Principle : Leadership Credibility is built on Belief
Experts believe many things about what makes a leader and about what constitutes leadership ability. Research shows that leaders must have innate qualities such as intelligence, drive and stamina to be effective. It also shows that leaders must create a vision and take people to a new place or they will be believed to be managing but not leading. But effective leadership comes also from effective learning. Leaders must learn about business, about the dynamics of their industry, about themselves, and about their people.
Leadership credibility is all about what others believe about a leader. When it comes to leadership, credibility is in the eye of the follower. If you want people to follow you, you had better be sure that they believe in you. You had better be sure that they believe in your capability, your vision, and your right to lead. You cannot succeed simply by believing in yourself. Others must believe in you. You need to be credible in your own mind for sure, but you cannot only be credible in your own mind.
First and foremost, effective and credible leaders must be able to add value to the thinking of others. If they cannot, others will not believe that they are legitimate leaders. Credible leaders must be able to stay in control and to stay on top of events. They must be seen to have their act together. Those who they lead must believe that they are able to handle the job. Credible leaders must have a vision. They have a picture of the future upon which they stay relentlessly focused. Otherwise they will be seen to have no purpose. They will be seen to add no value.
Effective leaders must believe one thing about credibility. They must believe that there is no substitute for a track record of success when it comes to leadership. A candidate can be credible for a moment in a job interview as a result of their wit and ability to tell a story. Some can be credible for quite some time on the job for these same reasons. But over time, it is only performance that breeds credibility and respect for our leaders.
Leaders are Defined by Their Beliefs
Leaders vary widely in their values. Some are outgoing and some are shy. Some seek impact and some seek status. Some seek power and some seek control. And leaders differ in their beliefs about many things including their beliefs about what is necessary to be an effective leader. And their beliefs define their leadership style. Those who believe that staying in control is essential are likely to be seen to be in control and, on a bad day, to be controlling. Those who believe that exercising power is essential are likely to be seen to be in charge, and on a bad day, to be domineering.