“Credibility makes a difference, and leaders must take it personally. Loyalty, commitment, energy, and productivity depend on it” -Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, The Leadership Challenge
Many people have experienced a situation in which they have been skeptical about the abilities of their boss, manager, or leader. Sometimes there have been overt actions by the leader that are the cause of this doubt. However, more often than not, the root of such uncertainty about the leader’s ability is a lack of credibility.
The Oxford Dictionary defines credibility as the quality of being trusted and believed in, and of being convincing and believable. These are qualities that are absolutely necessary for leadership, for as Kouzes and Posner commented in The Leadership Challenge, “If you don’t believe the messenger, you won’t believe the message.”
The foundation of credibility lies in the congruency between your words and actions. Your followers will quickly pick up on any inconsistency between your words and actions, and subsequently your credibility will suffer. People need to believe in their leaders, knowing that they can be trusted, and that they have the expertise to lead.
People want to know that their leader has a vision, a clear idea about what is a desirable destination for the team or organization. Credibility is built when a leader is focused on a vision, and inspires and guides the team towards that end result. Equally important for the vision to be realized the leader must engage and encourage their followers in the cause. People want to be involved in meaningful work.
A key component to establishing trust between yourself and others is honesty. Offering truthful and transparent communication goes a long way towards gaining respect of others. Honesty can also include being accountable for your actions. If you make a mistake, admit it. As Kouzes and Posner commented, “we simply don’t trust people who can’t or won’t disclose a clear set of values, ethics, and standards and live by them.”
People wish to follow someone who is knowledgeable, experienced, and has the ability to get things done. If a leader is viewed as competent the more likely people will trust their abilities, thus increasing their confidence in the credibility of the leader. Competence does not necessarily relate to only technical expertise, but rather to the leader’s relevant experience and knowledge of the business operations and people skills.
Regardless of your role or position within an organization it is of great importance to continue building your credibility. Demonstrating vision, honesty, and competency in your everyday actions will foster trust, strong professional relationships and improved performance for you, the team, and the organization.