To be an effective leader you need credibility…. Many leaders have the title. but not the skill, or ability to deliver ….

Credibility boils down to 2 questions.

  • First, Am I trust worthy to myself…. can I really trust myself.
  • Second,  Are my actions and bahaviors TRUSTWORTHY? am I someone who others can trust.

Covey’s work on trust is powerful for leaders.. He covers 4 “cores” that  are key to building credibility.

The four cores of Leadership Credibility

  1. Integrity
  2. Intent
  3. Capabilities
  4. Results.

Character cores of Leadership Credibility .

Integrity and intent

Competency cores of Leadership Credibility.

Capabilities and Results.

All 4 aspects are required for effective credibility. A leader with integrity that does  not produce results is not a credible leader. If you are not credible you are not trustworthy! Leaders are trusted to achieve.


Integrity (Character)

First Core is integrity.  Most of the major  violations of trust are violations of integrity.   Covey shares that integrity is more than just honesty. In addition to honesty, integrity is made up of 3 primary virtues.


  • Congruency is when one acts according to his values. It is when  there is no gap between what one intends to do and what one actually does.
  • Humility is the ability to look out for the good of others in  addition to what is good for you. Covey says, “A humble person is more concerned about what is right than about being right, about acting on good ideas than having the ideas, about embracing new truth than defending an outdated position, about building the team than  exalting self, about recognizing contribution than being recognized for  it.”



Courage is the ability to do the right thing even when it may be difficult. It is when you do what you know is right regardless of the possible consequences.

Intent (Character)

The Second Core: Intent springs from our character.        It is part of our value system. It is how we know we should act. Covey        breaks intent down to three things.
Motive is why you do what you do. The best motive in building        trust is genuinely caring about people. If you don’t care and have no        desire to care, be honest and let people know you don’t care. If you        don’t care but want to care, start doing caring things. Often, the        feelings will follow the actions.
Agenda stems from our motive. The best agenda is honestly        seeking what is good for others. Notice that your agenda is much more        than wanting what is good for others, but seeking what is good for        others.
Behavior is putting your agenda into practice. It is what we do        based upon what we intend to do and what we are actively seeking.        Behavior is where the rubber meets the road. Behavior is important        because it is what people see and judge. Telling someone you love them        is important, but showing them you love them is essential.         Covey gives three suggestions to improve intent. First, examine        and refine your motives. Second, declare your intent. Third, choose        abundance.


Capabilities (Competency)

The Third Core—Capabilities Capabilities are “the        talents, skills, knowledge, capacities and abilities that we have that        enable us to perform with excellence.” To help think about the various        dimensions of capabilities, Covey uses the acronym TASKS: Talents,        Attitude, Skills, Knowledge, and Style.
Talents are the things we naturally do well. These are the        things we usually love to do. Your attitude is how you see things. It is        how we are inside. Skills are the things you have learned to do well.        Covey does point out that it is easy to get so comfortable with our        skills that we never fulfill our talents. He suggests that talent is a        deeper well than skill. Knowledge is what you know and continue to        learn. Style is your unique way of doing things. It involves your        personality.
How to Increase Your Capabilities: First, follow your strengths        and your passions. Second, remain relevant by continually in- creasing        your knowledge and improving your skills. Third, know where you are        going. The people you lead will follow if you know where you are going.


Results (Competency)

The Fourth Core: Results.  People don’t trust people        who don’t deliver results. Results are the deliverables. They are what        you contribute to the company. You can’t hide from your results. He        states, “… if the results aren’t there, neither is the credibility,        neither is the trust. It’s just that simple; it’s just that harsh.”
There are three areas of results people look at to judge your        credibility. First, your past results: what you have proven you can do.        Second, your current results: what you are contributing right now.        Third, your potential results: what people anticipate you will        accomplish in the future.
How to improve your results: First, take responsibility for        results, not activity. Second, expect to achieve your goals. Assume you        will be successful. This assumption will translate into action. Third,        finish strong. “Results are all about finishing. You are probably aware        of the old adage; Beginners are many; finishers are few.”

Relationship Trust™ and the 13 Behaviors of High Trust™

Relationship        trust is all about consistent behavior.   People judge us on behavior        not intent. People can’t see our heart but they can see our behavior.
Building trust accounts There are several keys to “trust ac-         counts.” The fastest way to build a trust account is to stop making        withdrawals.   You also have to be aware that withdrawals are bigger        than deposits, each trust account is unique, there are two ways of        viewing a trust account (your way and their way), and what is a deposit        in one person’s account may be a withdrawal from another person’s        account.

