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1-Page Leadership: Attaining, and Retaining, an Energy Company’s Credibility

A recent Gallup poll of the trusted professions tells a sorry tale for business executives (see results below). Even the lawyers scored better than we did. But at least we beat car salespeople! Go business executives! 

Credit: Gallup

Seriously, though: yikes — only 20% of those surveyed said business executives had high or very high levels of honesty and ethics! That sounds like we voted for ourselves … and maybe our mothers put in a good word. Again, yikes! How can we get things accomplished if so few in society see business executives as a group as being honest and ethical? 

I don’t have a solution for the broader societal challenge. But that’s not the imperative for you or me. Our imperative is our own personal credibility and the credibility of the energy companies whose brand we are paid to manage, promote and protect. Know that you may be starting from a disadvantage — most people find business executives as neither particularly honest nor trustworthy. But, assuming you and your company are truthful, also know that credibility can grow or shrink.

The math is simple:

CREDIBILITY = (Competence + Confidence + Concision + Candor) times Consistency

Let’s walk through the formula. Competence is largely self-explanatory. You need to know what you are doing and what you are talking about. Many of us think that’s the whole of credibility; it’s not. Confidence also matters: if you don’t display confidence in what you are doing and saying, why should your audience have confidence in you? If you have confidence but can’t display it — stage fright, perhaps — proactively work on that. You — and your credibility — will be so glad you did.

But competence and confidence are the easy ones.


It is much harder, but just as fundamental, to be appropriately concise. Learn — and practice — distilling without simplifying so that people have confidence not just in what you say but in what you leave out. And candor— that’s the most difficult element of all. Be forthright: address risks and unknowns instead of ignoring (or worse, burying) them. Credibility grows. Take candor as a source of comfort rather than discomfort: as Walt Whitman (above) noted “all faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor.” And in my experience, you’ll find yourself reaching positive, durable business outcomes too. 

Finally, all of those elements are added together and multiplied by consistency. The world is a dynamic place but strive to make your competence, confidence, concise on and candor relentless. Be the Emmitt Smith (below) of your industry: “Consistency is one of the hallmarks of my career. You knew what you were going to get out of E-Smith every game, every year, no matter if I was 22, 21 or 35 years old.”

By contrast, inconsistency (call it “situational credibility” to be extra charitable) shrinks credibility at an astonishing rate. And it doesn’t work. A lack of consistency shrinks credibility. To the very best of your ability, credibility is always, credibility is every time.

So forget about the polls. Focus on your own imperative and grow!

Lincoln Bleveans's picture

Thank Lincoln for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 13, 2020 10:23 pm GMT

Consistency is one of the hallmarks of my career. You knew what you were going to get out of E-Smith every game, every year, no matter if I was 22, 21 or 35 years old

This should be instilled in those in utilities anyway, as consistency in power delivery and service is even more paramount compared with other industries out there!

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