21 Ways To Credible Leadership (2021)

8 min read

In this guide, you’ll discover the importance of credible leadership – and how to become recognized as a credible leader.

In my role as a life coach, I am often helping clients learn how to effectively lead people in their personal and professional lives. 

That’s why I’m excited to share this guide with you. 

So, let’s dive in. 

Credible Leadership
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Why Should A Leader Be Credible?

Credibility creates trust and respect among your followers. These are two of the most important traits that make people want to follow you.

Why Is Credibility Important In Leadership?  

Yes, you can force people to follow you through authority alone, but when people willingly follow you, they go the extra mile.

That’s what creates employees who will run through brick walls for their leader. That’s what creates the morale that makes teams stick together and achieve incredible feats.

If you don’t have trust and respect, that’s what makes employees want to abandon ship. That’s what destroys morale. That’s what motivates employees to do the bear minimum to not get fired, while probably searching for another job on the side.  

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Leadership credibility can be the difference between these two extremes, which is why we’re focusing so deeply on how to be deemed as a credible and worthy leader in this article. 

Related content: What Does Leadership Mean To You – Best Answers

How Do You Build Leadership Credibility?

Here are 21 ideas to help you build personal credibility in the eyes of your followers. The more of these ideas you can demonstrate in your behavior, the easier you’ll find it to demonstrate effective leadership.

1. Honesty

Credible leadership begins with honesty. It’s a vital element of credibility. If you’re caught lying about even the most obscure thing, it can destroy trust.

2. Put Your People First

A leader is someone who acts in the best interests of their team members. If you’re seen to be doing that with consistent effort, it boosts personal credibility in the eyes of your followers. 

3. Only Ask Of Others What You’d Be Willing To Do Yourself

This is an honorable trait that earns respect among your followers. It’s a key reason why leaders who rose up the ranks in their business are highly respected.

4. Take The Risk First 

The definition of a leader is someone who goes first. If there’s a risky move that needs to be made, you should be willing to take that risk first.

5. Take The Blame

A great leader praises his team when things go well and takes the blame when his team messes up. If you’re the type of leader who throws others under the bus when something goes wrong, that’s a great way to lose credibility.

6. Transparency

The more transparent you are about your decisions and the reasons behind them, the more credibility you’ll build. If you’re keeping secrets or hiding certain aspects of your business, people understandably begin to lose trust in you.  

7. Don’t Avoid Difficult Questions

When you refuse to answer questions, this insinuates you have something to hide. This demonstrates low credibility and can destroy your ability to positively influence others.  

8. Make Tough Decisions

Make Tough Decisions
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When your team can trust you to face tough decisions without shirking responsibility, that boosts your leadership credibility. 

These decisions should be made for the benefit of the team as a whole, rather than themselves or a specific individual.

9. Have Difficult Conversations Behind Closed Doors

This is another example of not throwing team members under the bus. If they can trust you to only criticise them behind closed doors, this builds a sense of trust and respect among your followers. 

10. Encourage Open And Regular Feedback

Feedback from all employees and customers should be welcomed and acknowledged. This shows that the leader is interested in making decisions for the benefit of everyone, not just themselves.

11. Give Honest Feedback To Others 

There is a time and a place for boosting the confidence of under-performing workers, but there are also occasions when leaders shouldn’t mince their words about the competence of an employee or the quality of their work.

If leaders can’t be trusted to give honest feedback at the right time, it can harm their personal credibility.  

12. Be Consistent

If you’re behaving one way with certain employees, then differently with others, you’re unpredictable. Credible leaders are consistent with their decisions.  

13. Explain Your Decisions

When people understand the reasoning behind your decisions, it can help you build credibility, even if some disagree with you. 

It’s certainly better than making decisions because “I’m the boss and I say so”.

14. Understand Your Weaknesses And Delegate Effectively 

When a leader acknowledges his weaknesses and delegates certain roles in the organization to more accomplished people, this builds trust.

No-one can be expert in anything, and people understand that. This is why people can lose trust in leaders who try to do everything themselves.

Related Content: Integrated Leadership: Ideas To Be A Better Leader

15. Believe In Yourself!

As the head of an organization, you need to come across as confident when you talk about your actions, goals and values. In other words, you need to develop an expertise in public speaking. 

Ideally, every speech a leader gives will be a powerful message that captures the hearts and imaginations of their followers. 

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Without this ability, you’ll struggle to achieve the support you need in a leadership role. If you come across as unsure of yourself when addressing your organization publicly, it will be almost impossible to inspire others. 

16. Great Leaders Trust First

A great way to build trust is to trust others first. In order to build a successful organization, a leader will need to learn how to do this.   

17. Great Leaders Embodies Company Values

A credible leader will lead with his behavior. Your own personal values should mirror what you expect from your organization. 

Do not underestimate the importance of this. It’ll be tough to encourage others to be punctual if you’re always late. It’ll be impossible to inspire passion in their work if you don’t appear to care about the company mission.

18. Be Generous With Recognition

Be Generous
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Can your people trust you to recognize great work and give credit where credit’s due? This helps to build team spirit and boosts your leadership credibility. It promotes respect across your whole organization. 

Related Content: Achievement Oriented Leadership – A Complete Guide

19. People First, Numbers Second

People-first leaders inspire their followers, because they can see their leader is committed to helping them. However, you’ll need to prove that you’re willing to put your people ahead of financial success.

Are you motivated primarily by money or the happiness of your people? Are you willing to forsake your own annual bonus to keep the business from making redundancies? Are you willing to spend a little extra on purchases that boost team spirit?

When you show you’re a people-first leader, this inspires your team to deliver results for you. At this point, financial success often takes care of itself. 

Related content: Best Executive Leadership Coaching Online

20. Get To Know Your People

If you want to come across as a leader who cares about his followers, take the time to get to know them. Talk to them about their personal hopes and dreams. Discuss how you can help to lead them there.  

21. Credible Leaders Have Their Team’s Back

Want to know why military servicemen would take a bullet for their leader? It’s because they know he would do the same for them.

While you may not need to sacrifice your life for anyone in your organization, you’ll still want to come across as a manager who would take a metaphorical bullet for his people in this uncertain world.

This is one of the most powerful ways to build high credibility and inspire people to willingly follow you. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Credible Leadership

I’d like to close off the article with the answers to some frequently asked questions about credibility in leadership roles. 

What Is The Credibility Factor In Leadership?

Credibility inspires people to willingly follow someone, because they trust and respect them.

What Are The Four Traits That Make A Credible Leader?

There is plenty of research that has been done to find the most important leadership traits. Many of these studies have been diluted into punchy articles about the four pillars of credible leadership.

However, these articles all seem to highlight different leadership qualities, most of which have already been mentioned above.

Honesty, decisiveness, vision, integrity, courage, empathy, passion and authenticity are among the traits listed in these articles. The importance of these traits should never be downplayed. Every quality is crucial in a leadership role. 

So, it’s fair to conclude there are more than four traits needed to demonstrate high credibility as a leader.  

Integrity And Credibility In Leadership

Integrity and credibility feed into each other whenever you’re in a leadership role. Integrity means having strong and honest personal values, which is key to building personal credibility.  

Credible Leaders Examples

A great way to understand what credible leadership looks like is to look at an example of credible leaders from history.

Credible Leaders In History

  • Winston Churchill. Churchill led Great Britain to unite with various allies to defeat Nazi Germany during World War II. He was well-known for his bravery, determination, perseverance and his ability to raise national spirits during a time of mass fear and destruction. 
  • Nelson Mandela. Mandela was the leader of anti-apartheid movements in South Africa, serving a lengthy prison sentence as a result of this. Nevertheless, he remained devoted to this mission that ultimately made the world a better place.  
  • George Washington. Washington was the leader of the American Revolution and the first president of the United States. His success was down to his incredible foresight, organization and leadership skills.
  • Abraham Lincoln was the U.S president who kept the nation as one during the American Civil War. On top of that, he ended slavery in the United States by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. He was most well-known for his bravery, determination, persistence and self-belief.
  • Mahatma Gandhi led India to freedom against colonial rule in 1947. He was most well-known for his policy of non-violent protest, resilience, forward-looking attitude and incredible people skills.

I’d urge anyone with an interest in leadership to research the life stories of these remarkable individuals. 

Why Is Credibility Important In The Workplace?

Employees are more inspired to work hard for a manager that has credibility. When a manager has low credibility, employees don’t trust that they have their best interests at heart. This can destroy employee morale, which can lead to lower output and lower staff retention.

Why Is Credibility Important In Business?

Credibility creates trust, and most people are extremely hesitant to do business with anyone they don’t trust.

How Can I Learn To Improve My Leadership Skills?

Many senior leaders choose to invest in leadership coaching, with individuals who have invested years into gaining knowledge on what it takes to successfully lead an organization. Some organizations may even cover the cost of this form of personal development for you. To learn more, see this guide on What is Leadership Development Coaching?

How Can I Get Promoted Into A Leadership Position?

You don’t have to wait for a promotion to start building leadership credibility. Develop and show the ability to inspire your team members now

Eventually, the higher-ups will notice the influence you have on others and have no choice but to decide you’re worthy of an official leadership position.  

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Any More Questions About Being A Credible Leader? 

Thanks for reading my guide on leadership credibility. Hopefully, it now makes sense why this trait is critical to success in any leadership role.

If you’d like to discuss personal credibility or any other leadership characteristic further, feel free to leave a comment below.

It would be great to hear from you.

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