Why Leadership Credibility in Important

Van GaalWithout Leadership Credibility the team will lack belief in the leader, and possibly also themselves, and without belief your chances of success have dropped considerably.

When teams have belief in their leader it increases their belief in themselves, as they know that great leaders get the best out of individuals and also out of their teams, which creates a positive can do will do attitude which all teams need to raise their performance to the next level.

When teams, and individuals, have belief it allows them to push that little bit harder as they know their efforts will be rewarded, whereas teams that lack belief are the ones that will quit because they see their efforts as futile, and why put in extra effort if its just going to end in failure.

As the new football season approaches, just look at the difference in the Manchester United players and the way the talk about their excitement for the new season, how they are planning to put in extra effort to impress their new coach Louis Van Gaal, and compare this with last season when David Moyes took over. At that point the reaction was much more muted, the players comments were much more measured, almost prepared, they lacked the same spontaneity and you felt that the players lacked belief.

Moyes had been a good manager at Everton for over 10 years, but he lacked the credibility to take over at Manchester United – the most successful English club of the last 2 decades – as he had never ever won a trophy, and his playing career was not one that was likely to impress the players.

So right from the start Moyes was facing an uphill battle. His players lacked belief, and in sports even mores than in business, belief is the difference between a good season and a poor season.

We can create credibility when we join a new company, it’s not impossible. But we need to really focus on it, we need to show tremendous belief in ourselves, not arrogance, but more real conviction. Then we need to create a series of quick wins, achieve some early successes to help build the belief that we need for long term success. We also need to have a clear plan that the team can understand and believe too.  If the team lacks belief in the leader and also belief in the plan, then they are truly doomed.

And once that cycle sets in, then the teams will look to do whatever it can to help them get the leader they do believe in.  This is the point at which the players start to question the leader publicly, showing that they lack belief, this is a message to the senior management that they need to replace the leader.

At my own football team, Leeds United, I can honestly say that I am just waiting for our new manager to be sacked. We have taken a manager who was not only managing at a semi professional level, at least 3 divisions below where Leeds play, but also he had been unsuccessful, having been sacked after losing 7 of the first 8 games of the season. So not only does he lack the necessary experience – in my opinion – but what experience he does have was not very good either.

Time will tell whether he will do a good job, but if I were a player at Leeds I am not convinced that this manager would get the best out of me and the team.

This is why credibility is important, it puts us in a good position to succeed right from the start.

So if you want to be considered as a leader its good to start by building credibility, building the belief that you will be successful.

It’s also easier for people picking leaders to select those who have credibility, as Manchester United have done now by selecting Louis Van Gaal.

Van Gaal has won trophy’s around the world, he had an excellent World Cup, and people can understand why the board have selected him, it’s a low risk selection for them, as it minimises the criticism that they will face if things don’t go well.

They can always claim that he’d been successful elsewhere, and he was an obvious choice, whereas with David Moyes they came in for quite a bit of criticism by selecting a manager that non of their supporters would have taken.

It was a risk, it backfired, and it brought criticism to the board.

When we have credibility, selecting us as leaders is a lower risk than selecting someone without credibility.

So if you want to be a successful leader start by building credibility!

Gordon Tredgold

#leadership principles