You might be a total ninja at your job when it comes to skill, creativity and hard work.
The problem is, if people have a tough time trusting you and gaining confidence in your integrity on a personal level, technical competence can be quickly clouded. At the end of the day, business is just people making a series of deals with other people, both within and across companies; conviction in someone’s character is nothing short of critical.
Here are six common traits of employees and entrepreneurs frequently evaluated by their peers as honest, trustworthy and dependable on both personal and professional plains. Beyond the obvious, “Nose doesn’t grow when they speak” kinda stuff, of course…
It’s not about pointing out your mistakes and highlighting your incompetence; it’s about exhibiting the ability and willingness to recognize and acknowledge when you have been the source of ineffectiveness. It is important that everyone knows when to put business success ahead of pride and posturing (hint: Always) and even more important that everyone sees you as someone who is eager to optimize their own performance.
On the other side of the above, few things are worse for reputation than poaching credit from other contributors and not applying the proper attribution to deliverables. If Kim helped you with the presentation, put her name in the presentation. If Mark gave you some great design ideas, work the acknowledgement into the final product. It might feel forced sometimes, and that’s the idea; you’re forcing yourself to appreciate others, and appreciate them in such a way that everyone knows you’re not trying to swindle the spotlight. Ultimately, everyone respects a team player, and nobody will ever buy that you are one if you keep forgetting you have a team.
Every once in a while, with highly sensitive matters, you’ll need to keep some cards close to your chest. Outside of those seldom circumstances, you should avoid withholding facts and important discoveries from people who inquire and would benefit from the information. Sure, you want to effectively manage the communication flow and always be ahead of the tide. But if you’re treating all information you source as “sensitive” simply because you think you’d benefit from it being “proprietary”, people will quickly see you as a wall rather than a channel.
Don’t let problems bubble up and boil over; get ahead of everything in every sense of the word and make sure that it never looks like you were hiding. Advice like, “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission” might make sense for a dysfunctional marriage, and while you certainly don’t want to sound the alarm bells before there’s true cause for alarm (people want you to fix things, not freak out about them), in business, it’s better to look attentive than protective; much of your success will come down to communication…
It’s a bit about confidence, it’s less about volume, and it’s mostly about clarity. For people to trust you, you have to present a voice that is audible and understood, and one that maintains its strength despite temporary positions of weakness. If people are confident that you’re not afraid for them to hear you, there’s a better chance they won’t be afraid to trust you.
Delivering on your commitments, regardless of size, is important, but proper follow-through also encompasses self-management (if it’s your commitment, you should be checking in with them), excuse-free acknowledgement of neglect (you either did or you didn’t), and explicit attachment to timelines (we have clocks and calendars for a reason). Few people are willing to admit it, but flakes are usually just liars that hide behind “surprises” and self-inflicted anxiety. In the context of business, you might get away with some disorientation, but if you don’t consistently cash in your commitments, your perceived integrity will be headed straight for bankruptcy.