What are Core Qualities (taken from Core Qualities Gateway to Human Resources by Daniel Ofman ISBN 90 5594 240 5)
Core qualities are attributes that form part of a person's essence (core); people are steeped in these qualities, which place all their - more or less striking - competences in a certain light. A person is 'colored' by his or her core qualities. It is their strong point, the characteristic that immediately comes to mind when we think of this person. Examples of core qualities are determination, consideration (for others), precision, courage, receptivity, orderliness, empathy, flexibility, etc. Core qualities are expressions of the Self that generate inspiration. They are not so much characteristics as possibilities that can be 'tuned in to'. Just as radio sound quality is partly determined by fine-tuning it to the right wavelength, so, too, does a person become more inspiring when he is tuned in to his own core qualities. And just as the capacity of the amplifier affects the final sound quality, so too, does the creative capacity of a person partly determine the impact he has on his surroundings.

Core qualities can be recognized as a person's special qualities, about which they themselves will say: 'But everyone can do that!' Everyone cannot and what is more, if the underlying core quality were to be removed, the person would be unrecognizable. That is because all competences are infused with this core quality. The core quality is always potentially present. It cannot be switched on and off at will, although it can be concealed. The main distinction between qualities and competences is that qualities come from inside and competences are acquired from outside. Competences can be learned; qualities can be developed. The clearer the image we have of our core qualities, the more consciously we can apply them to our work. Someone whose core quality is, for example, perseverance, knows he or she will function particularly well in situations that require staying power, and that he/she will always be able to 'hang in there', both at work and at home. Whether this principle will actually be applied in private life is another matter entirely. Training and educational courses can teach people certain competences that will enable them to function more effectively in different situations. The question remaining is: How should this be done? How do I ensure that my competence of leadership is flexible and effective? What is the best way to instruct, the most effective way to convince? And so on. These question can only be answered on the basis of self-knowledge, in other words, from an awareness of one's own specific core qualities. A leader whose core quality is perseverance will color the 'telling' style of leadership with tenacity, while someone whose core quality is thoughtfulness will tint this style quite differently. The more insight you have into your own core qualities and those of others, the easier it will be to integrate the different leadership styles into your own personality. The better a competence is adapted to the core quality, or in other words, the more fully the competence can be imbued with the core quality, the more credible and inspirational it will be. The effectiveness of a competence is primarily determined by the extent to which the person is himself and behaves authentically.

Core Quality and the Pitfall
Just as there is no light without darkness, there is also a light and a dark side to every core quality. The dark side is also called distortion, which is not the opposite of the core quality as active is the opposite of passive and strong the opposite of weak. Distortion is rather the result of an overdeveloped core quality. The core quality 'helpfulness', for example, can become 'interference', if overdeveloped and turned into a weakness instead of a strength.


This is popularly called 'too much of a good thing', which expresses it perfectly. Someone who is too careful risks becoming fussy, and flexibility can easily go too far and be experienced by others as inconsistency, which is something a flexible person is likely to be accused of more than once. The distortion of someone's core quality is also his or her 'pitfall'. This pitfall is a label the person is often given by others. For example, a person whose core quality is decisiveness is reproached for being pushy.


Whether or not this is right, the pitfall just goes with the core quality; they are inextricably bound. Core quality and pitfall go together like light and darkness. Facing the dark side of our core quality can be painful, especially if it appears that we are less perfect than our 'idealized self-image' suggests. Learning to handle our core qualities and their distortions and becoming more aware of our positive inner potential is a process that, with the right intention, can be both instructive and fascinating.
Just as the distortion can be determined on the basis of the core quality, we can also return to the core quality from the distortion, although this is usually more difficult, especially if it bothers people. It may be hard to imagine a positive core quality behind this distortion. Besides, we are not used to looking for positive things. For example, of what positive attribute is sentimentality the pitfall? It could be empathy, but there are also other possibilities. If you do not know your core quality/qualities, there is only one way to discover it/them, and that is by asking yourself what people often reproach you for, in the sense of: 'Don't be such a..'. or 'Don't be so..'. Then ask yourself of what positive quality this is an excess, and there you have one of your core qualities.

Core Quality and the Challenge
Besides a pitfall, a person's core quality also comes with a 'challenge'. The challenge is the positive quality diametrically opposed to the pitfall. For example, the pitfall of pushiness may offer 'patience' as a challenge.


As the figure shows, the core quality and the challenge are complementary qualities. Striking the right balance between insistence and patience is what matters. Too much decisiveness can turn into pushiness, and to prevent the pitfall it is advisable to develop the challenge.
Creating balance means thinking in terms of 'and-and' instead of 'either-or'. The secret is to be both decisive and patient at the same time. It is not a matter of becoming less decisive out of fear of being pushy, but to develop a patient decisiveness. Someone who is patiently decisive no longer runs a risk of being pushy, which is a logical consequence of his or her being 'whole' in this respect. The problem is often to be able to see how the two qualities can be combined. It seems to be either a matter of decisiveness or patience. The person in question considers these qualities more as opposites than complements.
Pitfalls and challenges are usually the sources of conflicts a person has with his or her environment. Conflicts, irritation and mutual tension are often born of blindness to one's own qualities (and their distortions) and those of others.

Core Quality and the Allergy
As previously mentioned, potential conflicts with the environment can often be deduced from a person's core qualities. The problem is that the average person appears to be allergic to an excess of his or her challenge, particularly if personified in someone else.


Decisive people will often blow their top if confronted with passivity in another. They are allergic to passivity, because it is an excess of their challenge (= patience), and they often do not know how to handle it.
The more another confronts you with your own allergy, the greater your chance of falling into your pitfall. If your core quality is decisiveness, you run the risk of becoming even more pushy, while reproaching the other person for being passive, etc. This can become a vicious circle which will be very hard to get out of without outside help. You risk reinforcing each other and ending up in a hopeless conflict.
In other words: look out for your pitfall when you spot your allergy in another. It is not their pitfall, but by their allergy, that makes people most vulnerable, because this is what drives them into their pitfall.


The core quadrant is not just a tool for discovering your own and others' core quality and challenge, it also demonstrates that it may very well be that any person can learn most from the people he or she dislikes most (is allergic to) or, in other words:
Something you are allergic to in someone else is probably an excess of a quality you yourself need most. A manager can learn most (about himself) from those with whom he has the greatest problems interacting.

Core Quality and the Allergy
Core quadrants can be constructed from any of the four angles and checked in various ways. In some cultures people find the approach via the core quality the most difficult, partly due to the fact, already mentioned, that in some cultures it is unusual to say something positive about yourself. In such a culture it is much easier to criticize both yourself and others. This makes the second approach to the core quadrant easier. Most people can tell you exactly what they are regularly accused of, or what labels they are given, just or not, by other people. To find your pitfall, you only have to ask yourself what your partner pins on you regularly. The core quadrant can be completed using this approach. The core quadrant can also be constructed further from a third approach: via the challenge. What quality would help you become a more balanced and more complete person? For many people, this question is not easy to answer either. It may be easier to ask yourself what quality you usually admire in others. This tends to be your challenge. The fourth and simplest possibility for working out the core quadrant is through the allergy approach. Most people have no trouble pointing out what they cannot stand (in others). The last 'angle' of the quadrant to be filled in can be double-checked, because its quality or distortion must correspond to the other three angles. A complete overview of the different options to enter a core quadrant is found in the following diagram. It is this diagram which is the essence of www.corequalities.com.


Total Core Quadrant
© Daniel Ofman