Credibility in Leadership

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What is credibility?

Credibility is the quality of being trusted and having a good reputation. When people believe that their leaders have integrity, they believe that those leaders will be able to lead them in the right direction. Leaders who have integrity are not self-centered or greedy about power. Instead, they have altruistic motives and want what is best for all people.

Why is credibility important in leadership?

Credibility is important in leadership because it affects the ability of the leader to communicate with and lead people. If a leader does not have integrity or if there is not an appearance of integrity, then followers will have no trust in that individual’s motives or intentions. This lack of trust will interfere with the necessary communication that is needed for leadership to be effective. Even with great ideas, leaders without credibility will not be able to communicate their views effectively with followers. Credibility is vital in building trust both within an organization and with external stakeholders.

What takes away from your credibility as a leader?

The three biggest detriments to a leader’s credibility are:

(1) lack of integrity,

(2) hypocrisy,

(3) greed.

Leaders without integrity will be unable to earn the trust of their followers because they cannot manage their own behavior. People who preach one thing but act differently are dubbed hypocrites. Finally, leaders who are too motivated by personal gain will not be seen as altruistic and do not have the interests of their followers at heart.

Personal credibility and leadership credibility: what’s the difference?

A personal reputation is built on who you are as an individual. It comes from your actions and behaviors, which build up or tear down that reputation. A leader’s personal credibility becomes more complicated when there are individuals involved that must be led, many of whom may not know the leader personally. Leadership credibility is developed by making a conscious effort to establish a good reputation, one that is based on qualities and skills in addition to a leader’s personal characteristics.

Credible leaders: what do they have in common?

Credible leaders are typically strong communicators who are able to advance their ideas, values, and agendas. Furthermore, credible leaders are consistent in both policy actions and communications about that policy. While all credible leaders need authority or power to be effective, this isn’t the most important factor when looking at credibility. Credible leaders possess both integrity and trustworthiness.

The following qualities are important for establishing credibility as a leader:

1. Be faithful to the promises you make;

2. Promote open communication;

3. Show your values in action;

4. Show that you value different opinions, encourage dialogue about ideas;

5. Focus on achieving goals by working with others, not against them;

6. Know when to compromise.

Effective leadership requires followership. Be sure that you are able to establish your credibility as a leader before expecting it from those who will be working for you or following your direction. Leadership is an important quality in any successful business and if done right, can help define the company and its success.

What does it take to become a credible leader? Is there a certain personality type that is better suited for leading instead of, say, following?

There is no specific personality type that makes someone more suited for leadership than following. People who like to lead come from all walks of life and all personalities. Sometimes people lead by example and sometimes they lead through their ability to communicate. Being a leader is more about having the qualities and characteristics that make someone effective in leading than anything else.

What personal characteristics does it take to be a credible leader?

Individuals who are seen as credible leaders tend to be perceived as both (1) trustworthy and (2) possessing good intentions. To be perceived as trustworthy, a leader must have a track record of being honest and forthright with their words and actions. If a leader is seen as incompetent or dishonest, they will not be effective at building trust with followers. Similarly, it is important for leaders to have the best interests of others in mind when seeking to achieve goals. If a leader is only motivated by their own personal gain, followers will not trust them to act in the best interest of others.

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7 Powerful Habits for Establishing Credibility as a Leader:

1. Employ Your Moral Compass:

Your moral compass is your personal and professional integrity, which becomes evident to those around you through your actions. A solid foundation of self-respect and respect for others yields a well-defined Moral Compass from which all decision-making flows. This allows for rational decisions based on business needs as well as ethical decision based on your personal integrity.

2. Don’t seek personal gain at the expense of others:

Falsely implicating another person in wrongdoing, knowingly opposing someone else’s success for your own gain, or taking credit for other people’s work will all erode credibility and trust quickly. Strive to maintain an unwavering commitment to doing what is right, including following the rules and acting with integrity no matter what.

3. Don’t hold back feedback:

Leaders who exhibit strong leadership character are open to hearing feedback both good and not-so-good from their employees. Holding back constructive criticism may be detrimental to your credibility as a leader because of a fear that if spoken, your feedback could be misconstrued. It’s important to remember that the only way to get better is through constructive feedback and open dialogue, so ask for it often or consider pairing up with a trusted leader or mentor for guidance.

