Establishing Your Credibility

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To be an effective leader, you need to have credibility. But what is credibility? It’s the ability to inspire belief among employees or peers. They must believe in your ideas and decisions. And for this to happen, you must establish your trustworthiness and expertise.

A trustworthy leader will gain credibility as well as a reputation for integrity. Your integrity is judged on the basis of your actions. If these are consistently guided by ethical standards, your reputation for integrity will be secure.

To determine your level of integrity as a leader, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I do what I say I will?
  • Do I ensure others get credit when it’s due?
  • Do I listen properly to what others say?
  • Do others trust me?
  • Do I help others to learn and grow?
  • Do I avoid gossip?
  • Do I meet deadlines and commitments?

Once you’ve established that you are a leader with integrity, you must turn your attention outwards. Focus on motivating those around you and getting the best from them. To do this you must

  • optimize contributions from others – for example, a strong leader will set challenges that give others the chance to develop their skills.
  • deliver constructive criticism – you should be able to deliver constructive, sensitive criticism where appropriate. If the actions of employees are worrying you, address this. Explain how these actions can have a negative impact.

Acting with integrity at all times helps establish your credibility as a leader. To sustain this reputation, use three guidelines. First, follow your words with actions. Second, be honest with those you lead. Finally, be transparent in your communications.

Establishing credibility

The first guideline in terms of establishing your credibility as a leader is to follow words with actions. A leadership message is counterproductive if it makes promises that aren’t kept. Only say something in your leadership message if you can follow it with actions. Never overpromise.

Honesty is the best policy for leaders. And being honest – the second guideline for establishing a leader’s credibility – is very important. Dealing truthfully with colleagues will create a bond. It gives your audience faith in your leadership messages..

Recovering from mistakes

Leaders are all human, and make mistakes like anyone else. A great leader isn’t someone who never makes mistakes; it’s someone who learns from them. You may have worked to establish credibility but then lost it by some action. But you can regain it. What you need to do is

  • acknowledge your mistake – if your promises to employees don’t turn out as expected, explain why. Acknowledge what went wrong to begin repairing damaged credibility.
  • say sorry – to get past mistakes, leaders must apologize for them. Saying sorry for your actions will help you get past the incident in question.
  • make amends – you must make amends for mistakes. This repays the faith shown in you as a leader by employees and colleagues.

Sometimes, a leader may lose credibility because of the actions of others. However, a leader can’t simply pass responsibility for mistakes on to others. Being a leader means having the ultimate responsibility. Leaders who take this responsibility gain credibility. Leaders who are accountable will be trusted by those they lead.


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