Credibility: The Foundation of Leadership

Credibility implies one is trustworthy, believable, and worthy of following.

When you think about the foundation of an effective leader, you have to start with credibility.  When people know you, there is no chance of your being successful as a leader if you don’t have credibility with them.  If people can’t trust you to act in their best interest as a leader, they will not follow.  If people can’t rely on you to be honest, they will not listen.  If people can’t rely on you to be a person of integrity, they will not trust you.

Pursue building credibility through the following items and build that foundation of leadership

1.  Invest the time.  It won’t happen overnight.  Credibility comes in stages and takes time.  People have likely been led astray in the past and are naturally skeptical.  Invest time with people.  Communicate often.  Ask for input.  Be open about the basis for your decisions.  Keep the focus on the well being of the people being led.  

2.  Be honest with those you lead.  Don’t tell people what they want to hear.  Tell them what they need to hear.  Tell the truth, and tell it timely.  You are not there to be popular.  You are there to be effective in leading.  You can only do that by being honest with folks.

3.  Be reliable.  If you commit to something, do it.  If you tell someone you will get back to them, follow up.  Don’t promise or commit to something that you can’t live up to.  Be on time.  Be prepared.  Be consistent.  The people you lead need to know they can count on you regardless of the situation.

4.  Admit mistakes.  You will make mistakes.  You are human.  Admit them and move forward.  Don’t blame others, but rather take responsibility.  Take responsibility for the group in front of others.  You can deal with issues privately if needed, but publicly take responsibility.  Own your performance as well as that of your team. 
5.  Know your subject.  Be knowledgeable in the area of your responsibility.  Seek to continue to learn and expand your knowledge.  Your folks deserve to have a leader that is knowledgeable and growing in functional capacity. 

Credibility is essential if you are going to have influence.  People will follow leaders they trust.  People follow leaders that have the followers best interest in mind, not a selfish view of leadership power.  We need to be influencing others, and we are only going to do that if we have credibility with the people we lead.

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