Leadership Is… Building Credibility

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It may be arguable that one’s character is in direct correlation to one’s credibility. Indeed the perception of a leader’s character may help others determine how much credibility they afford the leader. The strength or weakness of this perception is continually assessed and can be altered over a length of time. Therefore, a leader’s credibility is individualized to the specific relationship experience, as well as malleable and likely ever-changing over any period of time.

Ask Yourself The Tough Questions

John Maxwell (2018) presented a position that leaders are served well by maintaining awareness of their own character through consistently keeping watch of their own traits. He considers questions such as “Do I feel superior to those who work for me?” or “Do I put my own success ahead of the success of others?” as ways to keep ourselves in check when it comes to assessing the health of one’s leadership character.

Focus Areas For The Leader’s Character

Maxwell (2018) provides three primary areas for leaders to focus upon their character:

a) Good Character Builds Strong Trust;

b) Successful Leaders Embrace the Four Dimensions of Character – Authenticity, Self-Management, Humility, and Courage;

c) Character Makes You Bigger on the Inside Than on the Outside.
In all of this, a leader needs to have a desire to grow and be better. A position of leadership is best served when the considerations of others are placed above the cares of self.

While narrowing a focus to twenty attributes of traits that people admire in leaders, Kouzes & Posner (2017) found four specific traits that have remained consistently strong: a) Honesty; b) Competency; c) Inspirational; and d) Forward-Looking. It is within these traits where a recipe for credibility can be found. Followers, and even other leaders, ascribe credibility to leaders who are true in their word; who demonstrate knowledge, skill, and abilities at an appropriate level; who help to connect them to vision; and who are able to forecast the challenges and possibilities in a way that helps guide today’s efforts on the way to tomorrow’s successes.

Continual Improvement… Starting With Credibility

In considering these contributions from Maxwell (2018) and Kouzes & Posner (2017), it is recognized that a leader’s work on oneself is never done. Without constant assessment, a reasonable understanding of desired traits, and an honest desire to continuously adapt and improve upon their character and credibility, a leader may jeopardize their relationships and, therefore, their ability to lead others effectively. Perrin Moore (2000) tells us that “The transactional (old style) leader focuses on the short-term goals and stability, offering rewards for performance. The transformational (new style) leader articulates a vision of the firm that can be shared by peers and subordinates, and prefers effectiveness over efficiency.”

A vision of the organization that does not build upon the solid characteristics of its leader will struggle with credibility among staff, suppliers, customers/clientele, and other stakeholders. Credibility is a valuable asset to leaders, one that calls out for consistent maintenance and protection.

Are you looking for a fresh perspective on your leadership approach and credibility? Contact the team at Achieve Onward to set up a leadership coaching session.


Kouzes, J., & Posner, B. (2017). The Leadership Challenge (6th ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Maxwell, J. C. (2018). Developing the Leader Within You 2.0. HarperCollins

Perrin Moore, D. (2000). Careerpreneurs: Lessons From Leading Women Entrepreneurs on Building a Career Without Boundaries. Davies-Black

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