Throughout your entire life credibility will be one of the words that will stick to everything you do and how you do it.  Whether you are the nicest person out there or a devil in disguise, the way people perceive you and what they associate you with stems from everything revolving around your credibility. I was thinking about this the past few days whilst working on one of our recent projects for the KLG. You need to be influential as a leader, however you need to maintain and continuously build upon your credibility for people to trust you in order to be influenced. This is valid in the office world just as it is for a web developer. And as in any industry or organization, especially high performance work cultures, you need to be seen as someone with integrity and credibility otherwise people will begin filtering you out.

That being said, Ive brainstormed two side to the coin. I know I may not be covering it all, but I just want to spur some thought for both sides of the story. The first side being (1) how you build credibility and the other side (2) how you can quickly kill it.

Lets start with the first – building. With that I want to look at six C’s:

1. Character

I was recently going through one of my social media feeds and I saw a great quote, which I then looked up and was actually valid. The quote was from Samuel L. Jackson who said “My character is who I am, what makes me, however my attitude depends on who you are.” Love it. Your character makes up who you are and if ethical behavior and integrity are part of your character than you’ll already being building rapport with people because they will trust you. If you are honest and accountable for any choices, actions and calls you make, regardless of the situation and people understand this, even when the judgement could have been better, it shows you are willing to take the hit. Your character portrays honesty. It will inspire people across the board to do the same. Regardless of company, job or role.

2. Caring

Your job as a leader is to care. If you no longer care you should no longer be a leader. Let me give you a personal example. I moved up the corporate ladder very quickly, managing numerous teams of various sizes, however the issue I personally struggled with is starting from the same square each time around. “Hermann, fix this,” or “We need you to drive this business and turn things around/make it better.” The problem with it was that it was almost always rotating around the same operational procedures. This meant getting to know new people, understanding where they all came from, what they do, where they want to go, how the team functions as a whole, and so forth. After multiple changes like this, it became a tedious task for me rather than a new challenge. Yes, I always fulfilled what needed to be done, but I personally realized I was no longer in the game, mentally. Don’t get me wrong here. I love the people I worked with, each and every time. I cared. I took time to understand the problems, but the whole aspect of the entire challenge from a holistic standpoint was no longer of interest to me. I wanted something new. And when this form of caring stops, you need to make changes quick. Which at the time I did. However the point here is, I see too many people in their roles who no longer care. They are just there for the job title, the money, the “authority” they may have, but in reality are a vacuum of emptiness. If that’s you, then think about your life and what you really want. Make that happen. Because once your genuine interest in others begins fading than you credibility will take a hit.

3. Commitment

Stick to it. If you say you will deliver on something, you need to make your absolute best effort to do so. Circumstances may change, but you will need to keep things transparent as much as possible for people to understand that what eventually was committed can no longer be the case as the situation has shifted. People will understand if this is communicated clearly (one of the next C’s) and hence your credibility, your trustworthiness will not take a hit. Believe me. Have a clear vision of what your goals are. How they fit into the bigger picture and what you would like to achieve, whether personally or for your team or company. It really does not matter what your job title is. What matters is that you stick to it and commit to the path you want to walk.

4. Communication

The Alpha and Omega to all. This is one skill you need to hone over the entire span of your lifetime. In order to build rapport with others, you need to make it a priority to not only talk, talk, talk because your a know-it-all, you need to be able to listen and soak in what others have to say, even if you don’t like it or it’s taking too long or what not. Communication is not about you telling everyone where and what and how and who, its about understanding the entire picture of the group, of the team, the organization and putting each one of those individual pieces together. That’s building credibility. You can then proactively communicate how you want, because now you understand what “they” need. Like any area of life, whether with your spouse, your children, your family, your friends, or people you randomly meet on the street. The way you communicate will create what people perceive of you. Its one of the puzzle pieces.

5. Consistency

This is huge. It’s big! You need to be consistent in the way you go about with everything. Whether its the type of commitments you make or the way you show empathy. Perhaps your character or the way you listen to people. The way you do your job, the way you execute on tasks, everything in life needs consistency and when people continuously see this behavior from you, you will begin building credibility with them. This C has been one of my biggest learning’s and still is to certain extents. I love doing lots of things, all the time. I get pulled in everywhere and at times certain areas fall short because I can no longer commit to them due to situational changes, which other parties may not understand, however the inconsistency brings about a loss of credibility. Nonetheless the key thing to take away here is to be consistent in your dealing with others. Seek win-win solutions.