1. Talk Straight

Say what is on your mind. Don’t        hide your agenda. When we talk straight we tell the truth and leave the        right impression. Most employees don’t think their bosses communicate        honestly. This creates a trust tax. This causes speed to go down and        costs to go up. We spend entirely too much time trying to decipher truth        from spin.         Straight talk needs to be paired with tact. There is no excuse        for being so blunt you hurt feelings and destroy relationships. Tact is a        skill that can be learned and when coupled with straight talk, will        build relationship trust.

2. Demonstrate Respect

The principle behind demonstrating        respect is the value of the individual. The behavior is acting out the        Golden Rule. Almost every culture and religion recognizes the value of        the Golden Rule. We should treat people the way we want to be        treated.   Our actions should show we care. They should be sincere.        People will notice if an action is motivated by a lesser reason or an        impure value. Respect is demonstrated in the “little” things we do        daily.

3. Create Transparency

Tell the truth in a way that can be        verified. Transparency is based on principles of honesty, openness,        integrity and authenticity. It is based on doing things in the open        where all can see.
Part of transparency is sharing information. If ever in        question, err on the side of disclosure. Rollin King, founder of        Southwest Airlines states, “We adopted the philosophy that we wouldn’t        hide anything, not any of our problems, from the employees.” That’s        transparency.

4. Right Wrongs

To right a wrong is much more than        apologizing. It involves making restitution. With customers it may        include that free gift along with the sincere apology. We have all been        to a restaurant where we received an apology along with a free dessert        or a coupon for something free the next time we eat there. It is the        principle of going the extra mile.  Some will justify their wrongful        behavior while others will try covering up their misdeeds. Both of these        attempts will not only fail to make deposits in trust ac- counts, but        are certain to make substantial withdrawals.

5. Show Loyalty

There are many ways to show        loyalty to your employees. Covey focuses on two. First, give credit to        others. As a leader you need to give credit to the individuals        responsible for success. A leader should never take credit for the hard        work of others. Just as bad is the one who gives credit to someone in        their presence, but then down-plays their contribution to others.
Giving credit to others is the right thing to do. It will foster        an environment where people are encouraged to be creative and        innovative. It will increase trust and have a direct impact on the        bottom line.
Second, speak about others as if they were present. Some people        think it builds relationships to talk about others. The opposite is        true. Talking about others behind their back will decrease trust with        your current audience.

6. Deliver Results

The fastest way to build trust        with a client is to deliver results. Results give you instant        credibility and trust. Delivering results is based on competence. “This        behavior grows out of the principles of responsibility, accountability        and performance. The opposite of Deliver Results is performing poorly or        failing to deliver. The counterfeit is delivering activities instead of        results.” Delivering results converts the cynics, establishes trust in        new relationships, and restores trust that has been lost due to lack of        competence. It is also the first half of covey’s definition of leader-         ship: getting results in a way that inspires trust.

7. Get Better

In today’s ever changing        environment one must continue to improve or become obsolete. You cannot        learn a skill and ride that one skill for 30 years. You have to        constantly be improving. When others see you continually learning and        adapting to change they become more confident in your ability to lead        into the future. Be careful not to be- come a life-long learner that        does not produce, or one who sees only one way to improve self and others.
Covey suggest two ways to get better. First, seek feedback from those around you. Second, learn from your mistakes.

8. Confront Reality

We cannot close our eyes to the        tough realities we face. If we are honest about the difficult issues and        are addressing them head-on people will trust us. We have to avoid the        temptation to avoid reality or act as if we are addressing the difficult        issues, while we are actually evading them.

9. Clarify Expectations

It is important to focus on a        shared vision of success up front. This is a preventative measure. When        expectations are not clearly defined up front, trust and speed both go        down. A lot of time is wasted due to leaders not clearly defining        expectations.
Failure to clarify expectations leaves people guessing. When results are delivered they fall short and are not valued.

10. Practice Accountability

In a 2002 Golin/Harris poll,         “assuming personal responsibility and account- ability” was ranked as        the second- highest factor in building trust. Great leaders build trust        by first holding themselves accountable then hold- ing others        accountable.
Holding yourself accountable includes taking responsibility for        bad results. It is often our natural response to blame others for        failure. When we fail, we need to look in the mirror.
Holding others accountable allows performers to feel good about        the job they are doing. It also in- creases trust by assuring performers        that slackers and poor performers will not pull them down.

11. Listen First

Listening before prescribing        builds trust. Trying to give advice before knowing all the facts is a        waste of time and simply not fair. You need to be careful not to learn        the mechanics of listening and leave the impression you are listening        when you really are not. Remember that communication is more than just        words, so you will have to listen to nonverbal messages as well. If a        person is displaying a high level of emotion, they don’t feel understood. Keep listening. Also, a person is not likely to ask for advice        until they feel you understand all the pertinent information. Don’t give        advice too early.

