I just heard another politician say the sentence:
“Precisely in the current crisis, we are compelled to communicate credibility.”
What hogwash. You are not compelled to communicate credibility. You are compelled to be credible!
Upon closer inspection, this politician is not saying: “We are compelled to communicate our credibility”, but rather he said: “We are compelled to communicate credibility” – meaning any credibility will do.
That’s just great. By leaving out the word “our”, he reveals more about his real intentions: He only wants to appear credible. Therein lies the problem. To be credible, politicians would have to take clear-cut positions, they would need to honor their promises, and act rigorously. Instead, I am forming the impression that many think and act according to Ben Franklin’s motto:
“Half a truth is often a great lie”.
Trust within the company
I can observe similar events in some companies. The Managing Director asks the employees to trust him during a crisis. What does this mean? He wants his employees to trust his statements and his future actions. He needs his employees to believe that what he is saying now will be what he does later on. The employees will do this only if he has demonstrated that he was credible in the past.
At what point are you credible as a Managing Director?
You earn your credibility each and every day. You are credible when you exhibit clear-cut beliefs, and also back these up. You must walk the talk 100% of the time. If you make a mistake, you must also take ownership of your mistakes, and in the worst case, you may have to live with the potentially painful consequences. You must display integrity, and be predictable, to not be perceived as a candle in the wind.
Stick to your promises – always!
If you make a commitment, then you must perform! Not only with big issues, but particularly with the little one’s as well. When you tell your employee that you will forward him the report by e-mail today – he must receive the report today, and not tomorrow. You did after all make that commitment. This is your word of honor, which you gave!
You will quickly loose your credibility if you fail to honor expectations. Avoid this at all costs. Make no promises that you cannot, or do not wish to keep! Developing trust takes time. You can loose trust in a matter of seconds!
Do not hide behind uncomfortable messages!
Do not hesitate when bad news, such as layoffs or reductions in pay need to be communicated. Speak clearly and openly about the unavoidable. Truthfulness, clarity and speed will be rewarded.
Alfred Herrhausen, former CEO of Deutsche Bank, has pointedly summarized the topic of credibility with the following sentence:
“Our duty is to say what we think, to do what we say, and to be what we do.”
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