I’ve been thinking over the past couple of weeks about Brian Williams and his recent fall from grace. Many are shocked and disappointed. I can only see a glaring example of why authenticity and consistency are key to credibility.
Credibility is the third leg of the communication stool along with Connection and Clarity. A great message and great rapport mean nothing if the audience does not trust you. Brian Williams has spent over a decade in the anchor chair build trust with his audience, but he lost sight of the first rule of communication – it’s not about you. He began to make the stories about him. He found ways to put himself in the heart of the story or make his point of view more important, this lead to embellishment. Consistency of his story went out the window and with it went any sense of trust we had. His authenticity which had made time an ‘anchor’ both literally and figuratively was in question. What’s the truth? Has he lied before? Was he even who we thought he was?
If you want to build credibility and influence remember to be authentic. Don’t try to be someone else, more important, more connected, more capable. If it’s not authentic, people will sense that something is not right. Eventually, consistency will fail. People will see a side of you that doesn’t fit with the image you want to project and then any good will you have built will go the way of Brian Williams.
Great leaders don’t embellish. They are rooted in the truth of their story, their business and themselves.