Examining, Building or Fracturing Credibility part 1

What does ‘Credibility’ mean to you? Does it hold the same meaning for others?

For now let us agree that:

Credibility is the quality of being believed or trusted.

More often then not credibility in our work environment is interpreted in different ways. Action - and consequently the outcomes - tell their own story.

In this article we will explore:

  • What skills you need to present to be seen to be credible, and
  • What impact you need to create.

In our next two articles we will explore:

  • The conundrum; why it is so difficult to build credibility in daily life?
  • Whether lost credibility can be recovered.

In reality

How many times have you chosen to do something yourself rather then delegate to someone who has let you down? Perhaps it was failing to deliver on the promised date, or to the standard you expected, or both? Their credibility is tarnished.

Perhaps you have experienced stonewalling, a situation where someone appears to be deliberately withholding information. Instantly, the question arises ‘what else are they not telling me? Can I trust them’? Their credibility is fractured.

Some relationships recover, many do not.

Credibility is the one quality almost everyone claims to possess. Most people are defensive when they feel their credibility is called into question.

What skills do you need to present to be seen to be credible?


It is not just the words we communicate with, our associated tone and gestures may tell their own story. This story often exists outside our conscious awareness and in juxtaposition, to our words.

To be seen to be credible it is imperative to have congruency between the three components of communication; our words (the technical component), our tone (the formal component), our gestures (the informal component).


Be real: being authentic is paramount.

In a world of constant meetings, mobiles, email, busy schedules, and constant deadlines it is easy to stay in the headspace of the task or issue dominating your time. So any genuine interest for the conversation topic you may actually be in could be perceived as non-existent.

Alternatively, a lack of genuine interest in the topic requires being authentically interested in different points of view that are presented, creating open dialogue focused on organisational outcomes. I like to think of the organisational outcome as another entity in the discussion. this approach permits real questions, honest contributions, reduces interruptions and prompts mutual listening, understanding and respect.

What impact do you need to create

To engender trust, you need

To be transparent. People trust what they can see. Leaders who talk clearly and openly about intentions and values inspire trust. The application of these parameters consistently reassures those who NEED to believe in you. Be accountable for decisions and actions and be prepared to step up and own a mistake. Nothing alienates more than someone who is renowned for finger pointing or harnessing the weasel words when things go wrong. Evasive manoeuvres scream non-credible. Studies examining what behaviours best define an honest person have nominated  “admitting mistakes” ranks second to “tells the truth”. An organisation’s culture and a leader’s credibility is at risk when you do not admit an error or quietly correct a mistake without acknowledging it.

Be there at the front when the bad news is to be delivered - credible leaders do so because those relying on them need to know that the person they have put their faith in will be available when times are troubled. Just as much as when times are good. It gives confidence in the administration and management even when the outcome may be unpleasant. Actions speak volumes in a crowded environment - take every possible opportunity to show your staff that you are willing to perform whatever tasks are necessary.

Belief in these who:

Do what they say - and say what they do. To be credible you need to demonstrate not only and understanding of an issue but also the experience of implementation so there is no gaps between intention and execution. Be honest and open about expectations.  Avoid the urge to guild the lily.  It’s okay not to know something – it’s far better to get back later with an answer than to fudge, defend or ignore.

Avoid turning disappointments into failure. Under sell and over deliver – managing expectations is part of building the credibility pyramid – and those who over promise and fail to deliver are consistently marked down. Disappointments – like acid - eat away at credibility eventually turning disappointments into a reputation for failure.

Ensure your message is understood. Make sure you’re sending the message you mean to send. The meaning of the message is processes and interpreted by the receiver. It may have no resemblance to the message you intended to send.

Ensure they have understood others. By clarifying their message and expectations of yourself and others it fosters the sense that their voice is heard. Thus managing expectations and potentially promoting positive outcomes to the culture and team.

The easy part is talking about credibility. Building it, protecting it, nurturing it and delivering it in the hurly burly of daily corporate life is tough. In the next two postings I will be examining how to be credible in daily life and how to recover from a ‘train crash’.

If you want to take a deep dive consider a one-on-one coaching programme and learn how do you build your credibility and make your message stand out in a world filled with chatter, ego's and the odd narcissist (or two).

Live life, Cheers Tess