“If you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message.”
—Jim Kouzes, co-author of Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It
When people trust and believe in you as a leader, they’ll follow you far and without much question. But without credibility, that critical foundation of leadership, you face an uphill battle, because you’ll have the extra strain of trying to pull people along with you. And whether you’re the one pulling or the one being pulled, pretty soon you’re both weary and ready to give up.
What is credibility and how do you know if you have it?
Credibility stands on three legs: expertise, trustworthiness and integrity.
It also has an intangible quality to it; one that must be felt and then expressed from the inside out.
- Expertise is based on your credentials and prior accomplishments that can be qualified with objective measures.
- Trustworthiness is a subjective judgment, formed over time from a person’s experience interacting with you. Do you do what you say you’re going to do? Do you know what you say you know? How does it feel to work for you or with you?
- Integrity is another subjective judgment, formed over time from a person’s observations of you. Do you walk your talk, or do you say one thing and do another? Are you honest? Do you admit and take responsibility for your mistakes?
You may think you have a pretty good sense of your credibility among your team members, but what are they really thinking?
One of the best ways to truly know how people are experiencing, observing and judging you as a leader is to conduct a 360° assessment. Named for the 360 degrees of a circle, this type of assessment measures your performance from the perspective of everyone you work with, including your direct reports.
It takes courage to enter into this process. You may not like everything you hear, and it may highlight some things that need changing. And that’s exactly why bringing credibility issues to the surface is such a crucial matter.
On the other hand, you may be doing most everything right, but your credibility in the eyes of your team members is still not where it needs to be. It may be that they don’t see what you’re doing. They may need more engagement and “face-time” with you.
Or it may be that you don’t see what you’re not doing.
This is because credibility lives inside of us before it is expressed to the outside world. The degree to which we have credibility is first understood by whether we are credible with ourselves. Not just understanding the meaning of the words “expertise, trustworthiness, and integrity,” but living them. This is often hard to see in ourselves because we all have blind spots.
Ask yourself these questions:
- “Do I know what it feels like to possess those qualities because I feel them about myself?”
- “Does my body language, stance, posture, and vocal modulation reflect these qualities?”
- “Do I possess the self-awareness to know when I may not be acting consistent with these qualities?”
If credibility may be a factor in why you are not getting the results you desire, I want to hear from you. Please post your comments here.
If you want to learn more about how to build the inner body of credibility, I invite you to take the Step Up Leader I.Q. Quiz at http://www.StepUpLeader.com Your “Influencer Quotient” score will offer you a snapshot of where you are so you can make an informed choice of what to do next.