BlogThought of the Week

The currency for true leadership

“The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection but credibility.” 

Think about this statement by American Author and Pastor, Rick Warren for a moment. It aptly captures the importance of credibility in leadership – whether as an individual or a brand that seeks to dominate any industry.

For decades, one brand has dominated the sugar industry in Nigeria. Saint Louis Sucre, a sugar brand popularly known as St Louis Sugar is owned and produced by Südzucker Group in German. The product made from beetroot and sugarcane was launched in 1865  and has been a longstanding household name in Nigeria. This product steadily retains major presence and ever-increasing patronage from consumers in Nigeria, though it is illegally imported into the country since its ban by the Federal Government in 2015. The Government took this step to give local producers of sugar a chance to gain more foothold in the market simply because the continued presence of St Louis Sugar didn’t make that possible for years. 

Isn’t it puzzling how St Louis Sugar has retained its leadership status in Nigeria’s sugar industry especially because you most likely haven’t seen a St. Louis sugar billboard, TV advert or print advert? Unlike other big brands in the country – known to retain customer loyalty by consistency and creative marketing communication strategies, St Louis Sugar is noticeably absent from the advertising space. It is not clamouring to get noticed by consumers neither has it changed its blue cardboard-like carton packaging even in this era of renaming and rebranding by various companies and products. The brand seems to stay quiet, yet manages to get overwhelming loyalty from Nigerians to the extent that many people hardly remember it is a foreign product. 

What is the secret? The answer is Credibility. The quality of being trustworthy and believable. St Louis Sugar has built such trust from Nigerians for more than 50 years through its unfailing and consistent presence and quality. 

Friends, building credibility for your personal brand is not just a good idea, it is an essential currency needed to live a value-adding life. It is the trait that makes colleagues, partners, clients and customers look at you as a reliable resource and decision-maker. It means people can rely on you, do business with you, and align with your values and intentions. To build credibility, here are 3 things you can do:

  1. Show Empathy
    Empathy is the capacity to recognise the emotions experienced by others. It is the ability to ‘stand in their shoes’. As captured by world-renowned leadership coach, John C Maxwell; “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Yes! You can get others to trust you when they know that you are genuinely looking out for them and will only take actions in their best interest. To build your credibility, you must genuinely care about people.
  2. Back-Up Your Words with Actions
    I strongly believe that a fulfilled promise is a more powerful tool to build a brand than elaborate marketing campaigns. Ever heard the phrase “Talk is cheap”?. While you can easily make a good impression and connection with people through a well-articulated speech or pitch, you will truly win their hearts by your actions.  You need to go beyond telling people what you can do to showing them you are truly capable of through your actions.
  3. Be Consistent
    Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego, USA Judith M Bardwick said; “Credibility is lost when there are big discrepancies between what leaders say and what they do.” To build credibility, everything you do, say and think should be consistent. The messages you’re sending out (consciously or unconsciously) and the actions you take, should all be in total alignment with who you are. Always remember that credibility is a reward for consistency.

You may have the best ideas and intentions in the world, but it won’t mean much if people don’t trust you to deliver. That is why you have to be intentional in building your credibility.

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