Tough to build and easy to lose, credibility ranks as one of the primary characteristics of a successful and persuasive professional.
A basic determination of credibility can be found in the way you answer this question: Can people believe what you say?
Credibility is influenced by three things:
• Technical competency
• Track record
• Interpersonal skills
Each one is critical in maintaining your credibility factor.
Technical competency resides in your ability to understand and perform in a particular area. For example, a person may have exceptional technical proficiency regarding inventory management — understanding inventory turns, being open to diverse buying methods, knowing costs associated with carrying inventory, and able to take strategic and tactical approaches to improving a company’s inventory position. A salesperson might demonstrate technical competency by understanding the sales progression or having above-average product knowledge.
How you’ve performed in the past is crucial to your credibility, because your track record is an excellent predictor of your future performance. If, for example, you say you’ll have a project done by the 18th and you’ve never missed a deadline, chances are when you are in a meeting and state the project will be done on the 18th people will believe you.
Although it could be argued that a person can have credibility without having interpersonal skills, you won’t survive organizational life very long if you can’t relate to and successfully interact with the other “kids in the sandbox.” Being able to communicate with co-workers and clients is often the Achilles heel of otherwise high-performing employees. You must speak, act and look the part.
The infamous “Soup Nazi” character on Seinfeld demonstrated terrific technical competency and a track record in making soup, but he wasn’t necessarily a person you’d like to work with all day. As matter of fact, that’s why other characters on the show eventually conspired against him.
For you to have the entire credibility package you must possess all three competencies: technical abilities, a great track record and effective interpersonal skills.