Dec 21, 2015 | 3
Minute Read

5 Steps to Build Leadership Credibility


Credibility is a Matter of Degrees

Credibility isn’t an “either/or” type of thing; it’s a matter of degrees.

But very few people in a position of leadership can last any length of time without sufficient credibility. Credibility is endorsement by others. It’s used by leaders to get things done.

You may have been appointed to a position of leadership. You may have run for elected office or aggressively pursued a position within an organization or company. You may have self-proclaimed yourself the leader or founded a start-up.

But no matter how you arrived at your position of leadership, keeping it and thriving in it will be determined by the credibility you build along the way.

Few of us have instant credibility. Even those who are said to have “instant credibility" will most likely dispute the idea. But, make no mistake, leadership depends on it and more often than not, credibility is built over time. 

Here are a few ways to build credibility for yourself:


  1. Get and stay engaged with your team

    Leaders aren’t isolationists. Isolation leads to a narrow view of the world, and great leaders want the bigger picture. Seeing the bigger picture prevents too much emotional involvement in their own ideas, and leaders want to see a diversity of ideas.

    It’s all a matter of perspective, and a diverse team with diverse ideas can better solve the diverse problems we face in our organizations.

    Idea: Have more face-to-face conversations with your team. Engage them at every opportunity.


  2. Develop a listening ear

    Develop a listening ear by focusing on what the other person is trying to communicate rather than how they’re communicating it.

    When we fail to truly listen, we’re living in our own bubble. Listen to those who disagree, to those who have other ideas, and to those who offer encouragement. All are needed.

    Idea: Recognize others may not communicate in a way that matches your own. Adapt your own communication style to theirs and learn to hear what they’re trying to communicate to you.


  3. Treat team members like valued assets

    What makes one company different than another? It isn’t their patents, their technology, their products, their strategies, or anything that we’ve traditionally thought of as differentiators. It’s the people who work for you.

    The human “resources” you have working with you are the softest assets you have and they’re the ones who implement your tactics, define your strategies, produce your technologies, create your patents, and make your organization what it is.

    Treat others as valued assets, and even if your competitors copy everything you do, you’ll still have an edge.

    Idea: Remember that putting the right people into the right positions is the best competitive advantage you can generate.

  4. Emphasize your own personal accountability

    Personal accountability is THE most important competency anyone can bring to a position and for leadership credibility; it’s critical.

    Leaders without personal accountability are at risk to quickly fall into a victim’s mindset. Once they're stuck in that negative loop of self-pity thinking, it’s very difficult for a leader's followers to continue following. Who wants to get dragged down like that?Leaders scoring high in personal accountability are able to see when a negative occurrence is their fault. They don’t blame others, but rather accept responsibility and quickly seek a solution. They understand that failure is temporary and an opportunity to learn. They pick themselves up and begin anew.

    When a team sees this trait in a leader, credibility skyrockets.

    Idea: Take responsibility, avoid blaming others, and seek solutions. Learn from your mistakes.

  5. Produce desired results

    At the end of the accounting period, producing the desired results will build credibility as fast as the other four traits combined. No one is perfect and no one hits every goal every time, but leaders must begin generating a track record of producing the desired results.

    Your desired results may be anything from sales or net profit goal to employee turnover or customer service goals. It really doesn’t matter what it is. Yet, producing those results will build credibility amongst your team members.

    But do it with heart. Production without compassion and understanding is hollow.

    Idea: know what your organization’s “desired results” are and work to create a track record. You are what your track record says you are.

Credibility is the currency of leadership. With it, you can get more done — and get it done the right way.



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Ron Haynes