The old adages “practice what you preach,” “put your money where your mouth is,” “walk the talk” – all boil down to one common denominator. Regardless of culture and geography the top four qualities that effective leaders have are: honest, forward-looking, competent and inspiring. Taken as individual traits each has a distinct role, but collectively these qualities represent that key quality every effective leader possesses: credibility. Never forget that titles may be granted but leadership must be earned. Your most precious personal asset is your own credibility and you need to stay vigilant to honor and sustain that credibility to be an effective leader.
When Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner interviewed Elaine Fortier, then VP of HR at NewFocus, she was experiencing the turmoil of the dotcom bubble collapsing and the uncertainty of the industry and her role professionally. She recognized that no one was going to come along and save her and so she posed this question to herself: “What is my framework for living?” She then made a concerted decision to bring love and courage to the center of her life and align her behaviors with those principles. Credibility emerges from exhibiting behavior consistent with our values. The language we choose to use becomes our action, which becomes our habits, which become our character. Organizations where people believe their managers and leaders follow through on promises and demonstrate the values they extol, consistently financially outperform companies lacking internal credible leadership.