You can ask some people the direct question, “What makes someone credible?” With others, you may have to be somewhat indirect. Ask, “Who do you think is really reliable and can be believed? Why?” You may have to be even more indirect with some people. Ask, “Who do think is a great leader? Why?” The responses you get to these questions indicate each person’s key credibility markers.
Once you know the important markers, assess yourself. How well do you measure up to the standards mentioned by each person? For example, assume your boss indicates credibility comes from an established track record of success. Review your track record. As another example, assume an important coworker feels that follow-through on tasks counts as an important credibility marker. Assess your level of follow-through on assignments. In some cases you will not have to do much to build your credibility because you already stand out in areas important to others. Your boss may already know you have a strong track record. With other people, you may have to reinforce your credibility. For example, you may need to demonstrate task follow-through with the key coworker.
Develop your capabilities in areas where you may not be as strong. For example, assume field experience is important to a key customer and that you lack such experience. Find a way to get some meaningful time working in the field. Take on an assignment that provides you that exposure. Assume an advanced degree represents an important credibility marker for some. You may have to go back to school to gain credibility.
When I conduct leadership training sessions, I always ask the group to discuss the key credibility markers in their organization. Several factors come up frequently. They can serve as a general guide to build your credibility. People often perceive technical expertise as an important indicator of credibility. You can build this form of credibility by studying to become more expert in an area. You can also use the language associated with a technology area. Simply being able to use the correct terminology enhances credibility.
Consistency also comes up as a typical credibility marker because credible people are perceived as reliable. Seek out tasks and do whatever it takes to demonstrate consistent action. Other typical credibility markers include extra effort, honesty, and a willingness to stand up for your ideals. Put forth the extra energy, be absolutely honest, and fight for your beliefs to demonstrate your credibility in each of these areas.