How to Build Credibility as a Leader: Three C’s

The right to lead is no longer about power.

Every leader can build trust by establishing credibility.

Image courtesy of JoshBerglund19 under the Creative Commons license.

We live in the era of networking. The capabilities and resources of any organization can now be distributed anywhere in the world. People no longer need to find powerful leaders and ally themselves to that person in order to ensure success.

Power is Old School

No, alliances are no longer about power. They are about influence. And that influence is granted to those who are trustworthy, making trust the new linchpin of all leadership qualities. Are you trustworthy?

People willingly follow leaders that they trust. If a leader cannot gain that trust, it is because he or she is unable to establish credibility. Trust is built on credibility, and credibility is established on three C’s:

1. Congruence

Aside from being one of my favourite words, congruence is significant because it is all about walking the talk. Congruence means that integrity is an unshakeable reality connecting your values with your actions.

The closer they are to you as a leader, the more opportunity there is for those who follow you to observe how true you are to your values. People are watching you. Are your behaviours, decisions and way of expressing yourself congruent with your professed values?

2. Care

Credibility is easily built on the back of care. Disregard for your people will ruin that credibility even more easily.

We all have the ability to know (despite differences in personality) when a leader actually cares for us. This is something every leader should be intentional about. Declare it. Make it plain so those who follow you do not have to guess about your care for them. And then show it.

3. Capability

Every person has a skill set. But those following you want to know that your skill set (your capability) is relevant to the space into which you are leading them. While boasting of past successes is only boasting, people will always project future performance based on the track record of results for which you are known. This is why it is important to go for early wins, even if small, in a new leadership role. Your people will give credibility to a leader they know is capable.

“I’m the Boss!” Doesn’t Work Anymore

These are the three C’s of credibility, the foundation of trust. If you have ever heard someone say (or even heard yourself say), “I’m the boss and that is how it is going to be!” you know that this simply does not cut the mustard any more. That is merely a fall back to power-based authority. At best it will achieve compliance but it will never build commitment or trust.

My challenge to you today is to go out there and inspire trust. Your position in leadership is a privilege, not a right. Your people want to be influenced by you. They want to see and know you as a credible, trustworthy leader.

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