It All Matters

I have this thought that we all have have what I call a credibility bank. Every time we do or say anything either a deposit or withdrawal is made from our account. Every time! That means everything we say or do matters, all of it, all the time.

 

When we do what we say we will a small deposit is made. When we fail to do what we say, or we say something that doesn’t align with our stated values or principles, a very large withdrawal is made. So we get very little “credit” when we do what’s right but we are heavily penalized when we do what’s considered wrong. 

 

That almost doesn’t seem fair but it is what it is.

 

There are no neutral actions or interactions. Everything you do and say either improves your standing with others or lessons it to some degree. Everything you say and do either leaves a person feeling better about you and themselves or worse. 

 

Your words and actions matter, all of them. 

 

That’s why it’s so hard to pretend to be someone you’re not. Over time the real you comes out. You can fool some people for a long time but not for all time. 

 

That’s why I would always tell aspiring leaders not to try to look or act like a leader. Simply lead. Don’t try to be the kind of person someone would want to follow, be, really be, the kind of person someone would want to follow. 

 

Understand that your words and actions will determine whether or not you earn the opportunity to truly lead. If your credibility account drops too low that opportunity will be lost because without credibility you simply cannot lead.

 

Don’t let that happen to you. You are a combination of what you say and what you do, when those two align your credibility balance will grow by the day. If they don’t align it will drop like a rock.


It all matters!

Trusted Leadership

Congratulations on having a big shot sounding title or a lofty position at some company. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’ve worked hard to earn your position and I’m also going to give you some advice: don’t screw it up.

Don’t screw it up by assuming that any title or position can make you a leader. Positions don’t make someone a leader and neither does a title. Saying you’re a leader doesn’t make you a leader either. 

In fact there is only one thing that can truly make you a leader and that’s followers. If no one is following you then you may occupy a leadership position but you are most certainly not a leader.

The privilege to lead, and make no mistake, leading is a privilege, cannot be given through promotion. The privilege to lead must be earned and it must be earned everyday.

People don’t follow positions or titles they follow people. Therefore, do not aspire to a position that people will have to follow. Aspire to be the type of person they will want to follow. 

If you’re wondering what makes a person “followable” (did I just make up another new word?) then just ask look at the people you’ve considered to be good leaders in your life.

Most likely you trusted them. I say that because people want, actually people need, a leader they can trust. Leadership without trust is like a car without gas, it might look nice but it doesn’t go anywhere. 

To build trust you should know, you need to know and you must know that everything you say and do either adds to or subtracts from your credibility. It all counts, every last word and action. If you’re not ready or willing to live under that kind of magnifying glass then perhaps you’re not ready to lead. 

The good news is that you don’t have to be perfect to lead; there are no perfect leaders on earth. But some leaders are better than others and one key thing that makes them better leaders is that more times than not, many more times in fact, their words and their actions match. 

To be a leader you must have a follower and for someone to be a true follower they must be committed to you as a leader. You should never believe, even for a moment that someone will commit to you if they can’t trust you. They may “follow from the edges” but that’s not at all the same as commitment. You must be clear on that fact or you’ll fool yourself into thinking you’re leading when you’re not.

Leadership works best when the leader sees the word trust as a verb rather than a noun. 

How do you see trust? 

What is This Integrity Thing?

Honesty. Credibility. Integrity. Many so called experts seem to think they are all basically the same thing. A horse a piece. Six of one, half dozen of the other. Apples to apples. No difference at all. 

I disagree. 

Integrity is deeply personal, it is who you are, inside. 

If matching your words and actions lead to credibility, as I believe they do, then integrity is when your words and actions BOTH match your deepest held beliefs. ALWAYS!

You see, you either have integrity all the time or you don’t have integrity at all. I completely understand that by that definition very few people truly have integrity. I also understand that I am NOT among those few. 

I’m a work in progress… deal with it.

I’m not writing this post to admit to or announce my shortcomings. Those who know me best are fully aware of my foibles of which there are many. 

I’m writing this so that whoever reads it can understand that they too are a work in progress and that it’s okay. While it doesn’t make you perfect it does make you human and that’s a good thing. There is no need to pretend that you are perfect, in fact, pretending that you are actually subtracts from your integrity.

 As I plan some personal goals for 2016 I’m going to work hard to see everyone else as the same work in progress that I am. I’m going to assume that they also want to be better and I’m going to cut them a whole lot more slack than I have in the past. I’ll bet I will be happier then when I hold others to standards that I can’t meet.

Never use the fact that you don’t have integrity all the time as an excuse for not having integrity at all. Fight to be the person you would admire, the person you can admire in every circumstance. You will fall short at times but don’t use that as an excuse for not trying. 

You and I may not have integrity according to my very tough definition but that doesn’t mean we can’t come closer to it than most. Do what you truly believe to be right, live your values, makes the tough, often less fun choices and you’ll be on your way to being the person you truly want to be.

How Much is Your Credibility Worth?

What’s your most prized possession? When you ask that question to a group of people you get some very interesting answers. You also get a lot of different answers, some very personal answers. 

You also discover that very few people say credibility. It’s not that they don’t value credibility, it’s just that most of us don’t think of credibility in terms of something we possess. Credibility is just something that exists, it’s just sort of there. We know it’s important, we want to be seen as credible, we want the people around us to be credible, we simply value credibility.

So we say.

But then we go out and do things that destroy our credibility. We say one thing and do another. We criticize someone for doing something as we’re doing the exact same thing. We behave or speak in a manner that we know is wrong, at least we know it’s wrong when somebody else does it. 

We say credibility matters but often act as if it doesn’t. 

There are literally a million ways for us to negatively impact our credibility but I’m going to focus on one because it’s so pervasive, maybe not as much as it used to be but I’d still bet it’s the number one destroyer of credibility today, especially in business circles.

It’s drinking while working. (DWW) Let me define drinking while “working.” If you’re with customers, co-workers, at an “after-hours”  work function, or just somewhere people you work with or for might be, you’re working. If you’re out in public wearing a shirt or jacket with your company’s logo on it, you’re working. If you’re sitting in an airport with your backpack next to you and your backpack has your business card attached to it, you’re working. I could go on but I think you get the idea, “working” goes way beyond sitting behind your desk at 3:00 in the afternoon.

If you believe for a minute that you can go out and get completely wasted with a group of your business associates or customers and not damage your credibility with them you are completely and totally wrong.

Credibility does not just exist, it is built and re-built everyday. The things, all things, that we say and do matter, they all count. Every single thing you say and do either adds to or subtracts from your credibility. I wish that wasn’t true but it is.

We can’t live 100% of the time being “careful” with what we say and do to protect our credibility. We are human beings, prone to doing and saying dumb stuff from time to time. Those dumb things will sometimes harm our credibility and no matter how hard we try to avoid them, they will happen.

Which makes DWW all the worse, it is a choice, at least it is for the vast majority of people. If the waiter came over at asked “what would you like to destroy your credibility tonight?” we might think twice before ordering. Unfortunately, they say, “what would you like to drink?”

Just how much is your credibility worth? One beer? Two or three? Maybe you’re a very credible person and yours is worth 10 or 12…. oh wait, it doesn’t work that way.

The more you drink while working the less credible you will be, if you want to argue that point go ahead and order another, it’s only your credibility.