Fact: Getting a leadership position is easier than keeping it. Keeping a position of leadership is about one thing, and one thing only; your credibility as a leader – your ability to lead well. Leaders either have credibility or they don’t… Do you?
People arrive at a position of leadership in many different ways. Some individuals openly and aggressively seek out positions of leadership, while leadership is thrust upon others. Regardless of the leadership path traveled, not everyone is ready, willing or able to lead. Not everyone in a position of leadership is a leader.
Whether leaders are elected, appointed, anointed, or self-proclaimed, and regardless of whether it is by design or default, once in a position of leadership they nonetheless carry the burden and responsibilities associated with being a leader. They must lead well, and in order to lead well they must be credible.
Leadership absent credibility is at best ineffective. However the more likely reality is that when leadership truly lacks credulity it is dangerously toxic. Left unchecked, it is a contagion capable of bringing demise upon individuals, teams, and entire organizations.
Following are the five dead giveaways your credibility is as risk:
- You Don’t Live In The Real World: You cannot lead without being engaged and aware. Isolation is one of the great enemies of leadership, assailing credibility at every turn. Sequestered leaders develop a narrow world view and begin to limit options. Leaders who start to believe their own smoke, become emotionally over-invested in the wrong things, and who are more concerned about being right than achieving the right outcome, place their credibility is at risk. Passion without perspective and/or reason can actually serve to distort one’s perception of reality. These distorted perceptions can quickly place a leader on a very slippery slope blurring the lines between fact and fiction – very dangerous territory for any leader. Have you ever known someone who wanted something to be true so badly that they started to adopt positions and manufacture circumstances to support their own false reality? Just because you can convince yourself (or others) that your position is correct, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is… Bottom line: if you lose perspective you lose credibility.
- You Don’t Listen: The fastest way to erode credibility is to live in a bubble – to fail to listen to those who can make you better. Being a leader does not make you omniscient, but it should give you the wisdom to seek sound advice and counsel. Credible leaders don’t selectively listen – their listening switch is always flipped on. They listen not just to a small inner circle, but they listen to those that confront, challenge, stretch, and develop them. True wisdom doesn’t see opposition, it sees only opportunity, and opportunity is best gained by a heightened sense of awareness that comes from wide-ranging and intelligent listening. Remember this: the rigidity of a closed mind is the first step in limiting opportunity.
- You Treat People Poorly: If you want to watch your credibility go up in smoke, it’s not that hard to do – just be a jerk. A leader’s first obligation is to those they lead. As a leader you are nothing more, or less, than what you model. If you don’t build into and support those you lead, what makes you think they’ll behave any differently toward others, or toward you? But for the people, there is no platform, no products, no services, no culture and no company. Without the people you have nothing to lead. When you place things (systems, methodologies, processes, etc.) above the people you lead, you have failed as a leader.
- You’re Not Accountable: Almost nothing impugns the credibility of leader faster than attempting to dodge an issue rather than deal with it. I’ve often said, “leaders not accountable to their people will be held accountable by their people. We have too many people in leadership positions who can’t or won’t accept responsibility for anything. Put simply, leadership is about accountability, not blame-shifting. Leadership IS ownership. Accepting responsibility for your actions, or the actions of your team makes you honorable, and trustworthy – it also humanizes you. People don’t want the talking head of a politician for a leader, they want someone they can connect to, and relate with. They not only want someone they trust, but someone who trusts them as well.
- You Don’t Perform: Nothing smacks of poor credibility like a lack of performance. Nobody’s perfect, but leaders who consistently fail are not leaders, no matter how much you wish they were. I have always believed that you are what your track record says you areunless you prove otherwise, in which case, we’re back to my initial point. Real leaders perform, they get the job done, and they consistently exceed expectations. No results equals no leadership –it’s just that simple.
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This article originally appeared at http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2015/11/08/5-dead-giveaways-youre-not-a-credible-leader/#3e6ad6ad6ac3