To be persuasive we must be believable;
to be believable we must be credible;
to be credible we must be truthful.
~Edward R. Murro
Have you ever wondered how credibility impacts the decision-making process? I was recently reminded of how important credibility is to success as a leader and how intangible it really is. Credibility typically isn’t something we have or not. Rather, it is more of a linear scale where others assign a rating. The key word here is others. The degree to which we are credible really lies in the perception of the other person.
Take notice even of how Webster’s defines credibility: “Quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest.” We judge others without even thinking, so our behaviors cause others to make a decision about how credible they perceive us. At the heart of whether someone deems us credible or not is the feeling of trust and respect that we inspire.
We typically associate trust with the three C’s: Character, Competence, and Consistency. People trust us and we trust them when these three elements are in place. Let’s take a look at each C.
- Character: Character speaks to doing what we say we’re going to do. It means being honest, sincere, and respectful. People trust us when we follow through on our commitments and feel we have their best interests in mind.
- Competence: In order to gain trust, we must have the capability (knowledge, experience, ability) to complete whatever task we’re asked to do. Establishing credibility begins with demonstrating competence.
- Consistency: We must follow through over time and across all situations. Others must be able to count on us in every situation, or they will begin to doubt. Inconsistency erodes trust because it’s not predictable.
To build trust, all three C’s must be present. Think three-legged stool—take one away, and the stool collapses. To build credibility, focus on the three C’s to invoke trust in your ability.
How do others perceive your character? Your competence? Your level of consistency?