The Leadership Caffeine™ series is over 200 installments strong and is dedicated to every aspiring or experienced leader and manager seeking ideas, insights or just a jolt of energy to keep pushing forward. Thanks for being along for the journey!
And no, I’m not talking about hairstyles. The phrase, your do must match your tell was offered up by an interview subject in response to a question focusing on developing credibility as a leader. It’s memorable, it’s quotable and it is spot on accurate.
No creature on the planet destroys credibility faster than a pontificating blow-hard of a boss who is great at turning oxygen into over-heated carbon dioxide, but not so great at overcoming the gravitational pull of his posterior to the chair and putting his own words into action.
Looking for some blunt advice? Here you go: Don’t be that person! If that’s not enough, here are 7 ideas you can put into action today to begin strengthening your credibility as a leader.
7 Tips to Help You Build Credibility as a Leader:
1. Model the Behaviors You Are Preaching: if it’s hard work and commitment to excellence, then you best cultivate an unimpeachable reputation for working hard and pursuing excellence. If it’s focus on the customer, then you need to be logging some significant quality time in front of your customers. Don’t demand it if you’re not living it.
2. There’s Only One Set of Rules: accountability for effort and outcomes must be applied evenly, without exception. It’s the exceptions you make (and that everyone sees) that kill your credibility.
3. The Big Issues Cannot Wait: there’s no getting away with, “that’s an important issue and we should talk about it at the right time.” It’s always the right time to tackle the tough ones.
4. Don’t Pollute the Environment with Dissonance: if you encourage people to make decisions, then let them make and learn from their decisions. The boss who laments that no one makes a decision and then metaphorically clubs anyone over the head who makes a decision without consulting her is polluting the environment with dissonance.
5. Run, Don’t Walk to Admit Your Mistakes: there are few better teaching moments when you as the leader take responsibility for a poor outcome. Admit it…share your lessons learned and how you will attack this type of an issue in the future and move on. Our instinct is to feign invincibility and omniscience when the right thing to do is admit that we are human and imperfect. Awkward…yes. The right thing to do: absolutely.
6. The Blame is Yours and the Praise is For Your Team: never put yourself in the spotlight, unless you are defending your team. When it works…it’s all them. When it doesn’t, it’s all you. No exceptions.
7. If You Want Someone to Trust You, Trust Them First. Too many shallow managers require that their charges earn their trust. Flip it around and offer your trust first. While someone will eventually abuse it, the many who thrive because of your upfront offer outweigh this risk.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Credibility is the leader’s currency. Without it, you’re effectively bankrupt. Making certain that your do matches your tell is a great place to start accumulating this precious asset.
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An ideal book for anyone starting out in leadership: Practical Lessons in Leadership by Art Petty and Rich Petro.