I was recently appointed as a referee at a nationwide junior football tournament. Two hard days running, with 16 games and 750 kids between the age of 10 and 14 but it was good fun. At these events you have volunteer mums and dads acting as your assistant referee (linesmen in old language) and you get varying degrees of capability as you would expect, often meaning you are coaching them in the signals you need and want throughout the game.
In one of my later games I had a ‘Dad’ who did not keep up with play, was often talking to people or players and at one occasion wasn’t even in the right half of the field. As such his flagging was inconsistent and often inaccurate. As a referee at such events you get used to that and knowing that in the end the call is yours you decide how far you can trust the signals you do get.
Most parents go along with that, but at the end of the game this Dad came over and said to me ‘what is the use of me being there if you don’t agree with my flag. I definitely saw a foul and you did not blow for it’. So I told him what I observed in his positioning and attention and said to him that as a referee I have to use those observations to decide how far I trust the signals that he did give.
It occurred to me that this is not dissimilar to workplace situations for many managers and leaders. Your credibility is a function of how attentive you are to the business of your business.
As a leader of others, do you ensure that they know what signals are important to you and what is expected of them? Do you give them feedback when they miss something or their attention wanders from the main objective of their role? Do you recognise them when they do give sound advice and do bring important things to the table? Do you give them airtime so that they can build up credibility with you? Do you ensure that they know how far you trust them? And what it takes to grow that trust?
And what about you?
Do you see issues coming in advance because you are keeping an eye out for them and are positioned to see the trends in your game? Do you pay attention to what you should or can you get distracted by other things and take your eye off the game at times? Do you let your leader know what they need to know in a timely way so that important calls can be made? When you do speak up, have you built up a reputation that means what you say is listened to? When you speak do you make sure it is worth listening to? Have you built up rapport and a relationship with your manager so that you are listened to when it matters? Or do you have a reputation for some bad habits to come out in certain situations, under stress or with certain people?
Credibility is a cornerstone of your reputation. What are you doing to maintain that?