Do You Have Credibility as Leader?

Many leaders attribute lack of support to office politics, difficult colleagues and poor business conditions.  While it may be true that there are organizational challenges, it’s helpful to consider how your leadership credibility fits into the picture.  Are you unknowingly sabotaging your own leadership credibility?

It is critical for leaders to step back and assess their level of credibility.  By doing so, you can strengthen your capacity to influence others and achieve your goals.

Often, leaders unconsciously and unknowingly sabotage their own credibility in their work.  In a recent conversation with a client – a leader in a global technology company – we were discussing his credibility.  He said, “I’ve earned it from my people. They see me as credible. After all, I helped us through our recent re-structure.  That feels like it’s enough to make me credible.”

The truth was, it wasn’t enough.  People in the company are in fact struggling with the change and have not returned to their previous level of productivity and begun achieving new results.  I challenged my client to consider what else his team, colleagues and management needs from him now so they can continue seeing him as credible in his new leadership role.

As I went deeper into the coaching conversation with John*, we identified a few ways he was actually sabotaging his leadership credibility.  We discussed:

1.        Assuming a Level of Credibility That Doesn’t Exist

John assumed that he had earned an adequate level of credibility and no further action was required.  This limited view kept him from seeing that further actions were needed with his team and colleagues. By assuming credibility, he overlooked the important actions required to actually build it.

2.        Lose Focus on Your Team’s Results and Forward Action

In the midst of change, John lost focus on helping his team create results and move forward with their projects.  The change initiative overtook the other projects people were working on (a common occurrence) and they became de-motivated and disengaged.  John had little time to coach his team, so they started to see him as someone who didn’t really care about them and was too busy “with management stuff.”  While this is absolutely not what John thought, his lack of focus on their results weakened his credibility with them.

3.       Failing to Understand Key Stakeholders Concerns

When John was busy with the restructure, he had little time to meet with his key stakeholders; he was primarily focused on getting his own team through the change.  Unfortunately, he lost opportunities to understand their goals, challenges and key learnings that would have proved beneficial as he rolled out the new structure. One of the executives told him, “You just don’t have time for me these days.  I understand how busy you are, but we need to get together soon.”

As you can see, John was working hard to make the restructure successful for his team and the organization.  However, unconsciously he was actually sabotaging his own leadership credibility by assuming his own credibility, losing focus on his team and failing to understand his key stakeholders.

Are you unknowingly sabotaging your own leadership credibility?  

*Name changed to maintain confidentiality.


Weekly Uplevel Practice

While building credibility is a lifelong endeavor for all leaders, there are a few initial actions you can take this week to assess your credibility:

  1. Create your own working definition of credibility.  How does this fit in the context of your role, organization and leadership?
  2. Identify your “credibility indicators” that will signal to you whether or not you have credibility with a person or situation (i.e. people share openly with me, I can effectively influence decisions, etc.).
  3. Ask a colleague or senior leader you trust to give you honest feedback about your credibility.  Be open to their feedback to then identify specific actions you can take to build your credibility.

If y ou'd like to accelerate your credibility, influence and impact, join us in July for our Enhance Your Credibility and Impact Online Program starting on July 10, 2018.