In this adaptation from his new book, the CEO of Red Hat, Jim Whitehurst, shares advice for how to build credibility in an organization — especially if you are new to it, have a different background than others on your team, or are not in a position of authority.
How would you be perceived in your organization’s meritocracy? Ask yourself if you command respect because people have to respect you or, rather, because you’ve truly earned respect. Many people aspire to titles because that forces others to respect them. But, to me, this is the lowest form of respect, especially if the person you’re receiving respect from is more junior than you or works at a lower rung in the bureaucracy. Respect has to be earned. It’s not about a title.
When people respect you only because of your authority, they will give you the minimum effort. Some incredibly brilliant people have earned respect because they are so smart, but most people aren’t incredibly brilliant. So how do you go about it? There are three ways:
Show passion for the purpose of your organization and constantly drive interest in it. People are drawn to and generally want to follow passionate people.
Demonstrate confidence. Many people in positions of authority don’t show confidence well, especially with their team. It’s one thing to convey confidence to your own boss, but it’s just as important to share that same confidence with those who report to you.
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