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How to Earn Credibility as a Leader

Sam Bacharach, director of the Cornell Institute for Workplace Studies, explains how to people to believe in your leadership and expertise.

Video Transcript

00:09 Samuel Bacharach: Credibility is a very interesting notion. It's wrapped up with notions of trust. But you go someplace, your credibility or the credibility of your ideas just as important, is a very delicate situation because how do you walk into a room and say "I'm credible." Sometimes I stand in front of some of my students and point out, "What am I supposed to do? Whip out my PhD from the University of Wisconsin and go 'I'm credible?'" Credibility you earn; you earn all the time. Now, you earn it by showing your expertise and you show that. That's modeling behavior. You show your expertise all the time.

00:51 Bacharach: You actually show that. You show people credibility by saying, "I understand the market" by illustrating. You show credibility by illustrating it through behaviors. And there are different forms of credibility. There's credibility that you get by the nature of your authority, by the fact that you're the person in charge. So credibility is about your capacity to get people to believe in you and your product.

01:14 Bacharach: The most important aspect of credibility isn't that simply your sense of expertise or experience, which is essential, but your own history. But your own history. I mean we forget too quickly that each of us has a history. And in organizations, no matter how small your organization is. You can be seven people, when you're not in the room, they're talking about your credibility. "Can he really deliver? Is his ideas really good? Does she really know what she's talking about?" Your history is important. You earn credibility by establishing a track record. You can earn credibility one step at a time.

Last updated: Dec 3, 2013

SAMUEL B. BACHARACH | Columnist | Director, Cornell's Institute of Workplace Studies

Samuel B. Bacharach is the McKelvey-Grant professor in the department of organizational behavior at Cornell University's ILR School, and is director of Cornell's Institute for Workplace Studies in New York City. Among his books are Get Them on Your Side and Keep Them on Your Side. His latest volume, A Good Idea Is Not Enough: Leading for Change and Innovation, will be published this November by BLG.

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