"Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying." - Ralph Waldo Emerson\r\n\r\nWe recently concluded a series of Leadership workshops across the country for a leading MNC organization. While we were discussing the \u201ccharacteristics of admired leaders\u201d \u2013 a core concept that came up for discussion was that of \u201ccredibility\u201d. Through examples and personal experience, most people were pretty clear about this \u2013 that for them to admire a leader, he needs to be \u201ccredible\u201d.\r\n\r\n\u201cBut what does the word \u201ccredibility\u201d mean in terms of day to day behaviors?\u201d, I asked. The voices around the room had different expressions for it:\r\n\r\n \t\u201cWalk the talk\u201d\r\n \t\u201cKeep up your promises and commitments\u201d\r\n \t\u201cPut your money where your mouth is\u201d\r\n\r\nWhat everyone intuitively recognizes and were saying, was that - we as leaders & individuals, should do what we say we would do.\r\n\r\nNow, how hard can that be?\r\n\r\nI suggest you do a quick DWYSYWD audit on yourself before we move forward:\r\n\r\n \tDo you exhort your team to be disciplined and in office by 9am every day? How disciplined are you in following that yourself?\r\n \tYou meet someone in the corridor who comes to you with a new idea. You tell him it\u2019s a great idea \u2013 and you shall revert back to him soon. How often do you actually revert back?\r\n \tHow often do you tell a customer \u2013 that you will get back to him\/her by EOD with a proposal? And how many times do you actually do that?\r\n \tIt\u2019s the month end. You tell your channel partner to stock up on inventory with the promise of an additional backend sweetener. How promptly do you action that, once the month is over?\r\n \tYour wife is on the phone at the fag end of the day. You tell her you will be back home by 7pm. How consistently do you keep your word?\r\n \tYou are back at home. You tell your kids that watching too much of television is bad. How much of your own time goes in watching TV?\r\n\r\nInvent the right questions to ask yourself. The key thing to watch out for and for you to rate is the question: \u201cHow consistently does your video match your audio?\u201d\r\n\r\nBut why is this so important? Stephen Covey, had introduced a very powerful concept that he termed, \u201cthe emotional bank balance\u201d. In any of our relationships, every time that we do a positive act we add to that virtual bank balance. Similarly, every time we have a negative experience (a fight, a misunderstanding, a breach of trust) \u2013 we withdraw from that bank balance. They key to successful relationships, he said, was to keep our emotional bank balances positive.\r\n\r\nMuch like the \u201cemotional bank balance\u201d, as individuals and leaders, each of us also holds a \u201ccredibility bank balance\u201d with the various stake holders that we work with. Every time that we do what we say we would do, it is an addition into that account. However, every time that we go back on our words, we make a withdrawal from our \u201ccredibility account\u201d. Not only that, every time that we go back on our words with another person, we encourage the other person to build a \u201cbuffer\u201d with us. We are unknowingly increasing the \u201ctransaction cost\u201d of that relationship.\r\n\r\nA very visible manifestation of this syndrome is sometimes in sales teams. A target to be achieved by the country is buffered at every level down the hierarchy, until it reaches the final person on the field \u2013 by which time there is a significantly buffered target. What this could potentially lead to is a large chunk of the field force missing their sales numbers \u2013 leading to a negative spiral of demotivation, attrition and apathy.\r\n\r\nCredibility \u2013 much like trust, is a hard earned quality. Think about it \u2013 why is it that politicians across the world, and more so in India often ridiculed? Why are they the butt of so many jokes? Perhaps because they promise a lot of things, but actually do little? Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner, in their seminal work called, \u201cThe Leadership Challenge\u201d put this very nicely: \u201cIf you don\u2019t believe in the messenger, you won\u2019t believe the message\u201d!\r\n\r\nWhat then, is the message for leaders from all of this? Mahatma Gandhi, put it in the most succinct way, when he said, \u201cMy life is my message\u201d. He just did not speak about simplicity \u2013 he lived simplicity. He did not just voice independence, but through his every action \u2013 including weaving the charka every day, he lived the value of independence.\r\n\r\nHow closely are your actions in sync with your words? Do you always DWYSWYD? Building your own credibility is the bedrock of Leadership. Ask yourself today: Where do you stand on this parameter?