When people are promoted to leadership roles, one thing they struggle to develop is credibility. If promoted from within, they likely have credibility around their work, but not necessarily their leadership. If new to the organization, they might have some leadership credibility, but no credibility around their work or the organization. Regardless of the situation, leadership credibility is critical, and new leaders likely lack it. It is a challenge rarely considered, which is why I’m writing about it here.
To start this conversation here are two questions you might be asking:
- Are there ways to jumpstart the credibility establishment process?
- Can I help others do it?
The answers are yes, and yes. Let’s explore some ways to do both.
Jumpstarting the Creation of Credibility
Credibility comes from a mix of expertise, integrity, likeability, and reliability. Given that, it can be earned but might come slowly – that is why thinking about how to build it more quickly is worth considering. Here are five things can you do to jumpstart the growth of leadership credibility.
- Focus on being likeable. Leadership credibility is built in part on how much people like you. This doesn’t mean placing your entire focus on having people like you is a good idea. If you make that your goal, there will be unintended consequences, and might not build credibility anyway (no one loves a suck-up). Regardless, being kind, being understanding, and being interested in others, their perspectives, and needs will build leadership credibility faster than you might think.
- Listen early and often. One of the best ways to be likeable, and one of the best ways to learn something at the same time, is to ask questions and listen. Whether asking to learn about a person, their concerns, or to get their input on the solution to a problem, when you listen to others, they see you as wiser and more credible.
- Deliver on commitments. We are more credible when we are seen as reliable, so make sure you are delivering on commitments as completely as possible. Remember that little things matter here. Remember that early in your role when people don’t have many examples to judge your reliability on, so each instance is doubly important.
- Share expertise. If you are coming from outside the team, let people know about your background. Not in a “know-it-all” way, but so people literally know what you have done. Bring your expertise humbly, not as “That’s not how we did it where I was” – which will likely build resentment more than credibility.
- Remember who is deciding. Credibility is determined by others – they decide. Remember this and remain humble and focused on the needs of others, and you will likely build it more quickly than by trying to “prove” it to them.
How You Can Help
If you are the leader of the new leader, you naturally want them to succeed, and as we have seen credibility is a part of their success. Here are three things you can do to help them build their leadership credibility more quickly and consistently:
- Make a great introduction. Credibility starts immediately. If the new leader is coming from within, and the team knows them, help the team know why they were selected. This will set them up to succeed. If the new leader comes from outside the organization, make sure you introduce them in way that builds their credibility. Keeping this in mind will help your introduction create better first impressions.
- Make them aware. Talk with the new leader about the importance of credibility. Remind them that it comes from being focused on others, not by “puffing themselves up.” Share this article with them to help create the awareness of the importance of leadership credibility and to give them some tangible suggestions.
- Coach on credibility. Make credibility something you are watching for as you observe the new leader in their interactions with their team. Notice how the team is reacting to them and warming up to them, or not. Your observations will allow you to coach them on how they are building credibility.
Doing these three things will be a big help to them as they get a great start as the leader of their new team.
Leadership credibility is too important to be left to chance and time. Use the ideas in this article and you will build healthy credibility more quickly. When you do, everyone will be more successful and effective.
If you are looking to support your new or front-line leaders, join me for a free webinar on March 28th, titled 5 Keys to a Wildly Successful New Supervisor Training Process. All the details and registration information can be found here.