Trust and Credibility


Habits for a Successful Career

Habit #3 – Build Trust and Credibility

“I don’t trust him/her as far as I can throw him/her”.  Everyone has heard or said that phrase.  So how important is TRUST and CREDIBILITY in a successful career?  Consider this. “With high trust, success comes faster, better and at a lower cost” says David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airlines.  What professional does not want to be successful – faster, better, and fairly compensated?

I have worked in all environments – low, moderate and high trust.  When I became an C-Level executive, I knew I needed to build and cultivate trust and credibility with my people, peers and other executives.  But how does one go about building trust and establishing it as a Habit? In the 90’s I was introduced to the writings and teachings of the late Stephen R. Covey and his son Stephen R.M. Covey.  Both have written, taught and consulted on the topic of trust.  I have used their concepts and adapted them to my Life Success and Career Success Values with much success.  Many of my thoughts below are elaborations and adaptations of their writings.

Trust is not just a touchy, feely concept.  Consider this definition of trust from the Covey’s:

TRUST = One’s Character + Ones’ Competency

Trust between people is a combination of a person’s:

Character – What you say/do, How you say/do, and  Why you say/do

Competency -  What you can do, What you do and What results you get

So why is competency required to build trust?  Don’t you just need to be a ‘good person’ – high character?  Let’s look at a doctor/patient relationship.  As a patient needing open heart surgery, would you trust a doctor that had good bed side manners and high personal integrity, but was in their first year as a cardiologist, and had never performed open heart surgery?  Wouldn’t you trust a doctor more experienced/accomplished to do the surgery?  Of course!

People build trust and credibility by building ‘wealth’ in what the Covey’s call an ‘Emotional Bank Account’, EBA.  As with any bank account one can add to the account with deposits and reduce the account with withdrawals.  Here are just a few examples of deposits and withdrawals people can make.


Deposits – Thinks Straight, Talks Straight; Listens to Understand; Manages Expectations; Works to Right Wrongs; Puts Employees First, Then Customers, Then Stockholders; Promotes Win/Win Decisions

Withdrawals -  Shows Disrespect; Listens to Respond; Does Not Trust Others; Talks Behind People’s Backs; Avoids Conflict; Talks the Talk, Does Not Walk the Walk; Shows Intolerance/Inflexibility


Deposits – Is Experienced/Accomplished; Keeps Commitments; Delivers Results; Manages Risks; Solves Root Cause of Problems; Promotes Continuous Improvements; Admits When Wrong or Does Not Know; Demonstrates Leadership

Withdrawals – Does Not Hold People Accountable; Makes Excuses; Blames Others; Does Not Take Responsibility; Sells Poor Ideas; Does Not Understand the Business; Does Not Measure Success; Is Reactive versus Proactive; Does Not Align with Business

So how can you objectively measure your EBA with colleagues? I use the Trust Quotient, TQ:

TQ = EBA Deposits / (EBA Withdrawals * 2.75)

That’s right – withdrawals are more expensive than a single deposit.  So you need almost 3 deposits to make up for a single withdrawal.