In their research over the last 30 years, leadership experts James Kouzes and Barry Posner have found that credibility is the number one reason people follow a leader.

The Oxford English dictionary defines credibility as: “the quality of being trusted and believed in”.

Trust is something you need to earn, so how can you earn trust through your communication?

Be truthful

Be open, honest and authentic in your communication. There is no room for insincerity. Your team will see right through you and question your integrity

Be accountable

Keep your word. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If things go wrong or get delayed, accept responsibility and own the consequences. Accountability helps to earn trust.

Be generous with your expertise

Knowledge is another powerful driver of credibility. We tend to trust people that have the right answer or can provide insight and help us solve problems. You don’t have to be a know-it-all, but aim to be generous and use your knowledge, skills and experience to help others.

Be confident

Finally, demonstrate confidence and conviction…in yourself, in your ideas, in your ability as a leader and in the abilities of your team. Self-assurance is another key quality to have as a leader. I should be clear – it’s not about arrogance or being a show-off. It’s about having self-belief. If you don’t believe in yourself as a leader, it’s hard for others to believe in you.

But it’s not enough to merely have this belief. You need to make sure your confidence and conviction comes through in the way you communicate. Through your words, the way you talk, your actions and behaviours.

If you can:

  • convey confidence, without arrogance
  • share your knowledge, skills and experience to help others
  • stay accountable
  • and always be open, honest and authentic in your communication…

…then you will start to build a solid foundation of trust and credibility as a leader.