How Credible Are You?

Silicon Cape
09 Oct 2009

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How Credible Are You?

In this world we live and die by our credibility says karl smith, author of Beyond The Business Handshake: Dare To Build High-Trust Business Relationships. It takes years to build up a level of credibility and you have to maintain it constantly or lose it in an instant! When asked about the definition of credibility, you might say, “I know it when I see it,” – like I know friendly or likeable. When pressed, however, do you really know the definition of credibility? Don’t be fooled into thinking this is an academic or unimportant question, cautions Smith.

If you can’t define credibility or identify its elements, you can’t take advantage of opportunities to boost your credibility and your success. Credibility is positively correlated to success in every sphere of life and is an important aspect for a leader, manager, employee, job seeker or entrepreneur. So what is credibility? Credibility refers to the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message. Traditionally, credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise. There are three levels to your credibility. Namely how you perceive yourself, how others perceive you and finally how you are perceived within the organisation.

Credibility is; “The level of respect others have about you.” The Webster dictionary defines credibility as the power to inspire belief. The word credibility comes from the Latin word “credere” meaning “to believe.” If something or someone is not credible, the word incredible is applied. Moreover, credibility is not something you physically possess, but rather a quality or trait imputed to you by others. The ability to perform is integral to credibility. It is the confidence that others have in your ability to deliver results. Credibility requires that managers and employees have strong knowledge of both their duties and the business. It grows when appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, facts are verified and services are rendered.

It is also important to note that credibility and trust are developed with people, not with companies and it starts with you. Another expert Stephen M.R Covey says, it’s about developing the integrity, intent, capabilities, and results that make you believable, both to yourself and others. When the person with whom you have a strong partnership leaves the position and someone new takes on that job, the work to build a partnership must begin anew. Unlike height or weight, your measure of credibility isn’t an objective measure. It is not something you either have or you don’t. Credibility is more like a linear scale on which others give you a rating. It is a perceived quality, one that people assign to you. As credibility goes up, so does other’s willingness to: • Believe what you believe • Value what you value • Support your plans • Help you achieve your goals • Be honest with you • Trust you

Credibility is context-dependent, and an expert in one situation may be incompetent in another. Credibility, once conferred, is not immutable. Because it is transactional in nature, it can be rescinded at any time. An indiscrete act or an unethical remark could easily invalidate previously assigned credibility. Whether you have a flourishing company, starting a business, manage people, or perhaps you are searching for a job there are two important words to keep in mind: credibility and trust. Credibility comes before trust and is part of how trust is created.

Many executives, managers, entrepreneurs, employees etc don’t get the cooperation and results they desire because they lack credibility! Says Smith, today many companies pay a huge price for organizational ills such as miscommunication, glass ceilings, redundant hierarchy, excessive time wasted defending positions and decisions, painful micromanagement and bureaucracy, dysfunctional and toxic culture ( open warfare, sabotage, grievances, hidden agendas, suspicion etc), lack of teamwork, diversity related conflict and so forth. But as one gets to roots of most of these challenges one finds that it merely boils down to a lack of knowledge and skills to build credibility and trust. So what is your most important asset? Credibility. Don’t compromise it. You won’t find it on your balance sheet, or in the warehouse, or even in the board room. But like no other asset, it can make or break your career and business success. And, while that credibility cannot be controlled, it can be managed and the skills to build it can be taught.

Copyright 2009 by Karl Smith
This article may be copied or republished with the following credit:
“By Karl Smith, Author: Beyond The Business Handshake: Dare To Build High-Trust Business Relationships & South Africa’s Business Networking and Referral Coach, Cape Town, South Africa. +27 (0) 082 7779431 “”