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February 2019 Business SCAN

The question of what makes a good leader is one which continues to interest and debate within contemporary business research and practice. Amongst the multitude of qualities we perceive to be desirable for a leader to possess, credibility is the one most frequently referred to as “the foundation of leadership”. We hope this Hot Topic with stimulate both discussion and self-reflection regarding the ways in which we can all work toward enhancing our credibility as leaders.

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The Credible Leader

Research which has sought to explore the fundamental strategies, tactics, skills, and practices required to lead employee relationships to flourish, has concluded that credibility is the foundation in which business visions are realised.

However, credibility can take a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy, and to paraphrase Aristotle; people won’t believe in the message, if they don’t believe in the messenger. Consequently, to be a credible leader, one must appreciate that their success is largely dependent on the willingness of others to commit to their vision.

In times of uncertainty, credibility is regarded as key in generating confidence amongst employees. Regardless of whether you are leading a work-related project or leading a team into battle, there are certain qualities that would appear to be universal amongst those we would regard as “credible leaders”.

The credible leader is: honourable, able to lead in turbulent times, committed to continual development, future orientated, creative, innovative, and willing to draw upon the ideas of others.

The Perfect Storm

It’s no secret that the modern workplace is often fast-paced and unpredictable. As such, leaders must demonstrate an ability to effectively navigate a multitude of diverse challenges. In times of uncertainty, a leader’s credibility is key toward ensuring their team can weather these storms of uncertainty, whilst continuing to ensure their team’s vision is realised. To draw upon the analogy of a tornado, leadership is a cycle which begins with intrapersonal and interpersonal qualities of the leader. This is the driving force which keeps the tornado in rotation. In addition, there are factors which can often dictate and drive the behaviour of the leader. These factors relate primarily to the employees, who are considered the temperature dimension and ultimately determine the trajectory of the tornado. Finally, there must be consideration for the context of the situation or “atmospheric conditions” which can impact upon how the overall process plays out.

The Perfect Storm

Sources: Chandler, D. J. (2009). The perfect storm of leaders’ unethical behavior: A conceptual framework. International Journal of Leadership Studies, 5(1), 69-93.; Farquhar, K. (1994). Book Review: Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993, 332 pp. $24.95. cloth. Journal of Leadership Studies, 1(3), 153-155.; Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2011). Leadership is a relationship. Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It Why People Demand It, 1-21.; Quist, A. (2009). A credible Leader for Turbulent Times: Examining the Qualities necessary for Leading into the Future. Journal of strategic leadership, 2(1), 1-12.

Action Point

Consider the qualities you possess as a leader which keeps the tornado rotating and consider what impact it has on others and your surroundings. Also consider how you may be influenced by others.

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Techniques Referenced in this Hot Topic

Business Ethics | Employee-centred Leadership Style | Leadership

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