Webster's dictionary defines credibility as "the quality or power of inspiring belief." Developing our credibility is a necessary ingredient to earn respect and pave the way for greater achievement for ourselves and our teams. Greater credibility leads to greater influence and management effectiveness, and aids our efforts to justify resources and find support for our initiatives. Credibility is built upon two twin pillars: character and competence. Both character and competence are important - and go together like peanut butter and jelly, or Laurel and Hardy (imagine one of those without the other!).

Ten Building Blocks for Developing Credibility

1) "Walk the Talk" Multiple surveys have shown that people are looking for leaders with integrity and trustworthiness - those that live out strong personal ethics and always strive to do the right things. Alan Simpson says, "If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters!" How true!

2) "Be a Straight Shooter" The bible speaks of "speaking the truth in love." Being candid AND dignifying leads to people trusting what we say. Always telling the truth is important - one lie can sink us. Wes Fessler says, "Credibility is like glass. It is strong until it is broken, and then it is almost impossible to repair."

3) "Beat the Grapevine" It is better to over-communicate than to under-communicate. When we fail to communicate thoroughly a vacuum is created - and that hole gets filled with the grapevine (rumor mill), which is invariably negative and often wrong.

4) "Mess up? Fess up!" We are all human and make mistakes. Credible people don't lie or hide from their blunders. Brian Koslow says it well: "The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have."

5) "No Excuses - Make It Happen" Michael Jordan said, "Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." Credible people are those that make it happen. Earn the reputation as a doer, not a talker. Follow the principle of "under promising and over delivering." Look for creative and innovative ways to get the right things done, and develop positive relationship with those than can help you get results.

6) "Get Certified" Earning professional certifications is one of the most valuable means to develop greater competence AND earn credibility with others. The Mail Systems Management Association (MSMA) has multiple certifications to consider pursuing: Mailpiece Design Consultant (MDC), Certified Mail & Distribution Systems Manager (CMDSM) and Certified Mail & Distribution Systems Supplier (CMDSS). Go to msmanational.org for details.

USPS also has a couple of worthwhile certifications: Executive Mail Center Management (EMCM) and Mailpiece Design Professional (MDP). Refer to usps.com for details.

7) "Become a SME (Subject Matter Expert)" Developing your personal expertise and willingly sharing it with others will earn you credibility. You can further develop your expertise by earning professional certifications, being active in trade associations like MSMA and your local Postal Customer Council, thoroughly reading trade publications like Mailing Systems Technology, attending conferences like MailCom and National Postal Forum and developing your own personal network of peers and industry leaders.

8) "Develop a High Performance Team" I have shared ways to build High Performance Teams in prior columns. One extensive research project boils down developing High Performance Teams into three keys: 1) Develop a sense of Fairness, 2) Develop a sense of Achievement and 3) Develop a sense of Camaraderie within the team.

9) "Be a Fred" In a recent column I talked about the exceptional customer service provide by Fred the postal carrier. Going the extra mile and providing exceptional customer service will earn you and your team lasting credibility and success. Napoleon Hill was right when he said, "One of the most important principles of success is developing the habit of going the extra mile."

10) "Promote Your Team's Accomplishments" We want to be known as servant leaders that focus the spotlight on our team's achievements. When leaders sincerely lift up our teams in the eyes of others, we ourselves are elevated in the minds of our teams and outsiders. We can promote our team's accomplishments through internal company communication channels (e.g. intra-net; company newsletter articles), open houses and tours, promotional team brochures, mail related service guides and newsletters and through our local PCC and MSMA chapters.

Being a person of credibility is very rewarding - for you and your team. Good luck to you on your journey!

Wes Friesen, CMDSM, EMCM, MQC, ICP, CCM,CMA, CM, CFM, APP, PHR is the Manager of Revenue Collection & Community Offices for Portland General Electric, a utility in Portland, Oregon that serves over 820,000 customers. Wes teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at national Conferences like National Postal Forum, MailCom, CS Week and others. He manages the bill presentment and payment processing teams with the able assistance of supervisors Eric Houger, Tom Laszlo, Gil Rodriguez and Rick VanBeek. Wes can be contacted at Wes.Friesen@pgn.com.