Failure Lesson Two: Three Sure-Fire Ways to Lose Your Credibility

Our Leadership Failure series continues this week with a focus on credibility. It’s a trait that connects to so many other leadership attributes such as reputation, reliability, and confidence, to name a few.

So as we draw attention to behaviors that prevent success, let’s look deeper at three areas that require intentional focus by anyone in a leadership role.

#1 The 11th Hour Deliverer
We all know someone like this. A task deadline has been set and everyone understands the assignment. Yet, this individual keeps everyone involved on pins and needles until the last minute.  Yes, they usually come through but at the cost of worry to everyone else on the team.   If this is you, one of two things likely happen: team members begin to give you fake deadlines much earlier than the real target date because they know you deliver at the last minute; or you are not involved in those projects that require crisp organization and delivery.  Even for the best of procrastinators, you have to find a way to meet deadlines in a timely fashion. The organization can’t afford the frustration or risk you bring to it.

#2 The Best of Intentions
We’ve all been there. Someone stops you on the way to a meeting and asks you to make an important phone call.   You happily respond with, “Happy to help.   I’ll take care of it.” But then you go on the meeting and that’s the last time you think about the request. No doubt, this happens to everyone occasionally. However, when those occasions become your reputation, no one can have faith you will really do what you say you will do.  You have the best of intentions but the reality is poor follow through.  A quick fix?  Ask for all requests to be emailed to you; add it to your PDA or use the old fashioned note pad. Regardless, don’t rely on your memory.

#3 You Always Have the Answer
The pressures of today’s workplace can make it difficult to utter the words, “I don’t know.”  But let’s face it, it’s impossible to know the answer to all questions that plague a business.  Can you admit you don’t always know the answer?  Do you fear admitting to your peers or boss when you don’t know the answer?  And are you willing to seek the opinions of others more experienced or knowledgeable in your organization or industry?  These are powerful questions but require much more than a yes or no response.

The interesting aspect of these three behaviors is how easy it is to let them happen and hence, where our failure begins.  Credibility builds over time.  The more we contribute to the team’s success; do what we say we will do; and admit we aren’t the expert builds that confidence from our team, our peers and our leader. 

Now that’s the kind of failure I like to avoid.

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