In 2010, I ran across an article in a flight magazine on Personal Excellence. It was by Jean Kelley. Her article gives the bones for this post.
Being an influencer is not self-declared or automatic. Much of the ability to influence others comes with the credibility you have with the particular person. There are people who I’m unable to influence because for whatever reason I’ve no credibility with that person. Other people receive my suggestions or directives. In the latter case, I’ve managed to be credible to that person.
In her article, Jean Kelley wrote, “Credibility is not something you automatically have, or something you bestow upon yourself – it is something others bestow upon you.” With one person I am credible another has chosen not to bestow that label on me. If you wish to influence people you must be credible to them. There are no “self-crowned” influencers as there is no “self-crowned” credibility.
For others to view you as credible, you have to act your way into credibility.
Some years ago, Rex Deckard (Des Moines, Iowa; coordinator of Church Planting U for the United Pentecostal Church) taught the North American Missions Board of Directors that research indicated, “action is more important than attitude.” Our actions are things we choose to do. This works into the idea of credibility. We can talk a good game and then not actually get the thing done.
Our decisions determine our credibility. Each of us makes multiple decisions each day
- whether to visit a parishioner,
- whether to do the work necessary to meet a particular deadline,
- whether to return a phone call when you know it will be a difficult conversation,
- whether to appropriately direct with others.
Influential people are evaluated by their behavior – not their communication or their intentions.
Now to borrow rather directly from Ms. Kelley’s cupboard. As an influencers you can boost your credibility in any of several ways:
1. Don’t over-promise – do what you say you will do and choose what you will and will not do. The latter part of this is important. Every influencer has far more opportunities than what they can do. Prioritize what you take on. Don’t be late with things you’ve promised to accomplish. Get ‘er done!
2. Be open about your motives behind a decision – you choose what you tell people. If there is self-interest involved in a decision you make people are generally able to see through whatever garment you robe that decision in.
3. Fess up to mistakes early – leaders choose to cover things up or put them out in the open. Crow is not tasty, but goes down quick. Richard Nixon did not lose the presidency over the burglary a few second rate aides had participated in; Nixon lost his credibility when he didn’t fess up tp having become aware of the Watergate break-in. None have actually attained the inerrancy of the papacy. When you blow it, admit it!
4. Keep confidences – get permission before divulging sensitive information. You have the choice as to whether or not to repeat information. My inclination is to NOT divulge any information to another person. Many secrets will go with me to my grave. Don’t use innuendo to communicate what should be a confidence. Absorb what people tell you, pray about it and in most instances work with those people to come out of the mess they’ve made of their life. (Perhaps someone out there would be willing to blog about, “The High Cost of a “Gossiping Preacher.”) If you don’t keep confidences you will soon be stuck – nobody will trust you.
5. Treat others consistently and fairly – you choose your actions toward others.
6. Listen to others – you choose where you put your mental focus. I listen better when I’m making notes regarding the other person’s conversation; instead of asking questions and interrupting what the person is saying noting what I’m wanting to ask later. (If you do this be sure to let the other person know what you are doing; otherwise they imagine you to be making a grocery list.)
Credibility is not gained by a sermon or song. Credibility that lends to influence others is the result of walking down the same long road – headed in the right direction.
Perhaps you have a story of someone who did not have credibility and tried to lead people. Without divulging names share the outcome and what could have been done different.