Enhancing Leadership Credibility

Have you ever gone through a period where you feel as if you are lost in how or powerless to move a group forward? Have you ever considered the power of credibility as a leader? Many believe that credibility, or believability, is the cornerstone of good leadership. That without first establishing credibility as a leader, few will listen and even fewer will follow. It seems to make sense that if people don't believe or trust in you, then they won't believe in what you say.

Credibility Defined

So what is credibility? Simply, credibility is a psychological state of mind that exists when people believe what is said or done and gives credit based on consistency of actions. It's a belief system in where people will have degrees of faith with limited tangible evidence based on truth and proof. In other words, without credibility, leaders lose trust and employees disengage while directing their energies elsewhere. Once this happens, one must take action to prevent it from spreading like wildfire.

While considering your credibility, remember that leadership is personal. Ask yourself, do I trust myself? Do others trust me? Do I trust my manager? Before quickly answering these questions, ask yourself, am I willing to take responsibility for these answers? The more responsibility for your actions and words you are willing to accept, the more credibility you will have.

Damaging Your Credibility

Let's first look at how we damage our credibility.

  • Withholding important/relevant information
  • Speaking on topics as an expert which we don't know
  • Not delivering on promises
  • Not accepting responsibility or being accountable
  • Not staying in touch

Once we lose our credibility, we can't get it back (or it's mostly impossible). Additionally it is so easy to lose, leaders may not even know it's happening. Ask yourself, how many times have you inadvertently made contradictory statements? Or made a decision that unintentionally looked like you were not being responsible or transparent? Leaders today are at times overwhelmed with the volume of issues that are being addressed that it is easy to lose sight of the importance of credibility within an organization.

Enhancing Your Credibility

So what can you do?

First, keep in mind that withholding information creates anxiety/fear especially if your company is undergoing major changes. Leaders can earn credibility by communicating important/relevant information and being truthful/transparent whether the news in good or bad.

Second, if you don't the topic of discussion, admit it. Leaders can gain as much credibility by admitting they don't know something as compared to topics they are familiar with. In fact, the act of admitting you don't know shows the level of transparency and honesty a leader is willing to share.

Third, deliver on your promises. Leaders are only as good as their last promise and this is where they need to "walk their talk." This is also an area where faith becomes tangible and credibility is gained.

Fourth, be accountable and accept responsibility when mistakes are made. As with the previous bullet point, tangible faith goes a long way towards credibility. By admitting a mistake and articulating how you intend to fix the situation, you can then create an opportunity to follow through on your promises. Remember actions speak louder than words and the more you accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have (Brian Koslow)

Lastly, stay in touch. It is important to create relationships with those who put their faith in you and stay in touch. Many leaders lose credibility as they don't understand the importance of credibility maintenance with employees. There is nothing better than having that one-on-one conversation to keep in touch with what is important to the employee.

Final Thoughts

In the words of Winston Churchill, "If you are going through hell, keep going." Becoming a successful leader has many challenges, but if you lose your credibility, it's going to be hell. The challenge then is how to keep going. But it doesn't need to be that large of an obstacle if you catch it in time. Repairing minor dents in your credibility is much easier than you think if you are willing to admit your mistakes and have the conversation with those that are wavering in their belief of you. It's all about the relationship between those who lead and those who choose to follow and how that relationship is managed through loyalty, commitment, and responsibility. Remember "every action or perceived inaction will shape your credibility" ~ Mindy Hall


©  Darrielle Ehrheart | February 6, 2015

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