By Joseph John
The Democratic and Republican National Conferences have finally ended — some folks may be saying “thank the Lord.” While watching both “shows” there were so many speeches by such diverse people that I began to develop an assessment of the proceedings. I asked myself: “Who possesses personal credibility? WHO is the one I can believe and TRUST!?” I won’t share my judgment on the speakers from either party.
No, I won’t pass judgment since there were countless words, promises, and non-sequiturs being stated that I perceived “flew in the face of credibility.” What I did see, however, was an ideal educational experience for members of nonprofit boards. Yes, nonprofit boards. Why? Because the question of the day still remains: Who IS credible? And then I asked the second big question: What are the signs of questionable credibility?
Sandy Allgeier, the author of The Personal Credibility Factor: How to Get It, Keep It, and Get It Back (If You’ve Lost It), penned an article several years ago entitled Can You Be Trusted? 17 Credibility Busters That Are Ruining Your Career…and How to Stop Doing Them. Quite a mouthful, but quite a good article. Of the 17 “busters” she refers to, there are a number of them that are apropos to members of nonprofit boards.
Let’s review a few of them and see if it applies to anyone you know on a board. OR, is it possible that YOU, personally, are guilty of some of them.
Here’s Number 1 on Allgeier’s list!:
1. Failing to do what you say you will do.? The number one way to bust your personal credibility? Just fail to deliver on the promises or commitments you make. We’re all guilty of committing this sin from time to time, but when we do it more often than not, we’ve got a credibility problem.
Here’s the Second Credibility Buster she writes about…
2. Breaking appointments (or frequently rescheduling them).? When you make meetings and appointments, other people expect you to keep those commitments. Have you ever dealt with someone who regularly needed to break or reschedule appointments with you? It’s annoying, at best. And after it happens more than once or twice, you stop trusting them. Don’t be this person. When you make an appointment, keep it, if at all possible.
I’ve listed some more credibility busters below from Ms. Allgeier’s “Credibility Busters” — not necessarily in numerical order. I challenge you to create a mental checklist and determine if YOU are guilty of any of the following credibility busters and/or who on your board fits the description. More importantly — what are the prescriptions to remedy the problems on your board so that it functions with complete CREDIBILITY.
- Speaking first, thinking second
- Making decisions while keeping others in the dark.? Trust and credibility are built when others feel valued. It is broken when others feel like they don’t matter to us.
- Telling little white lies that morph into Big Hairy Lies.
- Trying to do everything—but ending up doing it all in a half-a**ed way.
- Coming across as “all knowing” when you’re really just thinking out loud
And a Real big problem in MANY meetings:
- Exhibiting body language and vocal tone that doesn’t match your words.
Do any of the “busters” hit home? Can you see yourself or others on your board that exhibit any of the traits that were listed?
It’s important to remember that personal credibility is based on the types of things that people DO and that applies to organizations as well. As Allgeier comments, “It’s what people do that form our opinions, relationships, and ultimate decision of whether to trust and respect them.”
People around us, in and out of the organization, are always ‘observing’ — our actions are constantly under the microscope. And so, we must make every effort to do our best to prepare board members to be an extension of the organization that they represent. Yes, and as Allgeier states in her book, at the top of that list is the core of Personal Credibility: (1) Respect, (2) Trust, and (3) Believability.