Credibility separates a boss from a leader. If your team knows you’ll “go to war” for them, they will place their confidence in you and the organization.
But it’s not easy to build that type of credibility. Simply being the boss isn’t enough to earn the hearts and minds of your staff, especially in today’s highly mobile workforce. That’s why it’s so important to dedicate yourself to constant improvement and to being the kind of leader that earns the respect and loyalty from those around you.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the core competencies that you should invest in to fulfill your leadership potential.
When you give respect to the people around you, they will give it in turn. It sounds so simple, and yet many managers struggle with this very fundamental act.
People won’t respect you just because you are in charge. They might look to you for guidance, but true respect is earned by using the power you’ve been given responsibly, with the needs of your team in mind. When you do this, people will trust your motivations. Fail to do so and they’ll always question your actions.
You are not just “in charge”. You represent your team, and they look to you for guidance and leadership in the face of adversity. When something bad happens, they need to know your first priority is their wellbeing.
They also need to trust that you will take responsibility and work towards a solution, rather than blame someone else or walk away from the problem.
Along the same lines, a manager is more than an individual contributor. You are responsible for yourself and for the people who report to you.
If you make a mistake, own it immediately and take steps to fix it. Don’t dwell, look for ways to cast blame, or ignore it as “someone else’s” to deal with. Your team is an extension of your leadership and mistakes are a shared burden.
Keep Learning at all Times
A credible leader needs to be not just competent, but well ahead of the curve. Your team will look to you for insights on new ideas, new concepts, and new trends.
The most successful leaders never stop learning. That thirst for knowledge helps you build and maintain a level of expertise that your team can turn to when they have questions or concerns.
Be a Trustworthy Expert
Management is about successful delegation, but don’t miss opportunities to show that you still have the spark that earned you your promotion. A credible leader is someone that other people know they can turn to with intractable problems they can’t solve.
You are a resource they rely on to tackle the toughest challenges. If your knowledge lapses behind, or if you don’t practice your craft often enough to remain competent in the case of an all-hands emergency, it’s difficult to remain credible.
Show, don’t tell. Don’t be afraid to jump in and show your skills. When there’s a real problem or a sudden increase in demand, help them achieve their goals.
You don’t just lead the team; you are an important part of it. Their success is your success – show them what this means and that you really care.
Set and Communicate Clear Goals
Every good leader needs a set of goals that they’re working towards at all times. More importantly, a credible leader will work hard to clearly communicate those goals to everyone around them.
You should make the goal setting and tracking process a team activity. By involving your team in the process, you give them partial ownership over the goals you’re working to achieve.
Invest in Yourself to Build Trust with Your Team
Good leaders must convey a clear, concise message, be compassionate, and hold themselves accountable for what happens under their control. Everyone has an ego, but great leaders are able to put theirs aside to build someone else up.
If you can invest in yourself to constantly learn new things, take action and be hands on whenever necessary, and be accountable for your actions as well as those of your team, you’ll build credibility and trust to get you through even the hardest of times.