12. Keep Commitments

Covey re- fers to this as the “Big        Kahuna” of all the trust behaviors. When you make a commitment you        build hope. When you keep a commitment you build trust. Be careful when        making commitments. Make only the commitments you can keep. Also, don’t        be vague when making commitments.
There are implicit and explicit commitments, and violating        either is a huge withdrawal from the trust account. Be aware of the        commitment expectations. Some companies are strict with internal meeting        times and others are more flexible. Also, remember family commitments        are just as important if not more so than work commitments.

13. Extend Trust

The other behaviors help you        become a trusted leader; this behavior helps you become a trusting        leader. We should extend trust to those who have earned it. Be willing        to extend trust to those who are still earning it. Be wise in extending        trust to those who have not exemplified a character worth trusting.

Organizational Trust

The principle of organizational        trust is based on alignment. “All organizations are perfectly aligned to        get the level of trust they get.” If your organization is not reaping        the trust benefits it desires, you need to look at your structures and        your systems.
Symbols: Manifestation of Alignment. Symbols are more powerful        than rhetoric. “Symbols include everything from 500-page policy manuals        to top managers who park their expensive cars in re- served executive        parking spaces, to newly appointed CEOs who refuse to accept a pay        raise because it might send the wrong message to workers, to legends        such as Howard Shultz responding in a caring way when the Starbucks        employees were murdered…” Your symbols have to match your rhetoric, or        trust and speed will go down and cost will go up.

The 7 Low-Trust Organizational Taxes™

  • Redundancy:  Redundancy is unnecessary            duplication.  A costly redundancy tax is often paid in excessive            organizational hierarchy, layers of management and overlapping            structures designed to ensure control.

  • Bureaucracy:  Bureaucracy includes            complex and cumbersome rules, regulations, policies, procedures and            processes. One estimate put the cost of complying with federal rules and            regulations in the U.S. alone at $1.1 trillion more than 10 percent            of the GDP.

  • Politics:  Office politics divide a            culture against itself. The result is wasted time, talent, energy, and            money.  In addition, they poison company cultures, derail strategies and            sabotage initiatives, relationships and careers.

  • Disengagement:  Disengagement occurs            when people put in enough effort to avoid getting fired but don’t            contribute their talent, creativity, energy or passion.  Gallup’s            research puts a price tag of $250 billion – $300 billion a year on the            cost of disengagement.

  • Turnover:  Employee turnover represents            a huge cost, and in low-trust companies, turnover is in excess of the            industry standard – particularly of the people you least want to lose.             Performers like to be trusted and they like to work in high-trust            environments.

  • Churn:  Churn is the turnover of            stakeholders other than employees.  When trust inside and organization            is low, it gets perpetuated in interactions in the marketplace, causing            great turnover among customers, suppliers, distributors and investors.            Studies indicate the cost of acquiring a new customer versus keeping an            existing one is as much as 500 percent.

  • Fraud:  Fraud is flat            out dishonesty, sabotage, obstruction, deception and disruption – and            the cost is enormous.  One study estimated that the average U.S. company            lost 6 percent of its annual revenue to some sort of fraudulent            activity.

The 7 High-Trust Organizational Dividends™

  • Increased value:  Watson Wyatt shows high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations in total return to shareholders by 286 percent.

  • Accelerated growth:  Research clearly            shows customers buy more, buy more often, refer more and stay longer            with companies they trust.  And, these companies actually outperform            with less cost.

  • Enhanced innovation:  High creativity            and sustained innovation thrive in a culture of high trust. The benefits            of innovation are clear – opportunity, revenue growth, and market            share.

  • Improved collaboration:  High-trust            environments foster the collaboration and teamwork required for success            in the new global economy.  Without trust, collaboration is mere            coordination, or at best, cooperation.

  • Stronger partnering:  A Warwick            Business School study shows that partnering relationships that are based            on trust experience a dividend of up to 40 percent of the contract.

  • Better execution:  FranklinCovey’s            execution quotient tool (xQ) has consistently shown a strong correlation            between higher levels of organizational execution and higher levels of            trust.  In a 2006 study of grocery stores, top executing locations had            significantly higher trust levels than lower executing locations in            every dimension measured.

  • Heightened loyalty:  High-trust            companies elicit far greater loyalty from their primary stakeholders            than low-trust companies.  Employees, customers, suppliers, distributors            and investors stay longer.


    Market Trust

    Market Trust is based on the principle of reputation. When you see certain company logos, you have positive feelings based on experi- ence. Other company logos con- jure up negative feeling based on personal experience and/or repu- tation.
    “Brand” Matters on Every Level.  It is easy for us to see that corporations depend heavily on their brand name. However, other entities such as schools, governments and individuals rely heavily on reputation.

