Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Five Factors that Fuel Your Engine of Credibility

So much so that, without it:

People will not buy from you.
People will not listen to you.
People will not open up with you.
People will not put their trust in you.

People will not take you seriously.
People will not consider your ideas.
People will not seek out your opinion.
People will not tell others to do the same.

Action is the engine of credibility.

THEREFORE: It does not matter what you believe. Or intend. Or even what you say.

Believing is overrated. Intending is useless. Talking is worthless.

Doing, on the other hand, isn’t.

It never has been.

Action is, has always been – and will always be – eloquence.

And your challenge is to continuously TAKE massive action. Every day. Constantly shoveling coal into your engine of credibility.

Here are five practices for doing so...

1. Study the origin. The word “credibility” comes from the Latin creditum, which means, “a loan, thing entrusted to another.” That’s interesting. Credibility is on loan.

Which mean your stoppage in action will make the engine sputter. Which means your credibility might take years to assemble, but only seconds to annihilate. Yikes. How are you marring your own credibility? What is diminishing the perception of your expertise? And how might you be (accidentally) making yourself appear less trustworthy?

2. Close the credibility gap. A few months ago I turned my radio to NPR to listen to the daily news show, “All Things Considered.” I’m not sure whom they were discussing, specifically, but the quotation was, “I couldn’t listen to his testimony because there wasn’t a shred of credibility in his being.”

Wow. Kind of makes you wonder: (1) whom the talking about? And (2) what that guy did to warrant such a gap? Zoinks. How could YOU make credibility disappear completely? What if you wrote a list on how to do so, printed it out and looked at it everyday? Think that would help close the gap?

3. Take daily steps to strengthen your foundation of personal credibility. In the (totally awesome!) book Credibility, authors Kouzes & Posner explain, “Credibility is a foundation built brick by brick. It’s earned through human contact, gained in small quantities though physical presence.”

That’s what being an approachable leader IS. You don’t have to work for some huge company. You don’t need thousands of followers. One person is enough. (Which, I suppose, makes us ALL leaders.)

And so, in that simple encounter, you listen, you transfer passion and you demonstrate emotional reliability. And over time, your foundation grows more robust. That’s how credibility is earned. How are you using your interactions to earn trust? What action have you taken (specifically) in the last 24 hours to boost your credibility? And how many other people witnessed it?

4. Learn to regain credibility after a failure. Fine. You screwed up. Big deal. Happens all the time. The secret is the way you respond to it. To quote the book Managing Up, “The bigger or more far reaching the consequences of your idea, the more you should expect to have your personal credibility examined.”

So, here’s how to regain credibility: Recognize it. Own up to it. Ask your people to help your rebuild it. Make a commitment to doing so. Visually remind people of your progress toward that commitment during the process. Maintain consistency until they trust you again. Thank them for sticking with you. Never stop building credibility in everything you do. And make sure that credibility is relevant. How will you use action to bounce back? What have you done (specifically) in the last 24 hours to boost your credibility? And how many other people witnessed it?

5. Create a credibility-strengthening plan. I suggest physically writing it out, signing it and posting it in a visible location in your office. This not only allows you to clarify your plan on paper, but also serves an effective tool for keeping yourself accountable.

Now, in terms of what your plan consists of, that’s up to you. Just remember: Make it daily, make it specific and make sure it involves one-on-one interactions with people. Those encounters are the soil in which your credibility will grow. What's your plan? How will you stick to it? And what will stand in your way of sticking to it?

In summary, I’d like to quote a great song called “When You’re Traveling at the Speed of Light” by one of my new favorite bands, These United States. In the final refrain, there’s a lyric sung repeatedly for about two minutes before fading out. It goes like this:

“If the thing that drives you onward is your heart, you must not let that engine die.”

Great line. And when I was listening to that album this morning, I started thinking: What would happen if I plugged that lyric into today’s topic?

It might go something like this:

“If the thing that drives your credibility onward is your action, you must not let that engine die.”

LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Is your credibility engine dying?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.

Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!