There’s no shortcut to credibility

Credibility -like respect- is hard to earn, tough to sustain, easy to lose and wanted by everyone.

Like many illusive treasures, it has to be found on your own. There are, however, some clues to guide you as well as some dead-ends to avoid.

In the blur of daily events, many paths look tempting. Degrees and promotions offer the illusion of automatic credibility. It's easy to be misled into thinking that dedication and seniority alone achieve credibility. Some people think technical expertise is the secret to credibility. They're right to a point. They have the map, but the directions are in code. Let's try to crack it:

·        If you don't know, say so. Honesty is a great trust builder. If you don't know the answer, admit it but guarantee that you'll find it. Then leave no stone un-turned.

·        Follow through on requests. No matter how insignificant it may seem to you, it's important to the initiator. Consider each one a test.

·        Follow up on your own requests. Hold people accountable. Jot a note on your calendar or use a pending file to follow up on assignments and requests for information. If you don't take your own delegation seriously, neither will anyone else.

·        Return phone calls. Set a goal of returning all calls within one hour. If that's unrealistic, shoot for the end of the day. If that's impossible, try to have someone get back to the caller, or call early the next day.

·        Share power.. Hoarding information and stealing credit always gets you in the end. Remember the greedy guy in all those treasure hunt movies?

·        Develop the visual image. A rule of thumb is to dress and act like the people at the next level above you. (After all, they are judging your credibility.)

·        Link your goals to those of the company. If you're perceived as doing things for selfish reasons, you won't be trusted. Corporate loyalty counts.

·        Write well. In short: short words, short sentences, short paragraphs. Cut the jargon - most people aren't impressed and the rest are irritated.

·        Be dependable. If you're afraid you can't keep your promise, don't make it in the first place. Play "Beat the Boss." Beat his or her deadline, answer the question before it's asked, think of it first.

·        Speak assertively but with tact. Disagree with the idea but don't attack the person behind it. Avoid disqualifiers such as, sort of, kind of and maybe. Speak up at meetings and look at everyone in the group when you speak...not just the boss.

·        Get along with your boss. If will be easier to lobby for support for new ideas, and those above you will take comfort in knowing you have good interpersonal skills and won't make trouble. They also won't worry about where to move you in your next promotion.

·        Keep up technically. Read everything you can get your hands on. Network with others in your field. Keep your boss and others in your company up-to-date on the latest advancements in your field.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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