Credibility is one of the critical elements of life whether professionally or personally.  It is also one of those conditions that is often illusive.  But why?  How can I become credible and to whom should that credibility be directed to?

You cannot command credibility no more than you can command respect.  If anything the notion of commanding is limited to rigid organized structures, such as the military, as a direct response to risk.  Therefore our credibility must be earned and unfortunately our personalities create the ‘great race’ in pursuit thereof.

I was recently thinking about why management, especially senior executives seems adamant about technical efforts.  Some of  you may have event done a bit of a roadshow of what your approach was about, how it would function and what would be achieved.  In return the response was met with flat faced silence and in some rare cases a subtle nod of the head endorsement.  Rarely did we see out and out conflict unless of course we chose a more adversarial criticism of the company or specific people that are still working there.  So why the lack of enthusiasm and credibility building which didn’t take place?

Context

How often has your brainchild and initiative come totally out of the blue?  Even with having a spot on purpose people do not transition their mindset easily.  To overcome this situation one must ‘prime for preparation’, in other words ask some baited questions to get the whole process started.  Even for those in which your idea is in response to a problem there is often remaining a bit of doubt.  It would be far more appropriate to do a review of conditions in order to affirm or contribute to a broader understanding of the problem.  In doing so we exhibit a sense of capable and conscientious thinking instead of a ‘know it all’ or knee jerked reaction to situations.  This builds trust and also builds confidence.

You may however face a group in which they what to hear your opinions but will follow it up with a line of questioning to affirm responsible and focused attention.  Therefore the preceding remains a sound basis for starting the transforming process.

Audience Interest

The profile of your company will dictate the level of interest.  Whether its good or bad we must completely understand the level of information sharing that is required.  Some organizations expect you to interact in a hierarchical fashion.  Other organizations may employ a network structure where the free flow of ideas and concepts occur across the organization.  Even network organization structures will often expect a degree of decorum in terms of sharing up within its structural walls.  These conditions are not an affront to your credibility it is simply a means in which the organizational leadership has cast its operating paradigm in order to avoid chaos.  While not perfect, as illustrated by the two ton elephant syndrome (painfully slow but purposeful movements), it none the less is a condition in which you are expected to conform to.  As many of us have experienced, trying to change the paradigm reduces our credibility and is often has unsuccessful outcomes.

To a large extent management wants credibility of concept doability.   In the information technology world our history has not served us well.  With such facts as…

  • 17% of all companies experience project failures so sever that they jeopardize the company (McKinsey 2012),
  • 70% of companies experience at least one project failure in the last 12 months (KPMG 2010),
  • Failures in changing mindsets and attitudes (58%), corporate culture (49%) and lack of senior management support (32%) (IBM 2008), and
  • Despite failures success rates even for proven methods have failed to achieve high rates of success.  70% of respondents have been involved with projects that failed from the onset.  Agile projects 72% success rate vs. traditional approaches at 63% (Dr. Dobbs Journal 08/2007 & 10/2011)

Conditions have created both complacency (it is what it is) and also trepidation about change, even when for the better.   This reflects a concern about credibility even when the individual is worthy but conditions are not.  How can this be overcome?

Electrifying Credibility

We must regain control of our professional and personal worlds through building credibility.   At the center of this is trust, not hype.  Today we see allot of hype and this has created a carnival atmosphere about topics and technologies.  To build a trust relationship also commands a commitment to sustaining it.  A lack of attention will not only destroy trust but will create an almost impossible challenge to regain trust.  Our level of vigilant attention to trust maintenance will challenge us and can possible even result in becoming apart from the mainstream.  Are you up for that challenge or will you simply wait and see when it happens.  Truly the decision is yours to make.

There are seven (7) elements to gaining credibility.

  1. Define your values and mission.  Without context great ideas can get lost, misunderstood and possible be discounted as a standalone idea.
  2. Know your personality and your personal brand.  We see adoration being given to people based on name, company association, title or success.  These points of brand personality vary with societies.  In some cultures its held in high regard while in others it simply considered a condition.
  3. Set your boundaries.  Limit your domain of abilities as well as the circle of credibility that you have.  As the saying goes “maintain healthy boundaries”.
  4. Chose how and where to showcase.   In the course of building your credibility you will have numerous opportunities to showcase who you are and what you level of credible trust is.  Don’t expect to hit a home run with every chance you have to swing.  Pick your opportunities and recognize its important to chose the right means to showcase.  Maybe its a thoughtful note or a focused illustration that will give you and opportunity to perfect your credibility.  Also beware that complexity and commanded attention are dangerous as well as potentially damaging.
  5. Release your Authenticity.  Be yourself and if by chance there are things about you that aren’t particularly endearing to others, keep them tucked away.  Restraint is better than uncontrolled transparency.
  6. Consistency.  Inconsistency as the potential for confusion and mistrust.  Not that you are trying to be misleading its just that your irregular presence makes conditions unstable.  People seek consistency even when conditions are not perfect.  Change and the ability to transition are challenged by inconsistencies and the classic “it depends” creates no added comfort for those simply trying to overcome their concerns.
  7. Be Prepared for Opposition.  It is going to happen and it may come from a variety of reasons.  Some possibilities;
    • new out of context situations
    • paradigm contention
    • past history
    • wrong vehicle for conveying message
    • compliance failure in the chain of communication
    • current conditions
    • receiver state of mind and status and
    • lack of endorsement

Next-Next

Practice makes perfect and perfect results in credibility.  Credibility will become second nature but one must remain vigilant to maintain our credibility.  Even as a sage citizen with profound accomplishments and accolades one must remain eternally humble and trustworthy.   Unfortunately some err on the side of personality, connections and luck to achieve a level of perceived credibility.  This is just the way it is, don’t sweat it.  Focus on building your credibility and with that it will create trust.

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