In this communication, I want to share a bit of the remarkable work done on the credibility (or otherwise) of Business Leaders by four senior people in academia which appears in the MIT Sloan Management Review of August 17, 2018.

The “Fabulous Four” conducted several field studies over three years to understand what affects leaders’ credibility and how their credibility influences employee behaviours and organizational outcomes. The studies included both blue- and white-collar employees with varying levels of formal education. They identified leadership behaviours that generate perceptions of competence and incompetence, trustworthiness and untrustworthiness – factors that either underpin or undermine leader credibility.

They write, “Leadership is the relationship between people who aspire to lead and those who choose whether or not to follow. It hinges on the leader’s credibility, which is difficult to build and easy to lose”.

They ask, “What’s at the heart of credibility?”

They answer, “Two critical elements: perceived competence (people’s faith in the leader’s knowledge, skills, and ability to do the job) and trustworthiness (their belief in his or her values and dependability)”.

They continue to write, “Such views are formed through direct and indirect observation of the leader’s work and performance. Employees seek assurance that those who are managing them and assessing their performance are competent and trustworthy”.

At the end of their findings they conclude with “Insights for Leaders”. They then proceed to share a few insights so that leaders will better understand how to avoid losing credibility or, if they’ve already lost it, how to get it back. They suggest that:
1. “The behaviours that help you gain or lose credibility aren’t always mirror images of each other”.
2. “Sometimes positive information carries more weight than negative information – and vice versa”.
3. “Overcoming the loss of credibility is difficult – but possible”.

I strongly suggest that you Google the relevant MIT Sloan Management Review and I attach their list of “Actions that Build or Destroy Credibility”. At this time of the year many managers are reviewing the performance of their reports. It would be good for the managers to use the attached document to review their own actions.