Archive for January, 2010

5 Tips to Build Credibility with a Team

Posted on January 19, 2010. Filed under: Leadership and teams | Tags: , , |

Well this blog is about leadership although I suspect some of the themes explored may widen over time, here’s another post specifically about being a good leader.
We started off with a gardening analogy – because I was doing a lot of gardening myself at the time and as I worked I began to think that there are a lot of similarities between the two activities. (I won’t repeat that post here – suffice it to say that pruning, weeding and careful selection were some of the major items.) Some writers refer to leaders as those who tend and harvest from others (in a good way) and others talk about resonance from being grounded and I think gardeners are pretty grounded because they work the soil and demonstrate patience, planning and ongoing effort.

In all seriousness, that first post was really about key management actions that can be over-done and therefore just as damaging if not done at all.

For today’s post I’m going to link that to the Top 5 Things a Manager can do to build or lose credibility. Certainly too much of any single behaviour (such as the gardening comments) can be unhealthy, just as anything done on an ad hoc or temporary basis can be. These 5 tips can help you build and maintain good rapport with your team:

5 things that will build credibility with your team:
Honesty. Not brutality – be open and honest, even to say “I’m sorry I can’t share more detail about this upcoming project because…..” rather than just clamming up or claiming it’s for Executive/senior staff ears only.

Inviting their input and ideas. Provide an outline first and some boundary and then ask for opinion on a proposal or ideas to expand or improve it. You could host a brainstorming session if you want their ideas up front and to retain your role as creative lead. Getting them involved makes them feel valued and important.

Behaving as if you trust them. What does this entail? Not checking up on work progress or sitting at the desk, delegating some key tasks, inviting them to a key meeting. Naturally this assumes that they have the skills and your trust, and that you have accurately judged the environments you introduce and expose them to.

Sticking up for them. There are times when others criticise our team – rightly or wrongly – and word will spread about the manager who goes along with the gripe and the one who defends the team. I’m not suggesting you go all out and deny any wrongdoing – your teams are human like you and we all make mistakes. The thing is to make a statement that clarifies your support and faith in them as well as a shared commitment to fixing things that may have gone awry.

Dealing with set backs professionally. This is where you as a leader need to show some, but not an over abundance of emotion if a proposal is rejected, a budget declined or a promotion is given to someone else. Save the ranting or histrionics for your friends and selected people outside the workplace. Your team need to know that you are human, not a human volcano. Trust me, they’ll know when you are really het up about something – the intent here is not to frighten or intimidate them with an uncontrolled response that makes them wary or reluctant to approach you until the emotional barometer has been checked.
The flip side: 5 things to erode credibility: always smile and never show any shred of other emotion, take credit for the work of others, always have a fall guy or stooge, pick a favourite and treat them differently, and last but not least lie.

If you would like to see more on those 5 Not To’s let me know – I’ve presumed that they are self explanatory, yet am open to a conversation about situations where it may not be so clear cut.

Obviously it’s going to be easier to apply these approaches to a new team. And those of you who haven’t changed jobs or company may wonder what use it is to you – well the reality is that we can all make changes at any time. If we want to. If you really want to improve your standing with your team then you can try any or all of these approaches. The choice is yours about whether you try them and let your actions announce the shift or if you engage the support of your team by openly stating something like “I’ve had some feedback on my leadership approach and am going to be trying some new approaches to improve. If you notice me doing XXX then it would be good to hear how I’m doing. If I slip back into the old habit of doing YYYY then please let me know gently that it’s happened.”

And if those lapses involve any of the 5 items then you need to take care because these are almost guaranteed to erode or destroy any credibility and trust you have had. And these can affect more than your direct reports.

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