Relationships vs. Credibility

"You don't need relationships…you need credibility!" It seems to be the new thought process for some of today's sales and leadership gurus. I find this concept to be interesting… and misleading.  There is no doubt that in order to succeed in any venture you must be able to add value. But credibility is about more than adding value or giving solutions. It is about trust. When two options of equal or close value add are presented to a customer, he or she will choose the one with the most credibility. However, that credibility is obtained through developing a trusting relationship with the business or business owner behind that option.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of excellence and data based solutions. However, creating a consistent ability to provide value to another person begins and ends with our ability to sustain a trusting relationship. It's easy to become an expert who has all of the answers in a given field or area. It is quite another to earn the right to influence others because of our capacity to engage with those around us and grow a relationship. 

We all have witnessed the "know it all" dictator or the "slick schmoozer" who is self-serving, demanding or manipulating. This is the antithesis of a strong effective leader. The person may have knowledge and expertise, but what they lack is the ability to authentically connect with and lead people. I have talked with many men and women who have served in our military about this issue.  Every one of them has told me that there are some leaders they follow only because of their position and line of authority. While they respect the position, they do not necessarily respect the person. Then there are those leaders who garner the respect of his or her followers. This goes beyond rank, and these are the leaders that they will give their best, their loyalty, and their trust to. Many have told me that this type of leader impacted their life well beyond the time they wore the uniform.

The bottom line is that while it may be a good sound bite, saying that we don't need relationships is really saying that people are not important. Choose to gain credibility through growing trust in your relationships and you will make a difference.