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Credibility – Your Most Important Asset

“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do.
Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”
— Maria Razumich-Zec, General Manager at Peninsula Chicago

Although supervisors and managers, or actually anyone, need a wide array of people skills and certain technical abilities, nothing is more critical to success than credibility.

When supervisors lose their credibility, they lose both their employees’ trust and their effectiveness as leaders. Morale plummets and productivity stalls.

Credibility is a critical quality because it allows people to place their trust in you. And one of the most challenging aspects of credibility is that you really can’t force people to trust you – you have to earn their trust in ways that are meaningful to them (not you).

Fortunately, there is a recipe for credibility. Credibility is not a mysterious abstract quality that defies analysis. It is a combination of your character and your performance level. You can’t have one without the other. You cannot be a person of sound integrity but a low performer and expect to have influence with others. Likewise, if you are getting results but achieving them in inconsistent and underhanded ways, you are never going to build trust.

There are a number of very specific things you can do to build and maintain your credibility.

Ways to Build Credibility

  1. Understand and Meet the Standards of Others. Others often have unspoken standards they are measuring your performance against.
  2. Narrow Your Say – Do Gap. We undermine our influence by not following through on the commitments we make.
  3. Communicate Your Intent and Expectations to Others. By giving others a clear picture of what success looks like, you are helping them contribute to the credibility of their team.
  4. Hold Others Accountable When They Fail to Meet Expectations. Have the courage to deliver performance-related feedback to others. When delivered effectively, feedback can be the most valuable thing you do for your colleagues.
  5. Be fair and consistent when you praise, evaluate or discipline. If your workers see you applying different standards to different people, jealousy and resentment will fester.
  6. Follow your own rules. Act the way you would expect your employees to act if they faced the same situation. The first time you break one of your own rules without a very good reason that makes sense to your people, you will endanger your credibility.
  7. Be open and honest. If you must withhold information from employees, say so. Never lie about what you know. If you do, the person who catches you will tell everyone else. And the next time it’s convenient for them, they won’t believe anything you say.
  8. Keep the promises you make. When you want to help someone out, it’s tempting—and easy—to say “yes” or “I’ll take care of it for you.” But if things don’t work out—even for reasons beyond your control—you’ll lose that person’s trust. And that person will talk to others. Think carefully before promising. Very often the vicissitudes of the workplace will force you to pull back on your end of the bargain. And although it may not loom big in your thoughts, employees have a keen memory for this sort of thing.
  9. Work as hard as your people. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid delegating or that you must “suffer” to prove a point. But it does mean that you should devote as much energy and effort to being a good supervisor as you want your people to devote to their jobs. When it comes to credibility, what you do carries a lot more weight with employees than what you say. A boss with his or her sleeves rolled up scores a lot of points with employees.

Charging Ahead

Your credibility is your on-ramp to greater influence with others, and it is too important to be left to chance. Start purposefully developing it and you’re in a better position to be the go-to-person sought out by others.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
… Frank Outlaw, Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores