What interest rate would you charge someone to lend them your credibility for a day, or even 5 minutes? If you aren’t sure about the value of your credibility right now, it’s definitely something to think about. I was thinking about three areas of our lives where our credibility is critical to our success and happiness: At home, at work, and everywhere else you interact with people.

As you may imagine, I didn’t just stumble onto this topic. About a year ago, a friend recommended a book to me, Credibility by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.What I found most interesting about the book was what they refered to as the six disciplines of credibility:
1. Discovering your self
2. Appreciating constituents
3. Affirming shared values
4. Developing capacity
5. Serving a purpose
6. Sustaining hope

 A couple of factors came from this book that I found of use. First, in no way is credibility a derivative of position within an organization or pay rate. Second, this mentality supports the thesis of leadership that eschews “directing others” and instead supports the theory that leaders exist to improve the condition of those they lead. Said a bit more plainly, as a leader it’s my job to make others look good, not my job to get them to make me look good. This mindset of credibility helps explain why we respect (and show loyalty) to leaders that respect us more so than to those who simply choose to push their people around.

 The most interesting thing I’ve learned about credibility is that it’s current value is only valid right now. … Eh?  I mean that if you do something to wreck your credibility today, it can matter very little how spotless your record was up to that point. But that weakness can also work for you. Because no matter how bad your credibility is now, all you have to do to begin the repair effort is choose to be credible from now on. Of course, you can’t go from zero to hero with a single act. But it’s a whole lot easier than giving up caffeine, and it brings a whole different level of respect from those around you.

With that fragile nature, it’s easy to see why many would be reluctant to loan out their credibility to others. The reasons to do it are the same as the reasons to lead…to improve the condition of others around you. Come to think of it, maybe the interest rate was the wrong question. Instead, you should ask how much collateral (their own credibility) they have to put toward the loan. Will they protect you credibility as they would their own?

Have you taken a chance and loaned out yours lately?

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