Credibility, How Leaders Gain and Lose it and Why People Demand It

There is little question that we have become an increasingly follower-conscious society.

Today, people don’t just campaign for political office, they also rally for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn followers, or compete for our vote as the next singing sensation on television shows such as “American Idol” or “The Voice.”

Yet, when it comes to gaining the support and commitment of action among a group of individuals within an organization or a political cause, one has to be more than entertaining or charming. Within the book Credibility, How Leaders Gain and Lose it and Why People Demand It by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, one can gain insight on what it really takes to earn trust and confidence among constituents.

The authors conclude that credibility is key in achieving success as a leader. As “the foundation of leadership,” credibility is a quality that must be gained in order to gain followers.  Kouzes and Posner share that leaders must act in a way that engenders belief in them as leaders and establishes and sustains trust and confidence.

The book is helpful in sharing those disciplines and principles that shape leadership credibility and actions you can take to apply to your own leadership initiatives. Explored in the book are answers to questions such as what leaders expect from constituents and vice versa, why some leaders are believed in while others are not and what actions sus\tain and destroy this leader/constituent relationship.

The book also shares the results of studies on what people are seeking in a leader, with the traits of being honest, forward-looking, inspiring and competent in the lead as the four essential characteristics.

Delving into the six disciplines, or action steps, for earning and sustaining credibility, the book is especially insightful not only in showing how one can better inspire commitment and loyalty, but in the authors’ definition of leadership success. This, they explain, can be judged not by scale and scope of influence, but in the difference that has been made and ultimately “leaving the place better than you found it.”

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