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Developing Leader Street Cred

Hack No.3 Build street cred. As a leader, people are interested in what you think, say, and do. All of them. That’s how you build your credibility: the decisions you make and if your actions support your words. In ‘normal’ times and times of crisis. All ears and eyes are on you. Be conscious in your words, your decisions, and your actions.


As a leader, your words have a disproportionate impact on people - What you say by day goes home with people by night. One mis-placed or mis-spoken word or sentence can cost you an hour, a day, a week of productivity from your team. You know that. You’ve done it yourself. Downed tools because you’re pissed with what a leader said.


Don’t let people tell you actions speak louder then words. Actions speak differently. The words still count. It’s just that your actions support your words and therefore the two in combination tell a more detailed story about you. Positive. Or not! And that impacts people each day.


Here's three examples to show how to Hack-it at building street cred.


1. Layoffs: As people speak economy ups and downs, and companies start to take act on their specific circumstances like hiring or firing people, you as a frontline leader bear the brunt of these actions. It’s your teams who are affected, right? Worse case, your people will be laid off. How you do this will have a lasting impact and build your street cred or destroy it.


The rules are simple: - do it respectfully, do it yourself (don’t have HR do it on your behalf - if they must, you must be in the room and lead the discussion) and use a simple guide I learned years ago from a communications guru I love, Dan McFarlan, the author of the fabulous book Drop the Pink Elephant.


Dan offers up three words:

- Regret

- Reason

- Remedy


Let people know you regret this is happening. Let people know the treason why. Let people know what you will do to remedy the situation. Then get into how you will help the people through this – references, referrals, maintaining a relationship. How you can help.


2. Company Credibility Issues. Sometimes you have to make decisions about how to handle other crises. A great example this week is how Fast Company is handling a breach in their internet. They’ve used the three Rs as well, but they’ve taken a step further that clearly impacts on their revenues. They’ve shut down their site completely until they feel back in control, taking a big hit, I am sure.




3. Individual style. The Flying Monkey. Straight out of The Wizard of Oz. “Stand back, I have flying monkeys and I’m not afraid to use them!”. That threat from a leader too afraid to take responsibility, so he blames others needs on why you need to do something, is a poor excuse for leadership. It's not even management. I write about it in my book and in a my blog Hacking it with Hackett.



These are the moments people will judge you – for better or for worse. These are the moments you can step up and show your credibility, your integrity, your leadership. Or not. It's all in how you handle yourself.


Building street credibility is tough. It comes with real-time, real-life experience as things happen. It’s why you have to consciously decide the words and actions you use. They have a direct impact on your people and you.



#HackingitwithHackett The Q4 Challenge. Post-sized Hacks to help leaders better engage, enable and energize their teams, and improve their operational results - before year end.


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