There may be times when you feel you have lost your authority or ability to lead and are dejected about your future. You may have stretched the truth, been unprepared or gone on and on about a topic and hogged the meeting. All hope is not lost. Here are seven ways to quickly take back your credibility:
1. Dress the part.
Award-winning costume designer Edith Head said, “You can have anything you want if you dress for it.” If you want credibility and dress for it, you can have it. This means dressing appropriately for the environment in which you work. Take cues from what your manager and leaders at your organization wear. If you look the part, it makes it easier for people to see you in the part.
2. Look at others.
When you speak, look at others. Do not look down or over people’s heads and at the walls. If you do not look into people’s eyes, you miss the opportunity to acknowledge and engage them. When you look into someone’s eyes, you are doing more than talking. You are adding value to the people around you.
3. Listen, and ask questions.
Close-minded and egotistical people are rarely held in high-regard. Leaders listen more than they speak and do not pretend to know all the answers. Leaders want to know what others think. Ask, “What do you think?” or “What am I missing here?” People want to be heard, and listening shows respect.
Listening helps you to get buy-in. Hold sidebar conversations before and after group meetings. These one-on-one discussions with colleagues and teammates are powerful. It is your opportunity to share your ideas and, more importantly, listen to their ideas and feedback. When you make the effort to listen, people feel heard and you gain trust. The more people trust you, the more persuasive you can be.
4. Know your facts, and talk numbers.
Be prepared. Stay on top of your work. The more you know and understand, the better informed you can be to answer questions and make smart decisions. If numbers are involved, know the data. Numbers help to make ideas and concepts concrete and demonstrate your expertise.
5. Tell the truth.
It is better to admit that you do not know something than to try to cover it up. Don’t lie. It undermines your credibility and makes it harder for others to trust you in the future. When people lose respect for you, you lose your authority and ability to lead. Remember the saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you?” What is more likely to hurt you is trying to cover it up. Say, “I’ll look into it and get back to you,” if you do not know the answer.
Always be ready to pitch an idea. When a meeting comes to a standstill, this is your opportunity to present an idea that can move your team and organization forward. For example, you are discussing with your colleagues a technology application that is in beta testing and is not gaining traction. Have a thoughtful idea in mind to share for how to improve the application, whether it is conducting detailed user research or a possible partnership with another company. Leaders are forward, proactive thinkers. Take this opportunity to have people start looking to you for direction.
7. Be decisive.
Don’t be wishy-washy. Use what you know to make informed decisions. Stop trying to defer it to others. If you are in a position of authority or someone asks you to make a decision, do it. This is your opportunity to demonstrate a clear vision and direction.
You have control over your credibility. Take advantage of what you can control, and get your career back on track.
Avery Blank is a millennial impact strategist, women’s advocate, and lawyer who helps others to strategically position and advocate for themselves to achieve individual and organizational goals.