This week I want to lift some content out of my book I See You: to lead well you need credibility. Whilst you will judge a leader’s credibility by what they do and say, the leader’s credibility starts as an inside job. As John C. Maxwell says:
“People unaware of who they are and what they do often damage relationships with others.”
A key component of a leader’s credibility is their character. You can rise above the rest simply by being a great version of yourself. Character is what sets the great leaders apart from the rest. What do those you lead and your peers say about your character?
Character is who we are when no-one else is looking. These are issues of integrity – does who you say you are match up with the way you live out your life? This quote puts it well:
“Sow a thought, reap an act, sow an act, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny.” Author Unknown
Character is what goes on inside. The heart issues. What are the values that you hold that guide you in your interactions with others; that govern your decision making; that keep you straight when temptation comes your way?
7 Character traits that will build your credibility:
1. Integrity – at its root the word means whole or complete. As it applies to a human being it means that a person is the same on the inside as they are outside; that what they say lines up with what they do.
2. Honesty – is about being straight with people, telling the truth. As leaders we can make promises that we know are unlikely to be kept. Not because we don’t want to, but because it was unrealistic to make it. It’s better to be straight about timescales, expectations, and mistakes made.
3. Humility – acting out of humility means that there is more “we” than “me” in your view of the world. You are less concerned about personal credit – it’s about a win for the team. Humility seems to help build great companies.
Jim Collins as quoted by Stephen M.R. Covey said:
“We were surprised, shocked really, to discover the type of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one. Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders seem to have come from Mars. Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy – these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar.”
4. Your values/beliefs – these may be things like the golden rule. It could be fairness, or treating people equally, valuing people, being just, looking to grow and develop yourself and others. These will be your guiding principles. For me, as someone who believes in the Christian faith or for others who choose to follow a different faith, then those values and beliefs will be a lens through which we see the world.
5. Attitude – this is crucial. Many great ideas can be left un-attempted because the prevailing attitude is that it can’t be done. It is amazing how much more can be done by adopting a can-do attitude. It does mean staying open to the opportunities and being willing to take the risks associated in testing them out.
6. Lifelong Learning – good leaders are curious people. As Einstein said: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Good as you may be, there are always ways in which we can improve ourselves or the ways things are done. As our understanding of the brain and the mind advances it would seem that our capacity for learning keeps up with our curiosity to know more.
7. Trustworthy – a characteristic which is hard to earn and easy to lose is trust or being trustworthy. It is difficult to over emphasise the importance of trust in terms of how well a team can function. It is critical. In next week’s blog I want to take more time on this characteristic as it is key to unlocking team potential.
Taking a look inside requires courage, but the returns are well worth the effort. To see what else builds a leader’s credibility you can get hold of my book here.
Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash