Are you a young leader looking to gain credibility? What to do? I talk to leaders all the time, especially those in their 20's, who are seeking the quick credibility answer. How do I get credibility now and not have to wait until I am in my mid 30’s or early 40’s before people will respect and respond to me?
Well, great question.
Not sure I have the answer you are looking for. But, I have a theory. The Credibility theory.
Starts with an equation, since I was a math minor in college..... Ultimately, credibility is this:
C = T x (E + E). Credibility = Time (times) Experience + Expertise.
To give some context, here are some thoughts on how to best gain credibility now:
1. Listen. Simple enough.
2. Write it down. Record it. Put it in a moleskine or evernote or on your iPhone. But be just short of annoying on capturing things you hear and watch and are part of. You'll find that writing something down automatically makes it a priority.
3. Find those who are smarter than you, and latch on. Learn from them. Ask questions. Be a learner.
4. Become an expert NOW, even before you need to be. That way when it's your turn to come off the bench you are ready. When you are asked for your opinion or involvement, give it or do it.
5. Self awareness and self identity. Know who you are. You are young- deal with it. Don’t think you know more than you really do, or have more experience than you really do.
6. Demonstrate your ability to collaborate and be a team player. Reality is, most of us work in a team environment, so you have to show your ability to get along with others in making things happen. The Lone Ranger and Han Solo aren't ideal.
7. Stay focused, but broad. Those who have the most credibility no longer are just experts in one area. You need to be a generalist.
8. Learn how to follow. And follow really well. It will position you for authority later.
9. Faithful with little, faithful with much. No matter what the task or assignment, whether how important or how minuscule, GET it DONE. Work really hard. Be a hustler. Accomplish getting coffee or making copies or working on spreadsheets or filing papers like it's the most important assignment ever. Demonstrate in the small and unimportant tasks the characteristics you will still have with the large and important tasks.
10. Humble and Hungry. Be known as the team member who will always get it done and is completely trustworthy. Show up early. Leave your ego at the door. Do your work with excellence. Volunteer for the tough assignments that no one else wants.