4. Be someone your people want to follow:

People do business with people they like and trust, so if you are striving to be a leader in your organization, make sure you are someone people enjoy spending time with. A good leader will motivate their team members when times get tough, share success equally when things go right and know when it is appropriate to have fun with their team.

5. Embrace the gray areas:

Effective leaders understand that there is a distinction between right and wrong and strive to always do what is right. No matter how you define “right,” there will invariably be gray areas that require you to rely on your intuition and honest assessment of the situation. Leaders who try to remain black or white, risk misreading their followers’ expectations and mistaking important subtleties.

6. Don’t be afraid to admit you are wrong:

Everyone makes mistakes, but not every leader is willing to say “I was wrong” or fully acknowledge failings in their educational, professional and personal lives. A leader who cannot accept responsibility for their actions is not able to effectively lead an organization toward success, especially during times of challenge.

7. Be a fountain, not a drain:

Great leaders value the power of their words and make every effort to ensure they are positive and encouraging when speaking with team members or clients. Constructive criticism is important in improving performance, but focusing on someone’s weaknesses will have a much more lasting negative effect than accentuating their strengths for future success. Also, when you are given positive feedback by a team member or client, share the credit with your team. By sharing the credit you become a true leader who gains power through his ability to empower others.

Why People Believe in Their Leaders — or Not:

Global survey finds that emotional intelligence, honesty and a positive attitude are key factors in inspiring followers.

Leadership is about to get a lot more interesting, according to findings from a global study of more than 8,000 people at work by the Mars Group and their partners.

“The impactful leaders have three things in common,” says Paul Rogers, global leader for the Mars group and a co-author of “Inspiring Others: The Art of Creating Leaders.”

They all produced higher than average results for their organizations. They were open to feedback and committed to improving personally and professionally. And they had high emotional intelligence — or as Rogers put it, the ability to manage emotions in themselves and others.

1. Shared results:

They don’t just “talk the talk,” they really walk the walk by achieving outstanding results in everything they do and inspire their teams to achieve at a higher level than they thought possible. It’s that simple, and it is one of the most important qualities potential leaders must master if they want to get better at what they do.

2. Openness to feedback:

These leaders care enough about their job and the people who work with them to pay attention not just to what people think about them, but also how they come across to others. They have a solid understanding of what makes them effective and not so effective in terms of showing up as a leader and work to improve themselves.

3. Emotional intelligence:

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE is a combination of self-awareness, social awareness and the ability to manage emotions in ourselves and others. It’s an innate quality that people must master as they become better leaders . Think of it as emotional fitness — just like you need to exercise your body to stay fit, you must use and develop this muscle — or cognitive ability — to succeed.

Here’s how it works: Leaders with high EI can accurately identify their own emotions and use that information to guide their behavior and relationships across all levels of the organization. They can read emotions in others and adapt their approach accordingly. And they can manage the emotions of others and influence their behavior without causing offense or damaging relationships.

“Great leaders make a positive emotional connection with their teams and constantly work to identify how they can inspire and motivate those around them,” says Rogers, who is based in London. “The challenging times provide the best opportunities for leaders to really shine.”

4. Optimism:

When the going gets tough, people naturally look for a leader who can present a positive message and maintain that sense of optimism when everyone else is ready to give up. They want someone who will stick with them through thick and thin. Hanging in there when things get heated will pay off in spades when you eventually work through the issue.

5. Genuineness:

Be yourself and be consistent in who you are as a person, leader and communicator. People have to believe that what they see is what they get from you. Feel free to show emotions but always stay true to your values and beliefs — don’t let a bad day at home spill over into work.

6. Flexibility:

Great leaders are adaptable and can alter their style to accommodate different situations, people and environments. It’s hard for anyone to be everything to everyone so being able to adjust is essential if you want to have the greatest impact with the most people possible.

7. Visionary:

People naturally look to great leaders when they need guidance or direction. They are the “thought leaders” of their organizations because of their ability to set a course for others to follow, have an outside-the-box approach and always see opportunities that no one else sees. And they create action plans with their teams that help everyone understand what they are working toward.

