The World of Work Project

Blanchard’s ABCDs of Trust

Ken Blanchard says that trustworthy people are: Able, Believable, Connected and Dependable (ABCD). They also feel more personally included at work, make better leaders and build better relationships. These skills can be learned. 

Summary by The World of Work Project

Blanchard’s ABCDs of Trust

Trust is a important for effective relationships and is essential for great leadership. It doesn’t come naturally but needs to be earned through trust-building actions and behaviors. Similarly, it can be easily lost through trust-breaking actions and behaviors.

Trusted individuals feel happier and more included at work than those who not trusted.

In addition to being helpful for leading and building relationships, Blanchard calls out that individuals with low trust and individuals with high trust have very different personal experiences at work. Low trust individuals feel isolated, excluded, emotionally rejected and more alone than higher trust individuals.

Blanchard’s four components of trust

Blanchard proposes that there are four key components that contribute towards how trustworthy someone is, and says that by focusing on these areas that individuals can become more trustworthy, build more effective relationships and become better leaders. Blanchard’s four building blocks of trust start with the letters ABCD. They are: Able, Believable, Connected and Dependable.


Ability is fundamentally about skills and knowledge. To be trustworthy about about a specific subject, particularly in the world of work, an individual needs to be able to demonstrate understanding of the subject and capability to perform tasks associated with it. If they cannot demonstrate this, then there is no reason to trust their views or advice in relation to this subject. 

Believable and dependable

Believability is about honesty and integrity and dependability is about doing what you’ve said you’ll do.

To be trustworthy in relation to commitments they have made, an individual needs to be honest in both word and action. They need to do the things they’ve said they’d do, when they said they’d do them and to the quality they committed to achieve. If their words are dishonest, or their actions don’t reflect their words, then there is no reason to trust them.

If we can’t trust someone, we won’t believe them when they say things and we don’t depend on them to do things.

People need human connections for trust


Connection is about building human relations with others. To be trustworthy in relation to thoughts and feelings an individual needs to share their own emotions and acknowledge, and respect, the emotions of others. If they only operate at an unemotional, impersonal and transactional level, we find it hard to understand and predict their actions, which makes it hard to get to know and trust them.

Building and Breaking Trust

While the ABCD model is helpful as a framework for understanding the high level factors that can affect trustworthiness, it’s also worth considering some specific actions that affect trust. Below we’ve pulled together two simple lists as examples of actions that can help to build or which can break trust in relationships.

Overlap with Other Trust Models

There are several models of trust in existence, most of them basically say the same thing, though perhaps through slightly different language. We’ve considered the models in an overview, but have also included a high level comparison here.

The World of Work Project View

This framework lays out some building blocks of trust and helps explain how you can build trust.

While we think that building trust is a very important thing to do, we also think that the underlying intentions and purpose behind the desire to build trust are also very important.

In our view, building trust for your own self-interest actually undermines your believability and connectedness, thus also your trustworthiness. People are smart and observant and will lose trust in anyone they think is trying to manipulate them for personal gain. It might be worth looking at personality & character ethics to learn more.

Overall we think this model is fine and can be helpful, we just reiterate that intention is important.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This post is based on interpretations of work originally produced by Ken Blanchard and published in the book “Trust Works!“.


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