As an executive recruiter I often hear that Leadership skills are a requirement for an open position, in fact this word Leadership is something you hear about every day; on the internet, in the news in everyday conversations almost in an ethereal context. What is leadership? If you ask ten people what leadership means to them you may get ten different answers! In fact in our firm’s research on why so many companies hire “Misfits” we found that Leadership skills cannot be quantified…. We GDITAP do however use composites of various personal qualities and behavioral characteristics that indicate leadership skills in our candidates. Still, I find myself wondering about this mysterious Leadership, why some people have it, some do not.  Everyone wants to have it! Or do we?

My quest to discover perhaps a Leadership genome continues but I have heard common denominators (note the plural) from the Leaders that I have interviewed. Many of the words and phrases heard can be catalogued under “Credibility”.

The foundation of leadership is trust and the vital element of trust is credibility.  Credibility is something that all leaders must have… it is not just “nice” to have.  Credibility, defined as 1. The quality of being trusted and believed in 2. The quality of being convincing or believable is the key that opens the door to leadership and it grows exponentially when others know they can count on you because your words match your actions.

Credibility does not happen overnight however, it takes time, effort, and patience.  Credibility is not just competency in your field but having respect for others, honesty, accountability, loyalty, genuinely caring about people and being supportive.

Be Competent in your field – stay ahead of the advances in your field. Be a continual learner.

Be Honest – truthfulness breeds a strong confidence between leader and employee while untruthfulness undermines the relationship. Also do not withhold information as this will be seen as untruthful. How can you expect employees to be honest with you if you are not honest with them?

Be respectful and humble – show loyalty and support, show confidence in the ability of your people and delegate accordingly.  Genuinely care about people.

Be consistent and accountable.  Trust is best built through personal contact and effective interpersonal communication.

Be responsive – provide clarity and act now therefore showing commitment to your decision. Practice active listening.

Remember that Credibility is determined by the constituents not you!

If you want to be a Leader a highly dependable source of expertise, information and decision making focus on being credible now.  Walk the talk, deliver what you have promised and create win-win situations for all, you will be rewarded with trust, respect and a loyal more engaged and committed team.

Author: Maggie Watson, GDI Talent Acquisition Practice