When speaking of leadership we often talk about vision and passion, and the dramaturgy of presentation. But more important than any of these, is a well articulated sense of sincerity. In the final analysis, leadership is about personal credibility. It’s about your ability to convey to people not only the feeling of “been there done that” but also a sense of being able to convey to people that you have:
• Positional Authority: That you speak from a place that gives you the right to talk to the issue
• Personal Integrity: That you are speaking beyond self interest
• Expertise and Knowledge: That you really know what you’re talking about
• Time and Opportunity: That you know that this is the right time and right arena to speak to the issue
(chart and following text from Get Them On Your Side, Samuel B. Bacharach 2006)
“In order to establish personal credibility, you must use language and personal presentation. How do you let others know, without shoving it down their throat, that you are credible? What language should you use to initiate a supportive response? Keep in mind that if you become overbearing, it is unlikely that you’ll develop deep support. If you try to make yourself credible simply based on your position, you’ll be viewed as confusing power for credibility. If you constantly try to push your personal integrity, you may be quickly dismissed as wallowing self righteousness and will become an irresistible target for cynics. If you overplay your hand by maintaining that you have the needed expertise, you may be written off as arrogant. Finally, if you claim to be credible because you are at the right place at the right time and have a sense of urgency, you may be viewed as being frantic. Try to communicate a balanced picture of credibility. Let them know about your expertise and knowledge, show them your personal integrity, hint about your positional authority, and remind them that you are at the right place at the right time. Most important, don’t overplay any single factor and communicate with self-assured subtlety.”
No matter what your position is regarding gay marriage, a wonderful example of the practice of leadership through the language of integrity may be seen in a video I stumbled across the other day featuring an impressive young man by the name of Zack Wahls. Take a few minutes and watch and listen to Zack and see how he truly personifies leadership and the language of integrity.