Leaders and managers need to be influential. They need to influence behaviour, decisions and outcomes. One of the key elements to being influential is your level of credibility. Without credibility you won’t even get past the starting block. Credibility ensures people will listen and take your contribution seriously. No amount of money can buy you credibility, it comes through your actions. If you want to increase your credibility, avoid these 7 classic mistakes:
- Be a slave to your emotions
Emotionally intelligent leaders are always focused on the most constructive outcome even though it may not be ideal personally for them, they keep their emotions in check to allow them to think clearly and make good decisions. This contributes significantly to making them influential. Those with low EI and little credibility lose their temper when things don’t go their way, show signs of stress and frustration and therefore don’t make good decisions as their thinking is clouded by negative emotion.
- Lack integrity
As a leader or manager, being part of office gossip will severely weaken your credibility. Credibility comes from honesty and integrity, people need to know they can trust you so you must avoid the temptation to speak poorly of others or break confidences. As a general rule, if you act as if the person being discussed were right in front of you and focus on the positive, you’ll be in a strong position.
- Be a show pony
Bragging may not only damage your reputation, but it can demotivate your whole team as well. Leadership is all about engaging others, you’ll gain greater credibility by asking others to share their strengths, praising their efforts and listening to them.
- Break your promises/commitments
This point also relates to honesty and integrity, if you say you will do something, do it. If circumstances change, let the other party know. I once worked with a guy who was brilliant at keeping commitments and his reputation for this was legendary as was his level of credibility. His career plan accelerated much faster than some of his colleagues who weren’t so committed.
- Focus on problems
Credible leaders have good problem-solving skills, they don’t get bogged down in the problem but instead focus on the way forward, the fix, the solution. Those who lack credibility are put off at the first hurdle, they say negative things like “that’s never going to work” instead of “let’s see what we can do to make it work”. Act proactively to earn respect as a leader.
- Move the goalposts
Without clear goals and expectations, your team members and colleagues are just flapping in the wind. If they are unsure of the end result or the end result is changed multiple times, they will become frustrated and demotivated. Credible leaders have a plan, and are clear about standards, time frames and boundaries.
- Manage conflict poorly
Leaders that don’t know how to say ‘no’ or work through conflict effectively will suffer in the credibility stakes. Strong leaders ask the right questions, use assertive communication and collaborate with the other party to find an acceptable solution.
- Talk the talk but don’t walk the walk
This mistake relates to two things that detract from credibility; one is spend too much time talking and not enough time listening. The second is purporting to behave in one way for example saying ”my door is always open” but then behaving in the opposite way ie. when you need them, you find the door is very firmly shut. None of this behaviour builds credibility.
Read more tips on credibility in this article
For more information on influencing others contact Jill@jemtraining.com.au or look at our communication skills program