By: Connie Wedel
Whether you are an individual contributor, an aspiring groundbreaker, or a tried-and-true leader, the quality that amplifies a woman’s success is credibility. Your path to career success is smoother when you are seen as “credible.”
What is Credibility?
When you are credible, others have confidence in you because they see you as believable, competent and trustworthy. Credibility is the main precursor to building trust. As we go through our day-to-day lives, we want friends we can trust. We do business with people we trust. We hire people we trust. We follow leaders we trust.
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What happens when people see you as credible? To start, people are open to listen to your ideas and respect your expertise. From there on, your influence grows. The upshot of being credible is that you will be taken seriously.
What can you do every day to become more credible? The four must-dos are described in Covey’s four core principles of credibility. They are integrity, intent, capability and results. Let’s explore more how these principles work.
Integrity is More Than Honesty
The foundational core is integrity. People who work with integrity consistently do the right thing in just ways. Their behaviors consistently align with their values. They treat others with decency and fairness. Time and time again when you behave with integrity, you build your credibility.
On the flip side, violations of integrity are the biggest destroyers of credibility. In recent years, we’ve seen many cases of high-profile people who had major lapses in integrity. Remember these famous people who were on top of the world and fell hard and fast from grace? Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Anthony Weiner, and Martha Stewart. Even if you’re not famous, when your integrity is suspect, you may find yourself paying a heavy “trust tax.”
Intent is a Delicate Balancing Act
People are smart. Don’t be surprised when people scrutinize the intent behind your actions. Respect is gained when your intent includes bettering the people around you. Individuals whose intent is viewed as mutually beneficial will garner credibility and support.
Individuals who mostly look out for themselves, at the expense of others, will often lose credibility because of self-centered agendas.
Case in point, recently a coworker’s intent was questioned when he misled a senior executive team. It happened when John was a member of the company’s relocation committee. One day, John invited the committee to visit a new site he had located. When we arrived, members asked John why this site was south of our location when 80% of the employees lived north of our existing building. John admitted it was closer to his home. In one fell swoop, John’s agenda surfaced and his credibility was immediately compromised. The committee now distrusted him. Besides that, the incident spread through the company grapevine. John’s reputation turned into someone who only looked out for #1. His credibility was damaged by one poorly motivated decision.
On the other hand, women must be cognizant to their intent and the notion of being mutually beneficial. Women will sometimes put their own wants and needs behind those of others. For working women, altruism is a delicate balancing act. Women should develop personal strategies to ensure their visible intent is balanced and not skewed in one direction.
Are You Capable?
The third core is capability. It is the measurement of your ability to do your work well. Do you have the talent, attitude, knowledge and style to deliver competently on the tasks assigned to you? To gain credibility, you must also be competent.
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Competence is enhanced by keeping yourself up to date on knowledge, skills and trends in your area of expertise. If you’re not learning and keeping yourself up to date, know that your competition is.
There is a challenge for underrepresented groups in the workplace. For women, success can be undermined by unconscious gender bias or the expectations on how women should act in the workplace. Ways to counteract these negative pressures are to:
- Believe you are good.
- Seek out and take high-profile, high-value assignments.
- Take credit when it is due. Do not allow yourself or others to down play your work or position.
- Watch for minimizing language. Remove lessening statements such as, “It was nothing.”
- Know that your workplace is not a meritocracy. Hard work means nothing without visibility and acknowledgement.
- Own and take credit for your ideas – do not give them away.
- Learn the rules of your business’ game and learn to play them well.
Results are Valued More Than Effort
The cold, hard fact in the business world is that you will be judged on results; not on effort. Your results build credibility and trust. You are evaluated on your accomplishment track record. Here are a few helpful hacks to guide you on your road to results.
- Visualize your success. Use your emotions and drive for self-motivation.
- Squash your negative self-talk and manage self-imposed doubts.
- Seek out constructive, tough feedback from your managers. 46% of men say they receive difficult feedback, while only 36% of women say they do.
- Set you standards to deliver good results, but do not delay trying to achieve perfect results.
Although it may not be fair, women sometimes need to meet higher standards than men. Women are judged more harshly than men on both sides of the success-and-failure yardstick. Keep records, data and facts at your deposal. When results go well, you can take credit based on the facts. Likewise, when things do not go well, you have the evidence of how you are going to address it.
Women need to have strategies to overcome everyday workplace challenges and gender bias. A key strategy is to build (and maintain) credibility. Credibility builds influence and trust. In turn when you are influential and trusted, your professional and personal power becomes formidable.
Connie Wedel is a global HR executive, diversity proponent, equal rights advocate, leadership coach, writer, speaker and mom. Her advice has been found on EllevateNetwork, Huffington Post, Business Insider and the Chicago Tribune.
Ellevate Network is a global women’s network: the essential resource for professional women who create, inspire and lead. Together, we #InvestInWomen.