Building an effective personal brand requires knowing your ‘why’, being clear on what you stand for, and understanding the value that you can provide. But it’s all well and good to have that clarity and strategy on paper. Effective leadership – whether as an entrepreneur or as a senior professional in a corporation – requires building credibility as a leader.
There are many models of effective leadership. You may have been taught, as I was, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. You may have been galvanised by Simon Sinek’s powerful mantra, Start with Why. Most likely – hopefully! – you are inspired by real-life leaders, whether on the world stage or in your immediate circle. And if you have enough experience, you might even have your own leadership model.
Whatever the model you live by, a key component has to be credibility in the eyes of your target audience, your would-be followers. Consider these 5 attributes of building credibility as a leader.
5 attributes of building credibility as a leader
1. Delivering results
It should go without saying, but the foundation of a credible leader is doing what you say you can do. You need to be able to deliver what you promise in order to have any chance of establishing credibility. As a new leader, or as an experienced leader in a new space, it can take time to get those results. It should be your primary focus.
Trust is a big part of credibility and honesty and transparency is required to build trust. You need to be open and upfront with your team members, your colleagues, your organisation, especially in a difficult situation. Trust that people understand and will act appropriately. Even a white lie, when uncovered, will be damaging and you will inevitably lose credibility.
3. Walking the talk
It’s not enough to say the right things. Effective leadership comes from leading by example and practising what you preach. You need to be a role model who people can look up to, respect, and learn from. This requires holding yourself accountable when you make mistakes. Be authentic, be human, be relatable – and in doing so, be an inspiration to the people watching.
Speaking of respect, good leaders also respect their peers, their team members – even their competitors. You may disagree with a prominent leader in your field and you should absolutely have your own unique perspective. But know that people are watching you closely and your behaviour will be scrutinised. Stay calm and don’t make it personal.
Behaving one way in one situation and then behaving differently in another is confusing and disconcerting. Especially in an environment rife with uncertainty, consistency provides reassuring predictability and helps build trust. This requires clarity on your goals and values as well as the discipline to follow through in each and every interaction.
Build your credibility as a leader
Effective leadership starts with self-awareness. A good place to start, however junior or senior you are, is to ‘audit’ your own credibility and identify the gaps. Can you demonstrate results? Are you open and honest? Are you an authentic role model? Do you behave respectfully in all your interactions? And are you consistently showing up as the leader you want to be?
Ask yourself where there are opportunities to get better, then choose where to focus to build and maintain credibility where needed.
And, if you’d like my help, then get in touch to discuss how we can work together to elevate your personal brand.