    The Speed of Trust in Building (Or Destroying) Reputation

    In the global market, trust can be built or destroyed at incredible speed. In a 2005 study conducted by Harris Interactive which ranks the 60 most recognizable companies in America, Johnson & Johnson ranked first for the seventh straight year. However, Google ranked third. Google has only been in business seven years. Of course trust can also be destroyed at warp speed.   WorldCom was 59th on the list and Enron was 60th.
    To increase market trust, apply the 4 cores and the 13 behaviors at the organizational level. Also put on your trust glasses and ask the following questions about your organization:
    1. Does my brand have integrity?             2. Does my brand demonstrate good intent?             3. Does my brand demonstrate capabilities?             4. Is my brand associated with results?

    Societal Trust

    Societal Trust is based on the principle of contribution. During the 1992 L.A. riots sparked by the Rodney King trial many neighborhoods were burned and looted. Amazingly, all McDonald’s remained untouched. When asked why, the people in the community responded by saying they would not want to harm a company that gives so much back to the community. They received a huge trust dividend base on their contribution to society.

    Fish Discover Water Last

    Fish discover water last because water “just is.” They are surrounded by it. They don’t come to see the importance of water until it is polluted or nonexistent. Humans often discover the essential nature of trust only when it is polluted or nonexistent.

    The Principle of Contribution

    Contribution is the intent to create value instead of destroying it. It is when we give back instead of take. Many high profile individuals have given back huge amounts of money and time. Bill and Melinda Gates started a charitable foundation. Two weeks later Warren Buffett donated $30.7 billion dollars to the Gates’ foundation. Oprah Winfrey created the “Angel Network” and has been instrumental in building schools in eleven different countries. Buckminster Fuller used to pay his company’s bills, then give away any additional funds. He said, “If you devote your time and attention to the highest advantage of others, the Universe will sup- port you, always and only in the nick of time.”
    Businesses are seeing the value in giving back to society. This includes giving money but also in- corporates a spirit of societal benefit into the very fabric of the business.
    The idea of corporate social responsibility is nothing new. It was originally the framework of the free enterprise system. Adam Smith, father of the free enterprise, stated that for a society to be prosperous people had to com- pete for their own self-interest within the framework of intentional virtue. When companies try to make a profit at any cost, trust is lost and the company will eventually fail.
    Global citizenship is an economic necessity and an individual choice. One must see the value of contribution then make a concerted effort to contribute.

    Extending Smart Trust™

    There is a trust spectrum and a trust matrix. The trust spectrum is divided into three sections. On the far left you have distrust or suspicion. In the center you have smart trust which is characterized by judgment. On the far right hand side you have gullibility or blind trust.
    The Trust Matrix (pictured at the right) describes four quadrants of trust. The vertical axis is a meas- ure of one’s propensity to trust. The horizontal axis is a measure of degree of analysis.
    Zone 1 is characterized by gullibility. This is a person with a high propensity to trust combined with low analysis.
    Zone 2 is characterized by judgment. This is one with a high propensity to trust combined with a high degree of analysis. This is the ideal quadrant.
    Zone 3 is characterized by indecision. This is one with a low propensity of trust coupled with a low degree of analysis. Zone three is the worst zone. It is high risk and low reward.
    Zone 4 is characterized by a low propensity to trust coupled with a high degree of analysis. This zone will decrease trust and speed. It limits collaboration and team- work. At the end of the day you are left with a single point of view (yours) which may be skewed.
    Many competent managers never become leaders because they never learn to extend trust. They live in the suspicion quadrant. Many of them pay lip service to the concept of extending trust, however they continue to micromanage. “They don’t give others the stewardships (responsibility with a trust) that engage genuine ownership and accountability, bring out people’s greatest resourcefulness, and create the environment that generates high-trust dividends.
    The number one responsibility of all leaders is to inspire trust.

    Restoring Trust When it Has Been Lost

    Some say trust can never be restored. While it is best never to break trust, trust can be restored— and often even enhanced.
    It is harder to overcome a loss of trust based on a violation of character than competence. Let’s look at building trust in each of the five Waves.
    Societal Trust— can and often is restored. After the Enron and WorldCom scandals a study showed an employee’s trust in management to be 44 percent. A few years later it was 51 percent.
    Market Trust—sometimes when you violate trust with a customer, you lose that customer forever. Other times the incident, when handled correctly, actually builds trust.
    Organizational Trust— Covey uses himself as an example of restoring organizational trust. When he took over at the Covey Leadership center, he questioned the educational department’s ability to deliver profits. He violated some of the 13 behaviors, including not talking about others behind their back. More accurate numbers