One of the things I hear all the time, from those who make high-level leadership position promotion selections, is that their candidates are capable, but not 100% credible. They lack the depth expected of them in those top roles. As one senior executive told me, “Sarah, I don’t just need them to be ready to move up to the next level. I also want them to increase their rating on the credibility meter.”
Your peers are going to rate you, using their credibility meter or radar. You may ascend to a higher level, but once you arrive you cannot fake it. Otherwise someone on the team will ask you a question you won’t be able to respond to, because you’re out of your depth. You’ll be exposed, and your leadership presence and influence will evaporate.
Oftentimes, due to having a limited and narrow specialization, leaders get promoted into positions that are beyond their scope of understanding. Here are my 3 E’s to help you increase your credibility starting now, so that you will be more effective on day one of your next promotion.
1) Expand Your Strategic Vision
Learn about other specialties outside your direct area of responsibility but still inside your sphere of influence. Look for your blind spots and expand your business acumen. If you run the sale division, for instance, are you familiar with the goals and challenges of marketing, HR, accounting, or other divisions?
Network with colleagues to understand their business segments, while also building collaborative partnerships. Interact with rank and file employees on the front lines of each operation. That sends a clear message that you listen with genuine interest, curiosity, and empathy.
Select two business areas where you need to learn more, and start working in that direction right now. What are their challenges? What solutions do they have to share? Where do they fit into the innovative bigger vision you see for the organization?
2) Elevate Your Leadership Brand Presence
Visibility and credibility go hand in hand. That’s why I coach leaders to ensure that they don’t just earn the promotion, but have the credibility to handle it with poise, expertise, and success. You must manage and shape your brand so that people perceive you the way you wish to be perceived.
Volunteer to speak on your area of expertise to the C-Suite leadership team, at an external industry conference, or during an internal event. That raises your visibility while it increases your credibility as a leadership expert.
What are three ways to showcase your value, experience, and leadership credibility in front of senior decision makers, industry leaders, or other business divisions?
3) Enhance Your Value & Influence
To demonstrate your brand value, share your individual perspective, original insights, and insider knowledge in meetings with teams and bosses. Keep your communications succinct, meaningful, and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. People like to follow charismatic leaders who express a unique point of view.
When others present a good idea, try to build upon it to foster an inclusive and collaborative dialogue that multiples the value chain. Adopt the E.F. Hutton tagline – “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” When people tune in to listen to you, listen to them, too, and respect their ideas.
In what upcoming situations this week can you listen more intently to help stimulate dialogue? How can you assert yourself to add personal leadership insight?
I hope you realize the importance of working on the ways that other people view your credibility meter. I’ve given you a few ideas. They can help to elevate your leadership brand, in the eyes of peers and colleagues you will soon lead, if you start applying these principles.