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A challenge with this topic is to put credibility into something understandable or, better yet, something tangible. Also, how to properly capture the importance of credibility and the results that can be achieved when it’s developed?

The dictionary definition of credibility is the power to inspire belief. It’s an absolutely critical personal and professional trait. Why? Because credibility defines who you are as a person and in business. It defines who you are as an employee, supervisor, manager, and more importantly as a leader.

As a leader, credibility lets your employees see you as a dependable source of reliable information (whether on a day-to-day basis or on those occasions when it’s most critical) and for fair, effective decision-making. Individuals who have credibility develop and cultivate earned mutual trust and respect. Leaders who have credibility develop an organizational culture with enhanced morale, elevated staff performance, and effective relationships.

How do you Build Credibility as a Leader?

You can build credibility through:

  1. Competence – having an understanding of your chosen field.
  2. Honesty – providing truthful, verifiable information.
  3. Accountability – for your decisions and actions.
  4. Trust – allowing your employees and teams do their jobs.
  5. Confidence – delegating responsibility and trusting employees.
  6. Loyalty – not only by watching out for your team members’ best interests, but also by setting the example, and by consistently supporting them. Loyalty given results in loyalty returned.
  7. Strength of Character – working hard, achieving positive results, not allowing cynics.
  8. Congeniality – being friendly, but more importantly being likable.
  9. Sound Judgment – using comprehensive, thorough judgment based on credible information and facts.
  10. Listening to others – being available, hearing and processing what is being said.
  11. Communication – providing honest, open, truthful two-way communication at all levels in the organization.
  12. Setting the example – the organizational culture starts from the top down; don’t use the approach of "Do as I say…not as I do."
  13. Working in the best interests of others – individuals, both personal and professional, know if you are acting in their best interest or focused on what’s in it for me.
  14. Integrity – having strong moral principles such as honesty, good character, ethics, morality, decency, fairness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, etc.

If you have an interest in this topic, check out the book "Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It" by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. It looks at the six key disciplines that strengthen a leader’s capacity for developing and sustaining credibility. It also provides examples of real managers in action and includes research and updates.

Finally, ask yourself: If I used the list above and asked people that I know (both personally and professionally) for feedback, how would they rate me? And, importantly, what would I do with that information?

Thanks to the good folks at HPISolutions for sourcing this article.