Ask an Exec – 4 Steps for Establishing Credibility and Influence

Like this on Facebook

For many women leaders, their biggest question about being a better leader has to do with building greater credibility and influence. Whether starting at a new company, in a new position or simply taking on more responsibility, most of us want to begin on the right foot.

When it comes to building credibility and influence, Nina Bhatti is an inspiring role model. Now the founder of Kokko, Inc., in her previous role as Chief Performance Architect with HP, Bhatti was among HP’s highest-ranked technical women; her research has resulted in commercially successful products for some of HP’s largest customers.

In a recent conversation, I asked what advice Nina could offer to someone who wanted to build credibility and the positive influence to make a difference in her organization. In other words, how should she go about influencing and gaining support for an idea or project that she is passionate about? In response, Bhatti provided the following 4 steps for establishing credibility and influence:

1.) Build Credibility

To begin, be aware that you are being observed. People are watching to see if you can be relied upon to deliver what you say you will deliver. While acknowledging that credibility building is never actually easy, Bhatti did advise, “When you enter an organization, your first job is to build credibility. I don’t think there is anything more important than that. You say what you are going to do and you do what you say.”

If given an assignment, you must confidently execute well. “You need to show enthusiasm,” Bhatti explained. “You need to show engagement with the mission of the organization. You need to take on assignments and do them confidently and enthusiastically.”

People will learn to trust you and know that you are going to achieve what you say you will do. “Train people that you are good for it,” Bhatti emphasized.

2) Contribute to the Goals of the Organization

Bhatti’s next step to building credibility requires finding valuable ways to contribute to your organization and making those your priority. “When there is an opportunity,” she suggests, “show professionalism. Help other people, but never forget what your main goal is.” If you’re not clear on the objectives of your role, Bhatti would encourage you to clarify those goals with your manager.

Like many women leaders, she cautioned against taking on volunteer assignments that do not directly contribute to the organization’s business goals. “As a junior person,” she explains, “I volunteered not to be on the Site Beautification Committee but for things like recruiting new interns. I knew a lot about colleges and universities and what to look for in a summer student. I worked on committees with the head of the world-wide organization. I got opportunities to work with people I would never have the opportunity to work with as the bottom rank player.” Choosing which roles to volunteer for helped her career while helping the organization.

3.) Seek Out Influential Sponsors

To make your mark on the business, find an initiative that you want to do, which is also a leader’s goal. “Find somebody in a position of power and authority who has something to gain from your doing this,” Bhatti suggests. “They need to have something to gain from you succeeding. You need someone who is in alignment with what you want to do.”

Early in her career, Bhatti approached a Senior Vice-President who needed to accomplish something for a large customer. “I gave him something that I could do that he really needed to deliver,” she recalls. As a result, the Senior Vice President was intrinsically motivated to become her sponsor.

4.) How Will You Know When You Have Gained Credibility?

Bhatti’s final observation is that “credibility is built along a sliding scale. If you have a small project and you executed well within that little envelope, that’s how credibility is built. You are given as much credibility as the last freedom you were given.”

For Bhatti, the realization of her growing credibility came the day a manager threw her a large and intimidating assignment. She recalls, “When the manager threw the monster task at me, I was very overwhelmed. How would he measure my success in an area with subjective goals and measures? It was truly scary.”

In the midst of that overwhelming project, she asked, “What do you want me to do?”

Her manager replied, “I don’t know. I am not going to tell you how to do your job. Something good will happen that wasn’t going to happen without you.”

“See how much credibility I built with him?” Bhatti said, with a chuckle. Bhatti had to figure out what the real assignment was and what the successful completion might look like. Over the coming weeks, she managed to validate the measures of success and then execute.

The Takeaway

In conclusion, Bhatti pointed out, “At some point your manager won’t know this better than you do. So you’ll end up having to learn to manage yourself and provide direction when there isn’t any.” You’ll have become the go-to influencer in your role. And you can get there much sooner if you show enthusiasm and engagement with your organization’s goals, execute well, and line up influential sponsors.

 

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Recommended

Leaderly Quote: When the best leader's work is done...

I love this quote from Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tzu (believed to be the author of the Tao Te Ching.) "When the best leader's ...

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Claudia Caryevschi

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her ...

Want To Lead? Here Are 8 Things You Don’t Get To Do

If you want to influence our behaviors and lead us to achievement, here are 8 things you don’t get to do: 1. You don’t get ...

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

Thank You, Leaderlies
Thank You, Leaderlies

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to know you, our

My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).
My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).

How many of you negotiated your first job offer? I have to admit I didn’t.

Transform Your To-Do List With This Quick Productivity Hack
Transform Your To-Do List With This Quick Productivity Hack

You’re probably familiar with the story for a jar that represents the time available in your life.

Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!
Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!

Could your career use an influential advocate? When you first begin your career, it’s important

Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.
Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.

“Don’t let a dream become a fantasy, which is what happens when you never act

Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization
Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization

“I feel like I’m the best kept secret in this organization,” said Tina. She had

Technology, Peace and Sanity
Technology, Peace and Sanity

A few years ago, I sat down and did some math. I tallied up how

Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here are the top articles that other emerging leaders have been reading at BeLeaderly.com this

Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams
Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams

Fear steals our dreams. Think about the last time you really longed for something but

Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.
Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.

“See yourself as a leader now. Leadership is an action not a position.” — Cindy Pace,

4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence
4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence

Let’s be honest: Most of us who did not start our careers in finance would

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

Improving Diversity in Hiring
Improving Diversity in Hiring

Caveat: Diversity is more than gender. I’ve used gender in some of these examples because

Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear
Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear

You took a big risk… and failed. What now? This is a question I asked

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly