How’s your Credibility?

I wish I had learned this lesson much earlier in my career:

  • Credibility is a necessary factor in your success
  • Good work alone does not build credibility
  • Without credibility, everything else is harder

Or said another way, Credibility is a critical enabler to getting anything significant done.

Successful people get results. But they get results because they have the ability to get more support, approvals, budget, resources, etc. than everybody else.  It’s not just about brainpower, skills and delivery — it’s about support. They get support easily because they have strong personal credibility.

Successful people work fast. They can work fast because they have fewer stupid conversations like, “Why are you spending money on that?,  Why did you hire this person?  Wouldn’t it be better if you did this?”

Credibility is inversely proportional to stupid questions.

A specific version of this is the need to justify your budget, over and over again.  You thought it was approved.  Then you try to move on to more important work (doing stuff) but you end up needing to spend significant additional time to prepare and “sell” a special presentation just to explain your budget to get approval – Again.

Credibility gets you out of this mode.  People with high credibility are given the benefit of the doubt because their judgment is generally trusted.

Successful people have great teams. Great people respond to, respect, and keep working for people with high credibility.

Once you think about credibility as a goal unto itself, you can start building and maintaining it. Then you’ll get more stuff done, and waste less time defending your honor and your budget.

Here are a few ideas that build credibility.

1) Consistent Behaviors
2) Communicating
3) Spend less money

Consistent Behaviors:

The topic of a Personal Brand is a big topic for me, and will be the source of future blog posts.  But at the heart of a strong Brand, personal or corporate, is Consistency.  Your behaviors define your brand, and the behaviors you demonstrate consistently are the things people “know” about you.

Being consistently bad is better than being inconsistently good.  Being inconsistently good just sets people up for disappointment, and when people don’t know what to expect from you, your credibility goes down.

And if you don’t do some specific positive things on purpose, consistently, you run the risk of not being known for anything in particular — which is also not good for your credibility.

Idea for Action: Decide some positive behaviors that support what you want to be known for and commit to doing them consistently.  Listen to podcasts on Personal Brand.

Communicating:

Effective (brief, clear, and relevant) communications with people who have a say in your success, either because they directly depend upon you, or can impact what happens to you, is a fundamental way to build and maintain credibility.

It’s much harder to get support from people who don’t know you, haven’t heard from you in awhile, or who are confused about what it is you are doing.  Keep people informed and in the loop.  Build relationships with your communication.

Positive relationships can entirely eliminate stupid questions and obstacles.

Idea for Action: Develop a communication plan for Your Stakeholders and Influencers. Understand who they are, what they care about, and how they like to communicate and then communicate consistently in the right forms at the right times with them.  Work on this with your team.

Spend less money:

Probably the biggest way you can build credibility without personally bringing revenue into the business is to be known for reducing costs.

It is the job of every manager to find ways to do the things you are currently doing for less cost year over year.  This frees up room to do new stuff.  Businesses can’t just keep adding money to do new things.  You need to show your understanding of that, and do something about it.

People who proactively reduce cost without being asked have high credibility.

Idea for Action: If you go in just asking for more money every year, you will not be nearly as credible as if you say – “Here is where I reduced the cost of “keeping the lights on”; here is where I have applied that savings to fund new initiatives; and here is the (much smaller) budget required for these other new things.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day work and executing your business plan, but remember you will get much more done if you focus on building and maintaining your credibility.  Credibility is as much an enabler to your success as any business deliverable.