This part three of a three-part series on Mastering Credibility. Part one is It's What You Know and part two is It's The Relationships You Build.
Bert was an associate at a premier management consulting firm.
Over the years he specialized in providing advice to senior management in information technology organizations. Generally he had some pretty insightful ideas that many of the rank and file in the client organization viewed as a bit theoretical. His advice was typically accompanied by general implementation timelines which client organizations rarely took verbatim. Bert's advice usually culminated in some type of a Powerpoint presentation to the senior client management; then it was off to the next assignment.
For years Bert had been trying to get a foot into the door of Laner Robotics.
After a few weeks, Bert formulated his findings and prepared his Powerpoint deck for Kara. At his presentation, Bert outlined some recommendations which Kara's managers didn't think would work. Nonetheless, Bert proceeded forward with his recommendations. Kara had previously talked with her managers and knew they didn't support Bert's findings. Bert was persistent with Kara. Kara was skeptical; "Bert, I'm just not sure that this is the right answer, but perhaps you could take some of your ideas and implement them in one of my PM organizations. Would you be willing to work with Allison to implement your recommendations?" Allison was one of Kara's top managers and knew that if Bert's ideas would work anywhere it would be in Allison's organization. Bert had never been in a situation where he had to implement his recommendations but thought it would be easy to do. "Sure, I'll implement them and report back to you in two weeks." Kara was skeptical but agreed, "OK Bert, go for it."
The next two weeks were a nightmare for Allison. Bert had no idea how to implement his own ideas and completely frustrated Allison and her team. He was disorganized, lacked focus, and was unclear about assignments. Bert continued forging ahead with his original ideas even though it was clear he was failing. After a while Allison and her team simply started ignoring Bert because he was wasting their time.
At his follow-up meeting with Kara, Bert had to break that bad news that his recommendations were a flop. "If I could only have a few more weeks I'm sure we can get these recommendations working", Bert pleaded to Kara. Kara had already talked with Allison and knew that Bert simply couldn't deliver on his recommendations. "I'm sorry, Bert, but I just don't think you're going to be able to deliver results. Allison and her team don't see you as credible, and if Allison doesn't see you as credible I have difficulty accepting your recommendations.
Bert left Kara's office knowing full well that his hopeful future as an advisor to Kara and Laner Robotics had just been snuffed out.
Bert's credibility with Kara was irreparably torched. He committed to deliver results but failed miserably without having a good reason for non-delivery. Bert ignored the warning signs and forged ahead with his failed implementation.
Mastering credibility is not just about having great ideas, it's also about how you follow through on those ideas to deliver results. A word of caution; mastering credibility doesn't mean that you always have to be right; if that were the case then no one would take risks out of fear of being wrong. What it does mean, though, is that if you are wrong about something that you own up to it and figure out what you need to do to right the ship.
My one nugget for you is thus: mastering credibility means you have to leverage what you know and the relationships you build to deliver results. Fail to complete the circle by delivering results and you'll establish a reputation for yourself as a "those who can't do teach" theoretician.
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