Mr Rockefeller, the richest man who has ever lived in America, said: “I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.” It means dealing and connecting with people at all levels is considered to be the highest valued skill across the globe. You won’t surprise with Mr Rockefeller’s statement provided if you realise that the growth of any organisation is not limited by its opportunities but by their leader.
There is a world of difference between managing Vs leading people. Leaders have people that follow them, while managers have people who work for them. Leading involves the action of the leader walking someone through something, actually holding their hand and moving forward with them, whereas management is all about planning and execution. The main difference between mere management and leadership is communication. Therefore if you want to lead someone, you need to be able to communicate with them effectively.
I am a corporate executive, leadership practitioner and evangelist. With my 20 years of corporate journey, if anyone asks me to say one word which is indispensable to a leaders success then without any hesitation, I would choose the word credibility. It is easy for someone to be a people magnet and having the charisma and attract people into their organisation. People may walk to work with you, but without credibility, people won’t stay in your organisation any longer. Let me explain how and why credibility is the new currency for leadership.
If you step into a leadership position with good communication and connecting skills, then people will listen, believe and follow you. At the beginning of your leadership relationship with people, words are very important. People take what you say at face value because they don’t know you. So whatever you say during the first few months people will take notes and follow religiously because they believe in you. The first six months communication overrides credibility.
After six months credibility overrides communication. Let me explain how. The greatest motivational principle in the world is people do what people see. Leadership and life are always visual and are more caught than taught else; it will be shallow. As you continue to stay with your people and continue to lead those people, something very interesting will happen. The longer you are with them, the less weight your words have and the more weight your actions have. Now that they know you more, and your behaviour and they no longer take you on face value.
Do as I say, not as I do attitude won’t take you any longer in our leadership journey. You should be a worthy example so that people will say someday I would like to be just like him. People may not always remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. The first question people ask a leader is, do you care for me? People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
To gain credibility as a leader whom people love to follow, you must have a heart for people, passion to inspire them, and willingness to empower them. The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them. Let people start where they are, and trust them to succeed. Your credibility depends on your track record of making a difference in peoples lives and peoples belief in you that you will do what you will say.
Once you build the reputation and trust that you are someone who honours the given commitments and promises and worthy of peoples trust then over time, your credibility factor increases with your people and in turn, helps your company. It becomes your currency which you can exchange to expand your influence with existing teams for a higher performance and commitment levels or with new teams and eventually with your customers. According to Edward R. Murrow, “To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful.” People will always look out for leaders who will take them forward with dignity and integrity to build a better tomorrow.
# Walk the talk
More than title authority and reputation, a leader should have moral authority. Moral authority is earned by our walk but not by our talk. As a leader, either we can talk our way, or we can walk our way. Your talk talks, and your walk talks. But your walk talks a lot more than your talk talks. Sometimes there is a need for leaders to “talk the walk”. It sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but it’s not because there are situations in your business where you need to talk the walk too. As a leader, you should be able to explain why you do what you do in a language that is unique to your field and compelling to your people and customers.
I know many leaders who can win people with their big and exciting ideas and excellent communication. But they cannot follow through and finish what they have started. Therefore they make themselves known for not completing things what they say they will do. These leaders who are competent and super smart at starting things but lacks the motivation, discipline and planning to finish them; therefore, people eventually stop believing in them. Imagine what if you are someone who meticulously follows through on your commitments and responsibilities? For sure, you will build trust and currency of credibility with your people, stakeholders and customers. In such a setting people will listen to you, act fast and never hesitate to go the extra mile. As a leader, you always attract who you are, not who you want to.
#Be a tour guide, not a travel agent
Always remember one thing you cannot give what you do not have. Therefore a credible leader is like a tour guide, not a travel agent. Travel agents send people to destinations that they have never visited. On the other hand, a tour guide is completely familiar with the area, including its culture, history, visitor timings, attractions, etc. No tour guide can lead others effectively without having been there first and studying its details thoroughly. Therefore you should depend less on your title and more on your influence with your people.
# Call To Action
The challenge is that when we lose credibility, we lose the ability to lead and influence others. John Maxwell says credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt.” When your people trust you, then they will listen to you. They will be open to being inspired by you. If you are a one time leader, people will often give you the benefit of the doubt, as long as your credentials are good. But if you’re going to lead the same people time and again, you have to work to maintain your credibility.