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Guide HR: How to become a credible leader

Credibility is priceless when you need to influence your partners, advisers, employees, or anyone else around you. But what makes you credible? And why are some people perceived as credible while others aren’t?

More importantly, can you grow your credibility? If so, how?

It’s a critical issue, because even if you have all the skills, knowledge and education you need in order to make your case, without credibility, you won’t be able to get support from others for your ideas and projects.

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Credibility is the feeling of trust and respect you inspire in others. It means people see you as dependable, trustworthy and influential.

It isn’t something you get just because you’re the boss, yet credibility is a crucial asset for being heard and respected so you can position yourself as a leader. Without it, you will not exert any real influence.

Make yourself more credible

While we are not always aware of the cues that lead us to trust and respect others, we are constantly analyzing them with our subjective “lens of credibility.”

The people you work with are making the same judgments about you, using these 12 factors.

  1. Expertise. Do you know the subject you are talking about? If you do not know, say so. People will appreciate your honesty and humility. Prove what you are asserting, and check your sources before doing so. Avoid saying, “It looks like/seems that,” and don’t act like a know-it-all.
  2. Experience. The more people perceive you as someone with experience, the greater your credibility. Demonstrate your experience.
  3. Confidence. Do you seem confident, or do you hesitate? Watch your non-verbal language, posture and handshake. Stand up straight and smile. Know your own assets! However, don’t be arrogant — stay humble.
  4. Knowledge. Do you stay up-to-date in your field? Develop your skills. Pay attention to new trends. Continue your professional development. Become someone to whom people turn for information.
  5. Fairness. Do not give preferential treatment. Do the right things for the right reasons.
  6. Respect. Can you get interested in others’ stories, needs and realities? Do you share your successes? Do you give other people credit when it’s due? Cultivate respect because it is synonymous with consideration and courtesy. Above all, respect attracts respect. Listen respectfully to others.
  7. Consistency. Are your words consistent, or do you contradict yourself soon afterwards? Be consistent. Do what you say you will! Do not constantly change your mind. Think carefully about the choices you make. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  8. Similarity. How much are you like your audience? Rely on your similarities, not your differences.
  9. Positivity. Hit a positive note. People want to hear a positive speaker, not a victim of life.
  10. Affirmative. Use affirmative language.
  11. Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious. Others want to catch it, too. Set your personal problems aside. People have enough trouble of their own.
  12. Energy. Action creates its own desire to do something. We want to follow people of action, so if you say you will do something, act. Set an example for others.

Through all 12 of these considerations, however, also learn how to manage your emotions. Stay in control. Do not give in to anger, and do not allow yourself any lapses in behaviour or language, even in the worst situations.

Credibility starts in our daily lives. It is based on strong character and on our core values. People with credibility know what is important. They stand up for what they believe in, even when they will be unpopular or criticized.

Credibility is based on beliefs, emotions, and actions. When these are aligned and clear to the leader, they are clear to others.

Remember, credibility cannot be self-proclaimed. We cannot demand it. Like respect, it must be earned.

When we don’t know how to act or react in a situation, it can help to think about one person we find highly credible. Think about that person and ask yourself, “How would they react in this situation?” Even as a leader, sometimes we need a model. Finally, ask yourself, “How do I want to be remembered?”

Your credibility is your foundation for leadership. The more you adopt the 12 behaviours and attitudes listed above, the more you will be perceived as a truly credible person.

To evaluate your credibility, take the test by following this online PDF.

About the author


Pierrette Desrosiers

Pierrette Desrosiers, MPS, CRHA is a work psychologist, professional speaker, coach and author who specializes in the agricultural industry. She comes from a family of farmers and she and her husband have farmed for more than 25 years (

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