“Why Should I Believe You?”

3 Questions that Determine Leadership Credibility

Employees of the younger generations, Gen X and New Millennial, encompass half of the U.S. workforce. These generations don’t bow to authority, they question it. They don’t automatically believe that leaders are telling the truth. Their healthy and irritating skepticism comes from firsthand experience watching lives and organizations melt down. They have been lied to by presidents, CEOs, sports stars, celebrities, legislators and even religious institutions. No group is immune from being labeled when one of their own is caught in a lie.

What can keep a shameful label from sticking to your organization’s leadership? The right answers to three questions:

1. Do you care about me?
2. Can you help me?
3. Can I trust you?

Do You Care?
Look though the eyes of those counting on you – employees, members, or voters. They all want to feel that you, their leader, cares about them as a person. Many leaders are hampered by legalities that sometimes run amok and often replace common sense. One retired executive with Health First shared a story about a colleague who had been told that his mother had died unexpectedly. “He was miserable and in such visible pain. Even though we have a strict policy of ‘no touching,’ I gave him a hug as he dissolved into tears.” Here are some examples of issues that will cause ripples throughout an organization and raise the issue, “Do you care?”
• Changing shift times: Do you provide a lot or little explanation and notice?
• Moving offices: Do you seek input from employees and create options for them?
• Business is declining: Do you share the information or hold it back until it’s too late and you are into layoffs?

Can You Help?
Those following you want to know if you have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help them be successful too. Are you in your leadership role because you have earned it? Have you climbed to the top of this mountain and do you know the pathway and the problems so you can truly guide those who are following you? If not, are you growing yourself to make sure the team is safe on their climb with you? Perhaps you are an accidental leader, promoted when things were good, but you have never really had to face tough decisions or choices. It is hard to lead through a crisis unless you have been there and done that. If you are facing problems you have never experienced get a mentor, coach, or expert to work with you.

Can I Trust You?
Will you do what you say? How valid is your ‘word’? If you tell me something, can you be trusted to tell me everything? Learn to be open, even if it is… “I can’t share all of the information right now.” Are you someone who is known to withhold critical information? Have you ever snapped back: ”Well, you didn’t ask me that”?

In our culture we are averse to long pauses in conversations, but learning to ‘ponder’ before responding can save you from many embarrassing blurted responses. Become known for your thoughtful, carefully considered answers. People will learn to wait and to trust what you say.

You can’t be all things to all people, but you can answer these three questions for yourself and decide what kind of credibility you are creating.
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Kathleen Rich-New specializes in leadership, team development, and communications. She is also a speaker, author, and executive coach. Contact her at (321) 452-7308 or KRN@clarityworks.biz

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Side Bars:

A Lack of Trust in Senior Management
• Only 49 percent of employees have trust and confidence in their senior managers
• Just 55 percent say senior leaders behave consistently with core values
• Only 53 percent believe senior management has made the right changes to stay competitive
Source: Survey by the human resource firm Watson Wyatt.

Common Mistakes of Senior Executives
• 80% fail because of ineffective communication skills and practices
• 79% fail because of poor work relationships and interpersonal skills
• 69% fail because of person/job mismatch
• 61% fail because they didn’t clarify direction and performance expectations
• 56% fail because of delegation and empowerment breakdowns

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