When I think about credibility, I think about trust as the two go hand-in-hand and it’s something that I’ve always held in high regard in my personal and professional life. When the team at Roots Inspire asked me to talk about building credibility in the workplace, I readily agreed as I believe this is one of the key elements of strong leadership. Building trust and credibility is of course a continuous journey. One of the mentors at the start of my career was a role model for authentic leadership. He would go out of his way to genuinely connect with people, be open and honest and most importantly he wasn’t afraid to take the risk to be different. Having a role model who inspired trust, enabled me to see the value of authenticity and credibility.
So, what does credibility mean to me? For me, it’s about being true to what you believe in and holding yourself accountable to that standard. This enables you to inspire confidence, influence and gain trust. I would focus on three key areas when looking at building credibility:
Keeping promises and delivering what you said you would
Irrespective of whether you are just starting out in your first role or you have multiple years of experience across companies, delivering what you promised would always put you on the right path.
This could be something as simple as a commitment to get back to someone, a deadline to meet or a more complex project delivery you agreed to take on.
This doesn’t mean you have to agree to deliver everything that is sent your way, but rather it’s about taking accountability for things you control, following through and going the extra mile for it because you gave your word.
It’s about making sure that what you are delivering actually contributes to your organisation’s purpose and direction.
TIP: Reach out and ask for help. Are there others that have implemented a best practice you can learn from? Then, copy with pride, collaborate and learn from others. Your perceived competence isn’t linked to you being the expert of everything or in doing it all alone.
Your opinion matters – so share it!
Another way to build credibility and trust is to have a view, a voice, and an opinion. What do you stand for? What are you passionate about? To quote Simon Sinek – What is your why?
When you share what you truly believe in and be honest with your views, your authenticity shines through. This does not mean you can’t change your view or be open to new ideas and inputs, it just means that as you grow and change, your perspective can, too. Sharing your authentic views also means that you need to be open to actively listening to another person’s view. It’s a two-way street including the courage to say “I don’t know”.
So from a practical point of view on a regular working day: If you sat through a meeting, did you listen actively? What resonated with you? What could be better, and most importantly, how will you contribute or support?
TIP: Sometimes it can be difficult to articulate your views or put them forward in a communication style that is adaptable to the audience, but still voice it anyway. Practice makes perfect!
Showing mutual respect and assuming positive intent in your interactions is a great way to build trust. Can you look beyond yourself and help a colleague succeed? Finally, It’s OK to take risks, let your guard down and be vulnerable. I think working from home during the pandemic has made us all a bit more open in this area and it’s now normal to be in a Microsoft Teams call talking about interesting projects while admiring your colleague’s cat!
TIP: Not everything in your professional life needs to be formal, showing your personality and vulnerability goes a longer way than you may think.
About the Author
Nithya Mahesh is currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and is HR Director for Marine, Protective and Yacht Coatings at AkzoNobel. She has over 15 years of experience in Human Resources and has previously worked in ING Bank and EY. Her favourite quote is “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney