Earlier this week I wrote an article titled Leadership and the 7 I's For Influencing Others. One of the key points is that building and maintaining credibility is imperative for being an influential leader.
As a former Navy SEAL, I can attest to the fact that being a member of any high performance team in any industry or organization requires integrity and credibility. Otherwise, the team will organically (or by force) filter you out.
Let's first take a look at the top six credibility killers.
Poor Professional Image
As compared to the traditional military, the SEAL teams have typically had a persona of relaxed grooming standards: long hair, beards, mix-and-match fatigues and generally a more laid back demeanor. Once we started operating more closely with the Army and Marine Corp in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of war we realized that we needed to respect their culture if we wanted to play the game and land the good operations. Maintaining a professional image on and off the battlefield is a great foundation for building credibility.
Do not engage in it not matter what. I know, sometimes easier said than done. It's not professional and serves no purpose only to prove that you are immature and not fit to truly lead a team. It's that simple.
Overly Aggressive or Passive Style
Sometimes being overly aggressive exhibits a lack of confidence and overcompensation for not having a handle on situations. It makes a leader appear that they can't stay cool under pressure and don't respect feedback from the team. Aggression is a fleeting command-and-control leadership style that simply doesn't work in most environments. On the other hand, being overly passive portrays just the opposite. You either don't care enough or aren't a strong enough leader to take charge. Find the middle ground.
Yes I know, sailors have been known to use bad language now and again. The Chief of my platoon at SEAL Team 5 was a great leader. He did however say the "F" word about five times per sentence. In a business environment, this is obviously unacceptable. As a leader, don't be the top contributor to the swear jar.
Doing the right thing and having good character when nobody is looking is the sign of great character. Questionable behavior inside or outside of the office will be noticed and kills credibility. Star players won't find it amusing.
Association with Unethical People
You are who you associate yourself with. Ethics and good values are critical for great leadership...unless you are an evil dictator of course.
Now that we have defined what kills the credibility of great team members and leaders, let's take a look at the six C's for building and maintaining credibility.
Credibility in leadership comes in many forms. Actively engage these six strategies and you will see measurable results; both in your team and yourself.