Avoiding 10 Leadership Credibility Killers


The reality is, credibility is the currency of leadership. Without it, effective leadership becomes almost impossible.

Leadership is built on a foundation of credibility.

Take away a leader’s credibility and you’ve lost the platform from which leadership is built.

I’ve been focusing a great deal of late on the critical importance of credibility in leadership. And, as I’ve noted before, in my opinion, few leaders have captured the essence of this better than Bill Hybels.

While coaching a group of leaders in Hong Kong, Bill sounded a loud warning against what I am calling, “credibility killers.”

A leader had asked Bill, “What would you say about a problem I have that I believe is hurting my leadership? At work, I tend to have a very bad temper and I think it is hurting my effectiveness.”

Bill let the comment hang in the air a moment or two then responded with wisdom, clarity and kindness.

“First of all,” Bill began, “thank you for the vulnerability you have shown in asking such a question. That shows courage. Now, to your question about losing your temper. I have two words you need to hear: Understandable and Inexcusable.”

Bill went on to explain, “That lack of control will undermine your leadership to the core. It’s understandable in that anger is a very human emotion. But it’s inexcusable in that when your teammates see you lose control, your credibility takes an enormous hit.”

Immediately, I scrawled this line across my notebook, “Consistently losing your temper is a credibility killer.”

But I would later fill my page with what I reflected were other credibility killers. Credibility killers happen when leaders consistently:

  1. Fail to follow through on commitments
  2. Tell half-truths
  3. Avoid hard conversations
  4. Not put in a full day’s work
  5. Blame others when goals are not met
  6. Display a lack of competence in key functions
  7. Belittle others
  8. Claim credit for others’ work or ideas
  9. “Spin” bad news
  10. Display arrogance

This list is merely the tip of the credibility iceberg.

The reality is, credibility is the currency of leadership. Without it, effective leadership becomes almost impossible.

This is why, I believe, Bill took the time to patiently explain the vital importance of this principle.

And it’s why every leader needs to take a close look at any credibility killers that might be eroding their leadership effectiveness.

Because when credibility is gone, it’s tough to get it back.

What would you add to this list?

Written by: Scott Cochrane

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