Comparing Trust Models Based on The Nine Habits Of Trust

The Nine Habits of Trust by The Trusted Executive is a trust model based on building trust as a leader in your organisation.

We have reviewed other trust models and compared them to our own.


By Ken Blanchard

A – Able (demonstrate competence)
B – Believable (act with integrity)
C – Connected (care about others)
D – Dependable (maintain reliability)

By implementing the above, a manager can work on building a good and long-lasting relationship of trust with his employees and colleagues. The ABCD is the foundation for the so-called ‘language of trust’. The more managers, the more reliable they will become to their employees and the rest of their environment.


By American Express

Consistency – Trust requires consistency because we can’t trust anything or anyone that we can’t repeatedly count on. Inconsistency erodes trust because it’s not predictable, dependable or reliable—it creates doubt, which is a signal not to trust. If we say one thing and do another, if we don’t hold ourselves responsible and accountable for following through on promises made, if we don’t offer transparency and enable others to know exactly where we stand, there will be no trust.

Competence – Trust requires competence because we can’t trust anything or anyone that can’t solve our problem, or get the job done. If we don’t have the capability to accomplish what others expect, there can be no trust. Incompetence—defined simply as long on promise and short on delivery—erodes trust, because it undermines credibility. When we are untested and unknown, establishing credibility begins with demonstrating competence.

Caring – Trust requires caring because we can’t trust those we believe don’t care about us. Caring is the softer side of trust, the most intangible, and often the most difficult to demonstrate (and growing more difficult with each new technological advance). But the practical aspects of caring aren’t complex. We just need to exhibit sincerely the kinds of behaviors that tell others we care: responsiveness, confidentiality, empathy, objectivity, collaboration, self-disclosure, attentiveness, etc.


By Harry Hoopis

Competency – Do I trust that you know what you are doing? Of the four pillars, this one is the least important, according to LIMRA’s research, because the consumer assumes you know what you are doing and maintains that opinion until you prove otherwise. Your commitment to lifelong learning is the best way to avoid proving otherwise.

Dependability – Do I think you will do what you say? This pillar demonstrates why it’s important to follow up with clients and prospects: You want your clients to think of you as dependable. Always do what you say you will. Clients will leave, often without telling you, if you do not. You may not get a second chance to keep a promise. That is what trust is about. Send thank-you notes and discovery agreements to prove that you follow up.

Integrity – Do I trust that you will not steal from me? Many people have the attitude of “I will start letting my guard down when people stop giving me reasons to keep it up.” People like anecdotes because they can relate to them. Learn to share true stories that help people understand that you would never steal from them or give them bad advice. Tell them a story of what another client said about how honest and sound your advice was for them.

Benevolence – Do I trust that you will take care of me? Again, tell your prospects how you take care of your clients. Tell them about the services you provide dependably, and tell them you are committed to delivering those services for many years to come.


By Dr John Blakey, Founder, The Trusted Executive

Following six years of research at Aston Business School, the Nine Habits of Trust model has emerged as the only academically verified behavioural model of trust. Armed with these habits, leaders can build high trust teams and high trust organisations that deliver the triple bottom line of results, relationships and reputation.

The Nine Habits are grouped together under the three pillars of ability, integrity and benevolence.

Trustworthiness = ability x integrity x benevolence

This formula highlights that a leadership team needs to work on all nine habits in parallel since any blind spots will result in a trust deficit.

Nine Habits of Trust model

Three Habits of Ability:

Deliver – This habit involves getting the job done on time, on budget and to the right level of satisfaction for the customer. If you can’t deliver then it will be hard to trust you. Habit No.1 is the passport into the rest of the trust game.

Coach – Coaching is being able to teach others to deliver through sharing your knowledge and developing their skills. This habit involves the skills of listening, asking powerful questions and empowering others.

Be Consistent – Inconsistency is a trust killer. If you deliver 99 days out of 100 and then it all falls apart on the 100th day, it will be the 100th day that people remember. Consistency isn’t sexy or glamorous, but it’s core to trustworthiness. Three habits focused on building your integrity:

Three Habits of Integrity:

Be Honest – The bar on honesty is rising all the time. Any transgression can severely damage your reputation. People are watching 24/7, looking for cracks in the honesty habit, whether it’s in your business life or your personal life.

Be Open – Being open is about having transparent communication, being clear about why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s also about showing vulnerability and being able to own up to your shortcomings and mistakes.

Be Humble – Humble leaders admit their part in failures, not seeking to claim all of the glory and putting the company and team ahead of themselves. This habit will help others feel like they work with you, not for you.

Three Habits of Benevolence:

Evangalise – Leaders who exercise this habit set a positive tone and inspire confidence in others. They have the unwavering belief that the mission will be successful and they share this message with the team and with the wider stakeholders.

Be Brave – Do you have the moral courage to stick your neck out and to stand up for what you believe in? This is the type of bravery that builds trust when people know that you will do the right thing, even if it could have negative personal consequences.

Be Kind – An act of kindness takes an instant of time but requires great thought. Saying ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ can have a dramatic effect on the morale and well-being of staff. Random acts of kindness, especially when they are unexpected, can instantly change people’s attitudes in a positive way.

At The Trusted Executive, we have developed unique expertise in using the Nine Habits model to inspire, measure and develop board-level trust. For more details, see: