How To Establish Credibility As A Leader

There’s nothing more valuable when you’re leading than establishing credibility. Credibility is establishing trust and being believable. Can you see why a leader needs to establish credibility to lead well?

There was once a time when a man’s handshake was his contract. It seems those days are long gone.

Yet you can help bring back those days. You can be a man, or woman, who has credibility.

Credibility is vital in leadership. It’s hard to gain and easy to lose. This is why great leaders are constantly building their credibility.

How are they doing this, you ask? They take the hard road and credible leaders make sure they’re upholding their own standards.

Here’s what else you can do to establish credibility:

Follow through with your promises: Great leaders build their credibility by keeping their word. When they say they’re going to do it, they do it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Their word is their bond.

Following through is one of the fastest ways to build your credibility. You’re showing others that you’re going to keep your promises and go the distance.

Deliver and then over-deliver: Every leader needs to deliver on their objectives. This means making sure your job is done, your team is functioning properly, and that goals are met. This is just the beginning.

Once you’ve delivered, start over-delivering. Go the extra mile. Create the best presentation you can. Develop a great training program to run your team through. Give your best.

As you over-deliver, people will begin to take notice. They’ll know your work is topnotch and can’t be beat. Give yourself a great name to live up to.

Keep private matters private: You’re in a position of trust. There will be times when your team members or followers will approach you with sensitive and private issues. It’s your job to keep private matters private.

Don’t go and share the juicy details with anyone. Keep them to yourself (unless there’s threats of violence, self-harm, etc.). Show others you’re worthy of the trust you’re seeking.

Be a person of conviction: Your leadership will face tribulations and testings. You’ll be tempted to waver and take the easy road.

When you’re faced with these situations, remember you’re a person of conviction. You know what is right and what is wrong. Don’t cave to the pressures.

Instead, stand by your convictions and live them out. Those watching you will take notice and realize you’re not one to be swayed by popular opinion or pressure.

It’s up to you whether or not you’ll have credibility as a leader. I’ve laid out 4 simple ways you can establish your credibility. There’s plenty more out there.

Just know that your credibility is worth more than gold as you lead. The trust of those you lead depend upon it.

Question: How are you building credibility as a leader? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Powerful post. I learned to be careful what I promise. I’m kind of a people pleaser that has a tendency to go with the flow and have gotten into trouble over-promising.

    My motto for my cleaning business is: reliable and trustworthy. Those two words help to remind me in business how I need to treat my customers. It worked so well that I decided to use it in my personal life (sounds funny to say, haha), but it is more challenging and rewarding as I grow using it. I’m learning to say, ‘no’.

    This is a vital list that is at the core of integrity. Thanks Joseph!

    • Thanks Sutton. Your slogan is spot on for how we should lead. If we’re able to establish our reliability and trustworthiness, it’s worth gold.

  • In running a small business I find that it’s not just about delivering, but delivering on-time. “Tell them what you are going to do, then do it when you say you will do it.” People don’t want to pay for the privilege of wondering if you will have their product to them on-time.

    • Charles, excellent point! We can’t just deliver, we’ve got to deliver on or before the deadline.

  • By spending time with my team members, I am showing them that I care enough to listen. It’s easy move from one meeting to another to another without stopping to listen to those on my team. I have been conducting regular one-on-one meetings with each of my direct reports for the past several months, and it has made a real difference in their overall attitude, their performance, and in my awareness. There is definitely a sense that credibility is forming.

    • Jon, that is awesome. When people know you care, they’re more willing to work with you.

  • DS

    4 great points that anyone can begin doing today if they’re not already. Sometimes common sense, isn’t so common (cliche’ I know). Being present/available to your team is a way you can help establish credibility. If you’re never around what are you communicating?

    • While that saying is cliche, it’s true. Seems we’ve lost a lot of the common sense of old.

      • DS

        Most of us know what we should be doing – we’re just not doing it. Do the good you ought to do. Do the next right thing.

  • Carol Peterson

    These are spot on. I’ve just taken on a leadership role in a Christian group and found myself saying, “yes, I’ll get that done; you’ll have it this week.” Later when I sat down I wondered how I’d get it done in a week; but since I’d promised, I found a way.

    I’m reminded of Star Trek Deep Space Nine when the heads of the greedy Ferengi were meeting. They decided that “our word will be our bond…until we decide to break it.” Funny when it’s not about ethical leadership…

    Great post.

    • That’s a great line to drive home the point Carol. Too many leaders are like the Ferengi and not about keeping their word.

    • I just want to give two thumbs up to the Deep Space 9 reference. :0)

  • Credibility is so important, especially when we’re in a day and age when leaders loss credibility by doing things that they think won’t come to light and they always do. People are hesitant these days to trust and that’s why it’s so important to be honest and real as a leader.

    • Right on Kimanzi. With the way technology works, so much of what we do is recorded and can come to light in so many different ways.

  • One of the few things that will stand and speak for us is our reputation as leaders. It’s the last memories we have of our x-bosses and great leaders that have passed away.

    Credibility leads to power, authority, and influence. Either it paves the way or blocks it for us.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed reading it Josue.

  • Following through is super-important. No one likes to be disappointed. No one.

    This is especially important when dealing with children. Breaking a fragile young heart is horrible.

    Parents, teachers, and relative of children should refrain from “promising” things that they cannot deliver. Saying “maybe” doesn’t even make it better; appeasing them with “maybes” may seem like the “okay thing to do”, but it’s really not.

    Disappointment is a horrible thing for a child to experience, so please follow through if you make a promise!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lorraine! I think this disappointment isn’t just for children but for adults as well. Like you said, no one likes to be disappointed.

      What are some ideas to use instead of promising something or saying maybe?

      • Giving the recipient undivided attention, talking about and highlighting important past actions and accomplishments, and doing something that is perhaps not so “demanding” are all great ways of empowering the recipient (of any age) and making him/her feel valued and loved.

  • I have a quote on my corkboard that reads “Character>Reputation”
    So if you have to choose, choose character. After all, we know that not all reputations are true, but given time your reputation will come to match your character. Sometimes you just have to hang in there a bit longer.

    • Character is the sum of many underlying traits that are needed to achieve credibility. I like your quote. Good character will breed a good reputation.

    • That is a great quote Jonathan. Character tends to stand forever while reputation can change and shift but is also defined by your character. It’s important to have the foundation (character) established first.

  • We must be consistently credible. Credibility is a hard asset to create, but it can crumble in a flash if we’re not consistent with our character, integrity, and habits.

    • The best leaders I’ve had have been consistently credible…couldn’t agree more!

    • Right on Sean. While I’m not sure it’s a hard asset to create, it’s one many people aren’t willing to work at. It doesn’t take much to be credible, just doing what needs to be done and doing what you’ve said you’d do.

  • Gossip is a credibility killer…glad you included that a credible leader doesn’t share details others don’t need to know.

    • Thanks Tom. I find too many young leaders aren’t caring about this aspect of leadership. Instead, they spout anything and everything they hear. And then wonder why no one is taking them seriously or trusting them.

  • Charly Priest

    I believe credibility applies to all facets of life, relationships with your partner or friends,your boss or employees. Very true it´s hard to gain and easy to loose. Keep the secrets will apply to those instances if you don´t want to loose credibility or loose friends and jobs. Being a man of conviction it´s also very hard, and I believe is something that has to be build into your character since an early age, you can´t learn it, your either are or not. Being a man of conviction can bring you respect and at the same time a bunch of enemies. I actually got fired from a job, because my moral compass didn´t agree with what my boss was telling me to do, which was practically a legal scheme to charge our clients more, so out I went through the door.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Charly. Sorry to hear about being fired but I’m sure you’re much happier away from the toxic environment.

  • Lovely article on credibility. I must say if one is not able to put in 100 percent and over plus he is not able to stick to the commitments that he has promised then definitely he is not a good leader.

  • Love this Joe! First and foremost–and you called it out of the gate–don’t be flaky! No one follows a flaky leader!

    • Thanks Jim. I think flaky leaders are one of the worst. You know you’ll never get where you need to with them.

  • Naveed Anjum

    Credibility is more about trust with others. Consistency, clarity with results will make us credible.

    • Naveed, that’s exactly what will build trust.