8. Honesty:

Leaders with high EI understand that honesty and transparency can be a tremendous source of influence and inspiration for their teams. People believe them when they say something, which inspires trust and commitment to the vision. And they admit it when they make mistakes — this ability to own up to shortcomings builds huge amounts of loyalty and respect.

9. Authenticity:

“Authentic leaders view the world through a filter of humility and humanity,” says Rogers, who wrote “How to Connect in Business in 90 Seconds or Less.” “They never forget that people are more important than process and performance . They value diversity, inclusion and harmony because they understand it makes them better at their jobs.”

10. Accountability:

There’s no question that people look to great leaders when things go wrong. They want someone who will step up, own the mistake and find a solution for moving forward. Blaming others or making excuses only delays the inevitable — people need direction and they won’t follow you if you’re not willing to do the heavy lifting with them.

11. Self-Awareness:

“Self-awareness is one of the most powerful intrapersonal skills you can possess,” says Rogers, who co-founded Vantage Partners, an executive coaching and consulting firm based in London. “When you’re self-aware, you don’t make excuses for your behavior or try to rationalize anything. You ask for help, you apologize when it’s required and you always keep your eyes on the reasons people follow you.”

12. Trustworthiness:

“People won’t follow a leader who is not trustworthy,” says Rogers. “They have to believe that what they see is really what they get. Once they see two or three instances where you have lived up to your word, they will give you the benefit of the doubt on everything else.”

How Leaders Erode Credibility:

1. Overpromising and Underdelivering:

This is one of the biggest killers of credibility because in layman’s terms it means to “put your foot in your mouth.” People can sniff out when you are giving them half-truths or false promises, which completely destroys their ability to trust anything that comes out of your mouth.

2. Mind Reading:

No one likes to be told what they are thinking or feeling, but many leaders do it without realizing that the impact is much stronger because it comes across as presumptuous and arrogant. Be careful not to jump to conclusions about other people’s motivation or emotions — you could end up with disastrous results.

3. Refusing to Admit Mistakes:

Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect, but it’s how you deal with those mistakes that impacts your credibility. If you either deny them or ignore them completely, people won’t be able to trust anything you have to say the next time. They go from having a leader they can respect to one they find insincere and manipulative.

4. Being Inconsistent:

Leadership is all about setting the standard for how people should behave within an organization, which is why inconsistency can be such a killer. If you allow some people to bend or break the rules, then your audience may question why they should adhere to them at all.

5. Lack of Passion:

Your willingness to go above and beyond for your team shows that you care about them, which makes them want to reciprocate by caring about their work and producing results. Passion can also help drive others through difficult times when the going gets tough — a great leader is always there encouraging people to push forward.

6. Playing Favorites:

In an effort to develop a close bond with certain people, it’s very easy for leaders to play favorites and show special treatment, which undermines the idea of fairness within an organization. If you treat some employees as though they are better than others, your power as a leader diminishes pretty quickly.

7. Excessive Self-Promotion:

While it’s important to self-promote yourself and the work that you do, doing it excessively comes across as bragging and is a real turnoff for people. It can also create problems within an organization because everyone will be working toward making you look good rather than focusing on their own goals.

8. Being Overly Critical:

Leaders are naturally going to have a lot of feedback for the people they work with, but it’s important that you criticize constructively and without being overly harsh or demoralizing. People will only follow you as long as they believe that working for you is a good thing, not something to be dreaded or feared.

9. Being Unapproachable:

Your team needs to be able to come to you for help, feedback and guidance, so your being unapproachable shuts down communication completely. If you are never available to lend advice or share your experiences, people will stop coming to you altogether because they don’t feel as though they can benefit from your wisdom.

10. Not Rewarding or Praising Enough:

All work and no reward makes for a very dull organization, so leaders need to make sure they are rewarding their people as frequently as possible to show them how much they appreciate their efforts. Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated, especially those who work on your team.

As you can see, many of these behaviors are so common that they become second nature to leaders because they don’t even realize how it negatively impacts their credibility. While some people will always question the effectiveness of leadership skills training, I truly believe that this is one area where taking a course makes a huge difference in terms of transforming your abilities and making you the true leader you are meant to be.