We all think we are highly credible, but we need to validate that perception. Living in an illusion is not smart. I was working with a CEO who was asked at a staff meeting on Friday if a layoff was planned. He empathetically said no, but the following Wednesday the firm did conduct a layoff. He chose the desire to be popular over the need to be credible. Credibility stems from trustworthiness, believability and a commitment to high integrity.
To test your credibility, rank yourself on the following using a five point scale with five being always, 3 being frequently and 1 being rarely:
- You consistently get advanced warning from others on emerging problems.
- You avoid sugar-coating information to making it appear more positive than it really is.
- You respond fully and honestly to questions including saying “I do not know, but I will get the answer for you when appropriate.”
- You promptly own your mistakes and display integrity in all your communications
- You “walk your talk” and follow through on all of your commitments and plans.
- You retain your composure in tough and emotional situations.
- You share credit and praise with others for success.
If your total is less than 26 points, you have an opportunity to improve. Consider the following actions to enhance your credibility:
- Increase face-to-face time and actively listen to others.
- Build lateral networks to gain a wider perspective
- Establish multiple and timely communication channels including: public boards, standard updates after staff meetings, and skip-level meetings
- Invite informal exchanges
- Deploy the “say it, do it and announce it” model frequently to demonstrate follow-up
- Reduce the usage of jargon or slogans
- Demonstrate a consistent practice of rewarding honesty, information sharing and initiative
It takes time to establish credibility, but it can destroyed in an instance. While not easy to establish, once in place credibility results in trusted information that reduces time spent on rumors, aligns organizational efforts and encourages engaged and committed members. Leaders who project credibility are rewarded with outstanding results and retention of key talent.