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Maintaining Credibility

According to Merriam-Webster, credibility is the quality or power of inspiring belief. Credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise. The late Senator John McCain is an American hero who epitomized trustworthiness and expertise throughout his career. After his recent death, the outpouring of accolades he received from the nation and world highlighted his popularity, trustworthiness, and credibility. He demonstrated these attributes as a naval aviator and as a statesman. He earned credibility within his own party and from those on the other side of the aisle. He demonstrated credibility with world leaders and with the oppressed. Regardless of their social standing and in spite of the political backlash that he knew would ensue, he stood united with their cause and inspired the belief that he would fight to right their injustices.

Another example of credibility comes from personal reflection. I commanded hundreds of reservists and active duty personnel during the deployment of the MC-130 in the initial invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Our role in this aircraft is multi-dimensional, however, during the invasion the majority of missions involved refueling Army special ops helicopters within enemy territory. Being predominantly a reserve force comes with the challenges, stigmas, and preconceived notions of being treated like the B team. However, it did not take long for the Army to realize they were dealing with a mature, highly effective, and experienced team of men and women. My crews were spectacular without exception in executing all the missions assigned to them. This phenomenal team that I was lucky enough to lead, quickly demonstrated their trustworthiness and credibility. The Army leadership recognized this and from that point forward personally requested "Beef’s guys" because they knew they would deliver regardless of the conditions and threats they faced.

With these two brief examples, credibility is a key component in effectively getting the job done in the military sector as well as on the civilian side. Expertise and trustworthiness are the keys to success regardless of your role or responsibilities. Sure, there are those in the business world that can fake these characteristics, however, it will not take long for the organization to figure it out. In my current job as an airline pilot for a major carrier, it does not take long to determine that an airline employee lacks expertise. As a result, those that have to interact with him or her begin to lose trust and will avoid working alongside these individuals in the future.

How do you ensure that credibility exists in your organization? First of all, you have to lead by example. As the leader, you must demonstrate trustworthiness and expertise at every turn and in every interaction. The next critical component to ensuring credibility is training. Proper and thorough training creates consistency within the team. Finally, quality control is the last piece of the puzzle that helps create an appearance of credibility within your business or organization. Effective quality control processes yield useful data that can lead to positive change in any organization.

My colleagues at TBA have all addressed credibility either directly or indirectly in their leadership blogs. The take away from all of us is that credibility is earned. What will you do to inspire belief and to earn credibility in your daily life moving forward?


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