6. Confidence building

Last, but not least build confidence. Not only in yourself and your actions and thought but in others. The more you can inspire others to achieve greatness the more you make others feel appreciated and valued. There is nothing wrong with a proper rebuke, however done wrongly can have serious effects. Engage people, guide them, make them aspire for the bigger. These emotions alone will grab you brownie points when it comes to credibility. Whether a leader, manager, sole entrepreneur dealing with clients, instill appreciation in all those you deal with and watch “them” appreciate you more.

 

That being said here are a few things I’ve noted that you definitely need to stay away from when it comes to your credibility:

1. Gossip

This is a big one. We all engage in it to some form or extent however avoid it as much as possible. Stick to facts and the truth. It’s like that saying your Mom probably told you when you were younger (at least my parents did) – “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, don’t say it all.” Now I could dissect that in various forms however you get the gist of the meaning. Gossip is no where near professional and serves absolutely no purpose. To me it only shows that you are immature and not able to deal with certain situations. Have an issue? Confront it! Don’t like the communication from someone? Go deal with it! Don’t like the decision that was recently made? Go discuss it! And it goes on and on and on. Especially for people in leading roles, this point holds very true. Remember what goes around, comes around and if you want to be taken serious. If you want to move forward, than people need to know your have integrity and can be trusted.

2. Too aggressive or completely passive

You need to find your median. I have met people in the business world on both sides of the spectrum, regardless of the roles or title they may hold, they lack credibility with me and many others. Being overly aggressive exhibits a lack of confidence at times and is basically overcompensation for not really having a grip on the situation. In regards to your credibility this means that it amkes you look as if you can’t keep your cool under pressure and you don’t respect the feedback and inputs from others (remember the C’s above?). Aggression is a command and control style that does not work in most environments. No one likes being around these people. We all flip out at times, but that 1% rate should be a rare exception to the norm. If not, you should be put in solitary confinement until you find your zen.

On the other side of the spectrum you have someone who is completely passive. These are folks that don’t really take charge. This could be because they want to avoid uncomfortable situations or discussions. They don’t have the proper understanding and/or they just don’t care. All these simple things will hit your credibility faster than a formula one race car.

3. Profanity

I find that at times profanity is a way we all relieve stress or emphasize something very specific. You’ll see me use it from time to time in blog posts¬†however in many environments, especially the business world it’s unacceptable. Especially in regards to your credibility. People automatically perceive you as less educated, bad tempered, not trustworthy and these are traits that you do not want to be associated with. Keep yourself in check. My advice – grab a dictionary and begin learning some new vocabulary!

4. Association with others

“Who you hang out with is who you become,” is a phrase that is often thrown around. However it holds true to a certain extent. Whomever you associate with, your tribe, your group of friends, etc – the values and ethics in regards to their behavior will also color off on you and affect you. If you are a great person but are associated with someone who committed back fraud, people will begin perceiving you as someone with the same potential, perhaps someone even carrying out the same scandal. That’s just human nature. How we are wired. Make sure you are associated with people whom you truly want to be like. Folks with the type of credibility you want others to see in you.

5. Tattered professional image

When it comes to credibility, I personally find it very important to respect the culture of the game. You may be like “what in the world do you mean Hermann?” Quite simple. Lets take the example of the business world. If at work you are suit and tie down the halls, all serious and good go, but in one-to-ones, your rude and after hours your out partying with folks from the office and getting drunk and being all touchy, that is not okay. Its fine to do that with friends and those friends may be coworkers as well, however not all coworkers are your friends. If you want credibility in all parts of life you need to maintain a certain posture in certain situations. You may think whatever, that’s completely not relevant. However it is. If you want to maintain a credible image, you need to respect the culture of those who you are operating with. Maintaining a professional image on and off the field is a fantastic way to build credibility and rapport in all areas of life.

 

With that keep in mind that credibility is a part of the game, not everything it I find that when you tie up several of the points of regardless of which side of the spectrum, than you better put yourself in the right spot. Thoughts?

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