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Enhance your credibility as a leader

Credibility is about trustworthiness. And when it comes to leaders it is a decisive quality that differentiates a leader with followers and the one with subordinates. It is that important factor on which leader-follower relationship is built. Leadership credibility is about being true to oneself – having a coherence between ideas, promises, actions and follow through.

People listen to leaders when they talk, when they make promises and claims. Leaders are watched closely as they act. Their decisions are evaluated against the themes communicated by them and any mismatch here leads to confusion in the minds of people. Confusion grows into doubt over leader’s true intentions, capability to execute his plans and finally resulting in loss of credibility in the minds of his own people.

Key to building credibility

As has been mentioned credibility of leaders has roots in “walking the talk”, which sends a strong message about leader’s sincerity towards his commitments. This reputation of “walking the talk” is the only way of building credibility among the followers. To be able to consistently “walk the talk”, a leader must have a strong belief in what he says, so that he can take a strong stand on the issue and back his promise with strong organizational performance.

Framework for building credibility

A simple framework and yet very testing when it comes to putting it in practice is shown here. I call it “testing” because it is a real test of leadership character to make “walking the talk” your personal signature theme.

Step-1: Develop a strategic point of view

Developing clarity of thought, so that you believe your talk more than any body else does. And this is important, because unless you believe in what you say, you cannot set forth on your challenging voyage of implementation.

To develop clarity of thought on any aspect of organizational life, as a leader you must consolidate your learning from day-to-day experiences and observations and draw meaningful insights.

Once insights into business problems are gained, the next agenda for developing a strategic point of view on the insights is to test the strength of your ideas through open deliberation with your management team. The process will help you understand the relevance and impact of your insights on the business. In other words, you would have gained confidence around the insights that you have meticulously drawn and refined.

The next task is to craft a message that conveys importance and urgency of your idea. Design a conceptual framework to apply the insights to solve problems that plague the business today and those that would have any adverse impact tomorrow. This will help in putting your message across effectively in the organization.

Step-2: Communicate in a way that makes sense to the people

Effective communication starts with the passion with which you communicate – right mixture of passion and analytical flavour will increase the stickiness of your message. Give people the details of challenges as you perceive them today and explain how you are going to tackle them.

Clarify your expectations in terms of performance and behaviour that are expected from people and finally show them the glimpse of how successful endeavour would transform organization and quality of life in the organization.

Step-3: Maintain emphasis on execution

This is a critical phase that can make or break your ongoing campaign. You will be closely watched on how you deal with political barriers to the execution. Any semblance of weakness here will not only affect your progress but also will affect the motivation levels of the employees whose buy-in, you ensured through well designed communication exercise. This is a crucial test of your seriousness and a deciding factor in building your credibility.

Once organizational politics are taken care of, it is about managing resources and personally reviewing the critical aspects of the progress, so that people are aware that their leader is as concerned and committed as they are to the task at hand.

Step-4: Use every opportunity to strengthen bond with people during implementation

Unrelenting rigour on implementation is no doubt important, but equally important is to keep the communication in tact at every step of implementation to enhance believability and trust. Outcome may not influence people perception about your credibility as much as the means you have adopted since communicating your intentions.

Achievement or failure in achieving a milestone is an opportunity for leader to strengthen the rapport with his people through encouragement and correcting systemic failures through people involvement. This will have the most positive impact on improving your credibility. Trust based on the confidence in your concern for implementation will certainly boost your reputation and credibility.

Success and failure do matter but not as much as your concern, visibility and commitment. However, success can have a magical effect on your relationship with your followers – an experience of a lifetime for everyone involved. What ever be the result of the adventure, as a leader you will have a treasure of experience that you can apply for developing newer business insights and change initiatives.

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Leadership - inspiring action

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