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Tip 3. Demonstrate Cooperation With Good Intentions.

To be credible, you must demonstrate that you are acting in good faith to the best of your knowledge and ability. People must believe that you want to cooperate to help them achieve their personal and career goals. People will forgive you for poor judgment, but they will rarely forgive you for poor intentions.

Tip 4. Be Consistent.

“He’s flip-flopping again. Yesterday, he announced to an audience in Detroit that blah, blah, blah. Then this morning in San Francisco, he told a group that he intended to blah, blah, blah.” Politicians will do anything to sidestep that charge of being inconsistent. Inconsistency can be disastrous to a candidate, an advertising campaign, or a child.

Have you ever been around a household with young children who have a hard time going to bed at night? At 8:00, Mom says, “Johnny, time to turn off the TV, pick up your toys, and go to bed.” Johnny makes no move. At 8:05, Mom says, “Johnny, I’m not going to tell you again to turn off the TV and pick up your toys. If you don’t obey me, I’m not going to let you watch TV tomorrow night.” At 8:10, Mom says, “Johnny, pick up your things, turn off the TV, and go to bed now! I’m not going to tell you again. If you don’t mind me, you’re not going to watch TV tomorrow night.” Johnny picks up a couple of toys and continues to watch TV. At 8:20, Mom turns off the TV for Johnny. “Here, I’ll help you. It’s time for bed.” She picks up most of the toys and gets Johnny in bed at 8:30.

The next night, same routine. The third night, same routine. The fourth night at 8:20, Mom says, “Johnny, put away your toys, turn off the TV, and go to bed!” As usual, Johnny ignores her. Mom explodes, spanks him, and sends him to bed wailing. She’s thinking that the problem is all Johnny’s when in reality she’s trained him to ignore her by her inconsistency. Her words do not match her actions.

The same thing happens at work. We communicate by our actions and inactions as well as our words. We communicate by which policies we enforce and which policies we don’t enforce; by what we allow work time for and what we don’t allow work time for; by what we fund and what we don’t fund; by what behavior we reward and what behavior we punish; by what we do and what we criticize others for doing; by what we ask for and what we’re willing to give in return.
To be credible, our words have to match our policies, performance, and plans. Otherwise, we create a Mom-and-Johnny situation.

Tip 5. Demonstrate Competence.

People flock to experts, star performers, wise decision makers, and winners. People don’t intentionally invest their money in poorly performing stocks; neither do they want to invest their trust in people they doubt can achieve what they claim. To be led, either by words or actions, followers need to have faith in your competence to perform. They want to know that you can win the game. They want to know that you can finish the project successfully. They want to know that you can turn the company around. So how do leaders inspire confidence in their abilities while seeming modest and likable as people? They acknowledge their accomplishments as leaders, but avoid arrogance. Difficult, but not impossible. How? The attitude behind the talk turns the tables.

Tip 6. Be Correct.

Few people set out to be incorrect; it’s just that when they are missing information, they make assumptions or reason wrongly. Instead of informing, they unintentionally misinform. Whether or not people routinely ask for the source of your information or conclusions, be ready to provide it. If they ask for sources, rather than being offended, welcome such testing questions as credibility checkers. Why would people want sources for relatively insignificant information? Because we test validity on all important matters by considering the source. How do we test the source of important information? By checking the credibility of all information coming from that same source. Credibility is circular. Credibility in the insignificant breeds credibility for the significant. Once you’re caught in an error, credibility creeps back ever so slowly.

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