Credibility may be one of the hardest things to build during a career, simply because it takes time and consistency. You do not build your credibility overnight, it is something that is built over years of consistently applying the same morals, values, and ethics to every decision you make, whether on the fire ground or on an emergency scene. One may ask themselves what steps can I take to begin developing my credibility and get started on the road to being a great leader? In this article, we will discuss some key traits to follow to help jump start your path to success!
You begin building your credibility the day you enter the fire service, not when you get promoted or when you are on a promotional list. You must exemplify a good work ethic. There is no substitute for a good work ethic. Much like a positive attitude, a work ethic is contagious. If you begin working on a project in the bay or start cleaning something around the station, people will notice that and a lot times gravitate to what you are doing and begin to help. People respect someone with a strong work ethic and want to identify with that person, therefore building the first step of your credibility.
Be honest, tell the truth. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting around the kitchen table telling a story from the weekend or reporting to your superior on a mistake that you made, honesty is the best policy. Honesty adds integrity to your vision and adds value to your credibility. When you are consistent with your words and your actions, others realize you can be trusted. The more trust you gain, the more potential influence you will have among others.
Turn your words in to actions and follow through. Doing what you say you will do is a matter of integrity. If you are unable to follow through on your actions and let others down a number of times, then it will show that you are not reliable and therefore it will be harder for someone to trust you. A trustworthy leader will prove through their actions that they have core values that are worth following and that will inspire those around you to be better.
Building your credibility is not an overnight process, it will take many years to do but will be worth it in the end. You must find your core values, work hard, build trust and be consistent to get the maximum impact. Above all else, you must retain a positive attitude and make those around you better and leave a lasting legacy on your organization.
Tommy Goran is the founder of Flashover Leadership, a Fire Engineer/EMT with Columbia MO Fire Department with 9 years in the fire service and a Rescue Specialist for MOTF1. Tommy is also a member of ISFSI and an Advocate for Safety Net of Missouri.