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Habits of Practice: Personal Credibility


Hoffman's Downtown is one of my favorite places for breakfast in Santa Cruz. Although I certainly try out different dishes now and again, I still find myself returning to my favorite meal of eggs over easy. The chefs consistently get my eggs just right--they're credible in my eyes. 

What makes you credible in the eyes of others? 
When was the last time you checked in with your customers, clients, stakeholders, business partners, direct reports, and team mates and validated your personal credibility with them? If you don't know how others look to you for credible advice or actions, you might be leaving money on the table.
On the flip side, you might have a false sense of security if you believe yourself to be more credible than others think you are. You could be at risk of weakening your influence and the ability to convince others to follow your lead or trust your recommendations.

Consistency Builds Personal Credibility

We're creatures of habit. Practice makes perfect. You've heard these sayings more than a few times because they hold elements of truth to them. We are creatures of habit. However, you have a hand in the actions you choose, practice, and strengthen until they become habits of practice.
What actions could you take before the end of the year that would make you more credible at work or in your career? A few ideas to consider:
  • Habit of Practice: If you say you're going to do something do it
    (credibility currency: Your word means something)

  • Habit of Practice: Curious questioning and thoughtful listening
    (credibility currency: Facilitator of ideas)

  • Habit of Practice: Own your risks without looking for scapegoats
    (credibility currency: Responsible Risktaker 

  • Habit of Practice: Show up even when things get tough
    (credibility currency: Dependable, trustworthy)

Personal Credibility When Introducing Change

It goes without saying that people are more willing to follow the lead of someone who they have rapport with, with someone they trust, and who has steered them in the right direction at least once in the past.
Wouldn't it makes sense, then, to ensure that your personal credibility is intact if you're planning to lead change or participate in change efforts and activities?
Let's say you've been asked to serve as a change catalyst for a new group--you're unknown to the primary influencers--but you're credible with your existing work stream team and have a good reputation within the larger business unit (BU). Here's how you could use your "credibility bank account" from one group to open a "new account" where you've not built up any currency yet.
We'll use the habit of practice of curious questioning and thoughtful listening as an example:
  1. Identify the top influencers in the new group or BU. Start by tapping into the currency that you've built with your existing influencers to see if they can identify their counterparts in another part of the organization. You're in luck if they can! Ask if they'd be willing to make an introduction on your behalf to fast track the reach of your reputation. However, if your contacts aren't able to provide you with introductions, you'll need to start from scratch by leveraging an existing habit of practice, in this instance, curious questioning and thoughtful listening. 

  2. Listen "between the lines" during meetings. Listen and document the "pain points" of those in attendance, particularly for those who you've identified as key influencers. Work behind the scenes to see if you can address any of their pain points.
  3. Build early trust by giving before asking. Set up initial meetings with these key influencers whose pain points you're able to help solve or at the least move the needle to address. You're letting your influencers know that you're a thoughtful listener who's willing to give something without asking for anything. Although tempting, if asked how they can reciprocate, try to refrain from asking for anything during this introductory meeting. Your goal is to build early credibility currency with individuals who will both influence and persuade others on your behalf.      

Personal Credibility When Things Go Wrong

No matter how well you plan, things will (and do) go wrong even if you have a solid Plan B. But this is where your personal credibility and reputation serve as both a safety net and a path for taking next steps. Your credibility currency pays your way. 

People trust that you'll lead them out of the quagmire that you're in because you've done it before. Maybe the situation was different and you'll need to take a slew of new actions that you're unfamiliar with--actions outside of your own comfort zone--but it's because you're credible in one area that you're able to transfer it to another. Personal credibility allows you to pivot and readjust and rebuild as needed. 

Self-Empathy During Setbacks  
Empathy is about truly connecting and listening to another. It's a critical component of Emotional Intelligence. Self-empathy is about listening to yourself. Self-empathy is a term used in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a process developed by an international peacemaker and psychologist named Marshall Rosenberg
I've learned to forgive myself when I break the yolk and serve up something inferior to what I know could be better. It's never about getting it right every time, but appreciating the times when it does happen and valuing those who make it look so easy.
On this Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. I'm thankful and appreciative of cooks who get it right more times than not!