Credibility: Like emotional intelligence, it’s hard to fake

What makes an employee credible?

As I collected testimonies for this month’s cover story on how communicators gain credibility (and how they lose it), I naturally reflected on bosses, colleagues and subordinates I’ve trusted and enjoyed working with over the years (and those who I haven’t).

What kinds of co-workers do I like? What traits force me to admire and respect even people I don’t like? And what kinds of people do I have a hard time looking in the eye, let alone relying on?

Perfectionists are often the least credible people in the organization. Think of credibility not as something you lose by making mistakes or looking foolish occasionally, but something you gain by being right most of the time. People who hold up deadlines in order to quadruple-check everything, people who trade their individual judgment for the organization’s wisdom, people who never surprise anybody with an idea—these are the types of people about whom everyone in the organization ultimately and wisely decides: We could do without him.

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