Leadership Taboos: Exploring Credibility

Leaders do many things others couldn’t get away with and cannot understand. And each time a leader “gets away” with something, there’s an erosion of credibility.

Leaders are charged with getting things done through others, so we allow them a great leeway. We expect our leaders to exert power, manipulate people and engage in political gamesmanship.

We acknowledge their luxury perks and generous benefits. After all, most work extremely long hours. When they tout the merits of equality, collaboration and work-life balance, it’s often a case of “do as I say, not as I do.”

Credibility is critical for leaders. If they’re accused of demonstrating a poor work-life balance, people will doubt them. Each time there’s a gap between what a leader says and does, credibility is undermined. Over time, it erodes followers’ desire to be influenced.

As in all aspects of leadership, and especially with the taboos we discuss here, there’s little room for cognitive dissonance or gaps between what leaders need and how they go about obtaining it.

Leadership, above all, is about credibility, which requires confidence, certainty and capability.


This is a brief synopsis of a 2000 word article suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations. It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences.

There are two versions of this article: 2000 words and 1000 words (approximate word counts). The full article covers the following sub-topics:

Three Arenas of Leadership
Taboos of Persuasion
Taboos of Position
Taboos of Person
Six Ingredients for Credibility
The Dark Side of Leadership
The Credible Leader
Corporate Reality?


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