Over the past few years, much has been written about the subject of “leadership” and numerous workshops have been conducted on the subject. What is missed by many who aspire to be leaders is what I believe to be the single most important ingredient in becoming a leader. That ingredient is “credibility.”
If credibility is the key ingredient to becoming a successful leader, it might be wise to examine exactly what credibility is as well as how one gains and maintains credibility.
What is Credibility?
The word “credibility” and the word “credit” come from the same root word.
My wife and I are remodeling our home. In order to pay for the remodeling we had to secure a loan. The fact that we were able to get the loan means that we have “credit-ability.” The person who approved our loan had to believe two things: (1) that my wife and I are capable of repaying the loan and (2) that we will, in fact, repay it. That illustration in in-line with the way Webster’s Dictionary defines credibility which is “the ability to inspire belief.”
The Dimensions of Credibility
Credibility has two dimensions. The first dimension is trustworthiness and honesty and the second dimension is competence.
Dimension 1: Trustworthiness and Honesty
To be viewed as trustworthy, leaders must be consistent in their words and behaviors. Credibility has its roots in “walking their talk.” To be credible in action, leaders must be clear in their beliefs and they must know what they stand for. They must put their beliefs into action and their actions must be consistent with those beliefs. The leader must have a strong belief in what he/she says so that he/she can take a strong stand on the issue and back his/her promises with strong organizational performance.
To be viewed as honest, leaders are honest to the degree that it is reasonably possible to do so. Because of the confidential nature of some information, leaders may not be able to share everything with their followers, but they share the truth even if it may not be the whole truth. When they are asked a question regarding confidential information, they respond honestly that they cannot discuss the issue
Dimension 2: Competency
The demonstration of competency involves four actions: