Change and the Credibility Factor

This is a refreshed version of a post I wrote just over three years ago.  I’m giving it another airing because, at its core, leadership is about change and exploring new territory.  No leader can do that successfully without having earned the confidence of those s/he leads.  It’s as simple and as complicated as that.


I’ve been thinking about what it is that separates a person who seems to be able to influence change in a positive direction, from a person who might have the authority and the technical skill to do the work, but seems unable to pull it off.

The word credibility comes to mind.  The Thesaurus suggests that credibility is synonymous with trustworthiness, integrity and sincerity. I think that if these basic values are present, the chances of arousing the interest and respect of other people are pretty good. And, I believe too, that change agents come in many forms, manifest themselves in a variety of ways and at a variety of levels.

Thinking about that reinforces for me, the notion that it is credibility not title, position, role or authority that makes the difference between an effective leader and an ineffective one.

So, if you are with me so far, the big question seems to be ” How do I prove my credibility to others?”

Here’s what I think it takes to earn credibility:

I do what I say I’m going to do… and I do it, when I say I’m going to do it.

Reliability is an important ingredient in establishing credibility.

There’s nothing more infuriating or counter-productive, than when someone makes a commitment to do something and then fails to follow through.

I represent myself honestly and do my best to be candid and open with my colleagues and bosses.

I think that to gain credibility with others we must simply find the courage and confidence to be ourselves and make our contributions without pretense or bravado.

I show that I’m open to learning and trying new things

Nothing puts holes in our credibility as a leader more than conveying the impression that we have all the answers. And, it is arrogant to think that we can influence change in others without feeling the need to change something ourselves.

Change is a learning experience in itself. If we believe that it is for everyone but us, we are likely not asking the right questions, enough questions, or paying attention to what is going on around us.

I demonstrate respect for the experiences and knowledge of others.

One of the best ways to build credibility is to observe those who have gone before us and learn from their experiences.  If we want to be heard we must first listen.

When I challenge the status quo, I offer feasible and thoughtful alternatives.

To me, presenting a problem without considering a solution is not supporting change.  It is simply complaining.  This doesn’t mean that we have to have a solution for every problem.  But if we want to earn credibility, we have to consider not only the problem, but also the possibilities and questions that will stimulate further exploration.

I own up to being human and making mistakes. And, when I make mistakes, I apologize and then do my best to make amends.

Making excuses for the mistakes we make is simply unproductive and, well, not very attractive either. In general, we do not adversely affect our credibility when we make mistakes. We adversely affect our credibility when we try to cover them up, rationalize them away, or otherwise pretend they didn’t happen.

That’s what I think anyway. What do you think?



Filed under communication, Leadership, Leading Change, Organizational Effectiveness

17 responses to “Change and the Credibility Factor

  1. levs

    Mistake is a learning tool. Nobody is perfect only consistency.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Levs ~ Yes, mistakes are learning tools and in the context of being credible as a leader, they provide an opportunity for humility and sincerity, two more characteristics of leaders worth following. Thank you for coming by.

  2. Gwyn – I can only state a single point that refers to most, if not all of your blogs: again you have hit the mark! I always seek your blogs out of the many I have hit my inbox daily as they are real, current and seem so very relevant to my world at the time of reading.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Steve ~ Thank you very much for those kind words and for the encouragement and support they carry with them.

  3. Alex Jones

    “Charisma” is the belief people have in you, though that won’t always mean you can deliver or you are qualified for the role.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Alex ~ To me, ‘charisma’ draws people to the leader and credibility or, as you suggest, proving your capability and showing you can deliver, gives them something to make them want to stay. Thanks for that.

  4. Excellent assessment! I particularly like this point:
    “I demonstrate respect for the experiences and knowledge of others”
    Speaks to humility and collaboration, two qualities I find to be extremely important in leadership. The inherent understanding that we are all part of a greater whole, working toward a common goal and the humility to understand that as a single piece of the big puzzle it’s likely we don’t have all the answers ourselves and could benefit from the knowledge and experiences of others.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Tina ~ Couldn’t have said it better. In fact, I didn’t 🙂 Thank you for that and for adding your voice to the conversation.

  5. “To me, presenting a problem without considering a solution is not supporting change. It is simply complaining.” Great statement. Leaders are active solution seekers, not just problem identifiers. Being able to honestly say “I don’t have the answer” and asking for help in finding a solution helps to build credibility as well. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Laurie ~ I like the way you have expressed this. Bringing up an issue with an indication that while you have given it some thought you need help to find the answer is an honest and collaborative approach to problem solving. Collaborative skill is one of the hallmarks of 21st century leadership. Thank you for the reminder and for taking the time to comment.

  6. This is very relevant. However, l’m struggling with the question ” How do I prove my credibility to others?” Do real leaders need to prove their credibility? I guess am struggling with this because it seems mechanistic.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Ade ~ I see what you mean. However, I rather think that real leaders, while they don’t necessarily ask themselves that exact question, will focus on the need to earn trust and to be experienced as sincere and reliable in their activities. And yes, I really do think they need to prove it through the consistency of their actions every day. That’s the way I see it anyway. What are your thoughts?

  7. Pingback: Change and the Credibility Factor | digitalNow |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s