Credibility derives from the Latin verb credo, which means I believe. Our believability — or our credibility — rests in the eyes of others. It is their having faith that we will behave and speak and act in ways that adhere to the values we profess and thereby the expectations we create.
But what about those occasions when we consciously choose to ignore our principles and “make an exception to the rule”? Whether for expediency’s sake or for our own gain, believing that the ends justify the means can result in giving others reason to pause, wonder or doubt that we are who we claim to be. If our adherence to guiding principles is the bedrock of our credibility, then shedding those values — regardless of the reason — is a blow that can fracture the foundation that others rely on when choosing whether to believe, trust, join or follow us. At its most damaging, a pattern of making an exception to the rule gives others cause to say to themselves non credo — I do not believe.
Consider the employer, the manager or the team leader who claims to highly value the principle of work–life balance, but who regularly texts or emails queries after hours, over the weekend or during vacation time, and expects a timely response. What message is this individual really giving about what she or he is committed to? What happens to their credibility vis-à-vis their professed principle of work–life balance?
Assess the current state of your credibility by answering two critical questions:
- What are the promises I make about how I will conduct myself, both in private and out in the world?
- How consistently do I live up to each one of these promises — to myself and to others?
Excerpted and abridged from The Citizen Leader