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. 


People Really Do Follow the Leader

Follow the leader isn’t just a children’s game. It’s a fact of life.

People really do follow the leader. They do what the leader does. They behave as the leader behaves. They act the way the leader acts.

They don’t very often do what the leader says, unless of course what the leader says is the same thing the leader does. As a leader, who you are makes a difference. The most important message you can share is yourself. Your people watch you constantly, they are watching to determine if you’re the type of leader they can trust. 

Here’s the most basic leadership equation of all: trust = follower-ship. Where there is no trust there can be no true following. True following comes from commitment and while a leader’s position may get them the compliance of their people only trust can earn commitment.

If a leader isn’t trusted by their people then don’t be surprised when the people aren’t trusted by the leader. People really do follow the leader.

Everything a leader says and does either adds to or subtracts from their “credibility bank.” Almost nothing is credibility neutral, everything matters. Authentic leaders know that and work to make certain that their words match their actions as much as possible. 

Let me say this as clearly as I can; if your credibility sinks low enough you may have a title or position of leadership but you’re not leading anymore. You can’t be leading because people can’t follow a leader with low credibility. If you have no followers then you’re not leading no matter what your business card might say.

People do follow the leader but only if that leader is a person they can trust. If you can’t pass the trust test then all your leadership efforts will come up short. Your vision will never be realized, your influence will be limited, and your success will be in doubt. 

If you want to be a leader that people will follow then don’t work for a position or title that people will “have to” follow. Instead work to become the type of person they will want to follow. 

Be the type of person they can trust! 

The Two Types of Truth

When what you do and what you say don’t match which one is the truth? Which one is the real you? How are people supposed to know? Do you even know? 

Is there a professional you and a personal you? A public you and a private you? Why are there two of you? 

I think we become two when we forget our Core Values, or worse, when we don’t know what they are to begin with. Just to be clear, Core Values are those values we hold which from the foundation of who we truly are. These are the values that are so primary and so important that even in a constantly changing world we still abide by them. These values determine how we work, how we interact with people and even which people we allow into our lives. They are the principles we use, or more likely, should be using everyday to determine how we live our lives. 

They also determine who we truly are. Truly!

It is far easier to talk about our Core Values than it is to put them on display. That’s why too often we appear to present two sides of truth: what we say are our values and what our values appear to be to others. 

Most people who see the two sides of your “truth” will just wonder which one is real. That “wonder” can cause doubt and doubt for a leader can be deadly. When your people don’t know which is real, what you say or what you do, they lose faith in your integrity and you lose the opportunity to lead. 

Authentic leaders live what they say. They know there is no stronger credibility than Core Values in action. Like my mom always said, “seeing is believing.” Once again this is where a mentor comes in handy, they care enough about you to call you on your two sides of truth. They won’t judge which one is right but they will cause you to choose between them.

Living our values is not easy, even our Core Values. No one is perfect and at times we will all slip. Core values, may not be at the top of our mind at all times but under pressure and duress they must be there.

As you decide to lead today, ask yourself which side of truth you will present today, the one you believe or the one you say you believe. The closer they are to one and the same, the closer you are to being an authentic leader. 

Are You a Role Model?

Well, are you? The short answer, especially if you’re a leader or even just someone in a leadership position, is yes.

Your people watch you. No one is born with an innate knowledge of what it takes to succeed so they must learn it. They learn some of it by listening, some by reading, but mostly they learn from watching. If you are their leader or the person who is above them in a leadership position then it’s you they are watching.

You are absolutely a role model. The only question is do you model behavior that leads to success or do you model behavior that leads to something else.  

You can tell your people what to do and they may do it. You can show them and they will likely do it, you can tell them and show them and if what you said matches what you do they will most certainly do it. 

Therein lies the problem for people who are leaders only because they occupy a leadership position. Their words often don’t match their actions. They have yet to learn that their people will do what they do long before they will do what they say. They are also surprised when they eventually learn just how closely they are watched by those who would follow them. 

Authentic leaders are careful to make certain that their actions match their words. They realize that is the surest way to build trust and credibility and that those two characteristics are vital for leadership. 

If your goal as a leader is to build other leaders then your words and actions must coincide.  

So, watch what you say and remember, someone else is watching what you do.

Can You be Trusted?

Trust 1Are you a trustworthy person?

Would those who know you, those who interact with you and do business with you agree with your answer? You might be surprised and even though most of us like surprises this is one surprise we could all do without.

Trust is kind of an interesting thing, we can be perfectly honest, always telling the truth and always doing what we say we will do, and still not be trusted. The fact that we’re not trusted might have nothing to do with us at all, it could just be that the other person doesn’t trust anyone. (There could be many reasons for that but this post isn’t about them, it’s about you.)

Trust is interesting in another way too: it is an incredibly valuable commodity yet it cannot be bought or sold, it can only be earned.

That’s why the wisest people in the world, even the truly trustworthy, never stop working to earn the trust of the people they encounter. They know that even the strongest trust can be fragile and they protect it with both their words and actions.

BOTH their words and actions. That to me is the single most important key to trust building – doing what we say we will do when we say we will do it.

When our words don’t match out actions our credibility is eroded and once it’s eroded enough the trust begins to go. Think of it like a shoreline, our interactions with people are like the constant movement of the waves. Our credibility is just like the shoreline, once it’s eroded it’s really, really hard to restore.

So ask yourself this question and be completely honest with yourself: Do your actions match your words? If not, you may not be as trustworthy as you think. The good news is that when your words and actions DO match your credibility level goes up and if you maintain that long enough you’ll win over even the most hard core doubters you meet.


Is Your Mom on Twitter?


I heard a discussion on the radio the other day about the “marketability” of many of the top Olympic athletes. Some of the top medal winners (or earners as I prefer to call them) stand to make millions off their accomplishments.

I think that’s just fantastic, contrary to what some say, I think that people should be rewarded for their sacrifices and efforts.

What surprised me was a comment from a “media expert” about how much certain statements made on social media from some of the athletes would “cost” them.

They (or their mothers) posted stuff about their personal lives, their feelings and thoughts about their teammates or competitors or just said stupid stuff in general.

It’s as if they thought they were writing in their personal journal. It’s as if they thought their words didn’t matter. It’s as if they thought that no one would notice, even though they were in the middle of the worldwide athletic stage.

As a result of their tweets and Facebook posts they could potentially lose millions in endorsements and various product deals. But hey, they got to tell the world about their sex lives so they have that going for them.

Most people don’t have to be concerned about what they post on social media. It not like anyone who matters reads that stuff. Right?


Mark Twain said a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes. Well a tweet or a post is a whole lot faster than that. Once posted, you lose control of the images of the “one fun of night.” Once posted, your words can float around the web forever.

Think before you post!

People that matter DO read what you write. They also look at the pictures you post. Most HR people at least glance at your social footprint before or during the interview process. Do you really want them seeing and reading stuff you would never tell a prospective employer? Remember, your credibility is affected, good or bad, with every single post or tweet.

Think before you post!

Is your mom on Twitter or Facebook? You would be wise to post as if she were and to assume she sees every word and every picture. If you would be embarrassed if your mom saw it then don’t post it cause she just might. A thoughtless, mean spirited or embarrassing post might not cost you millions but it just could cost you something much more valuable. Once gone, regaining your credibility is awfully hard to do.

Think before you post!