Have you got the Credibility Factor?

Source: HBR; AirBestPractices/HDA


Credibility has all sorts of values wrapped up inside it: reliability, trustworthiness, authenticity, organisation and the ability to manage expectations and deliver on promises. A credibility gap usually appears when your actions are not aligned with your words. In short, you’ve let people down. 

The top two causes of loss of credibility are failing to do what you said you’d do and turning up late. 

Sometimes people don’t deliver on their promises because they can’t really be bothered, but most of the time our intentions are good right up until the point we run out of time. So credibility is established not only by delivering on your promises, but by promising what you’re sure you can deliver. If your boss asks you if you can get something done by Thursday, find out more about what is involved before you commit to it. It’s much better to say Monday is a more realistic estimate then deliver on Friday than agree to Thursday and deliver on Friday. 

Credibility is so often generated through good communication and transparency so if you know early on that you’re not going to meet a deadline – admit to it straightaway. If you’ve been asked to do several different things by several different people (all of whom you don’t want to let down) consider that by saying no to at least one of them at the beginning will save you letting them all down at the end. 

As a manager, you could come to a decision by consensus with your team and then change your mind when you uncover new information. As the leader you may have the right to do that, but by not communicating your thought process to the team they’ll feel undermined and undervalued and your credibility as a leader will be diminished. 

Consider also how you discuss other people’s failings as well as your own: any back stabbing or two-facedness will reflect badly on you and, interestingly, banging on about your own mistakes rather than just acknowledging them, learning from them and moving on will make you look unstable, unreliable and ultimately less credible. 

Credibility means keeping your promises, aligning your words and actions and, if you make a mistake or are late, acknowledging your responsibility, keeping excuses to a minimum and not making a habit of it.