How To Be A Credible Leader
It's all too common to disagree with people in higher positions when they make choices for our organizations, especially if we don’t know the reasons or facts involved in the decision-making process. These feeling can be especially exacerbated in big companies with complex management teams and organizational charts which can make people feel even more separated from that strong leadership. Because of this, as a leader, it can often seem like an uphill battle. But becoming a strong and credible leader is available to any individual, though it does take time and effort.
Most of us have had a coach, boss, principal, or a person in a similar role, at some point in our lives, so we already have an idea of what we expect from a reliable leader. Being a credible leader involves more than just a title and a large paycheck. It's not about the number of hats a leader wears or how much responsibility they take on, it's about the quality of leadership.
Becoming a credible leader starts with a moral merit system. It requires hard work. Sometimes those who have been elected or promoted by default become poor leaders because they didn’t earn their climb. But it's never too late for any leader to dig their hands in the dirt and stick their necks out for the people they believe in. This is how leaders cultivate relationships within their team, and in return, their team will learn to follow and trust them.
If you're reading this and wondering where you might lie on the leadership spectrum, ask yourself, Do I embody the qualities of leadership detailed below?
Credible leaders earn respect.
“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” —Albert Einstein
Being a leader means being someone who is dependable to the people around them. It's imperative that a boss creates a space where their employees feel safe and confident enough to confide personal information without fear of judgment or concerns that what they share will become potential gossip. In return, a credible leader also trusts in their employees, allowing them to be proactive in their success and having their back if needed.
Strong leaders own their mistakes. If you want to be a credible leader, you have to embody the qualities that you expect in your team. A major part of this is admitting when you're wrong. Would you rather have an employee who makes a mistake find someone else to blame or sweep the mistake under the rug, or would you rather have an employee who owns up to the mistake and instead focuses on how to learn from it? If you said the latter, as a leader, you must expect the same from yourself.
Leaders who are honest earn respect. Often times, people can tell when people are being dishonest, even if their conscious minds are not aware of it. This creates an underlying environment of distrust and fallacy. Whereas the opposite, being truthful and transparent, establishes honest relationships, which is humbling to employees.
Credible leaders listen.
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
Every manager or boss has detractors who cast doubt on their ability to lead or question their decisions. Rather than turn a deaf ear to the naysayers about their methods and ideas of management, credible leaders respectively listen to different opinions and consider all points of view. Strength of character is essential in leadership. As they say, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Great leaders create a space for their employees to feel secure and safe to give their honest feedback. Every single person in their world perceives the world solely in the way that they perceive it. We all have opportunities to grow and improve, and often times, those opportunities are much more visible to those around us. Being open to hearing this isn't always easy, but as a leader, it's necessary.
Credible leaders take risks.
"Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be." —Elizabeth Gilbert
Great leaders have faith in themselves to make changes and break the barriers of tradition. Even though every leader needs to consider and weigh options before making a decision, once they come to that decision, they stick to it. This confidence inspires others to execute their full potential and trust themselves in their own decisions.
Leaders who are willing to take risks earn respect. They don't run from tough decisions because they are afraid to fail in front of the people who follow them. In fact, even if a decision fails, just taking the risk can grow respect, because it shows that a person is willing to fight for what they believe in, even if others don't agree.
Credible leaders take care of their people.
“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” —Henry Kissinger
Great leaders don't separate themselves from their employees or consider themselves above the people they work with. Great leaders acknowledge that the road to success is much smoother when everyone feels that they play a necessary role in the success of the organization. The wins of the company are the wins of each individual, and vice versa!
There are many ways that bosses encourage their employees, such as offering incentives and giving positive feedback. And really, all types of encouragement are welcome. Great leaders, however, don't just encourage their employees for today, they have a focus on tomorrow. They appreciate when an employee does a job well done, but they also support them to grow and learn to trust in themselves on a greater level.
To put it simply, the best leaders support others in becoming great leaders themselves.
Jon Hauer is a freelance writer and digital designer originally from Minnesota now based in Del Rey, CA. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from the University of St. Thomas and graduated from Pepperdine University in 2015 with a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree in Writing. He has worked in the tourism/hospitality industry for years and writes professionally on a number of topics including travel, business, marketing, tourism, home services, art, sports, entertainment, news, etc.