Summary of Credibility

How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It

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Credibility book summary
You can establish credibility in very straightforward ways. But getting it back once you lose it — that’s tough.


6 Overall

7 Applicability

4 Innovation

6 Style


James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner use detailed research to show how leaders can achieve credibility. This book tells what caring leaders should do. If you are a leader, heed it. If you are managed - and not managing - don’t assume that your leaders care as much as those shown here. You will be ill-prepared for harsh reality. As a leader, you should know that the global marketplace has changed greatly. Now, shareholders jettison stocks if earnings fall below expectations. Executives slash U.S. jobs and export the remaining jobs to India and China. This is an age of multi-billion-dollar paychecks for chief executive officers, but psychological insecurity for workers. In this turmoil, it’s great to read what good leaders should do. The book is practical with a solid psychological grounding. Bottom line from these researchers are nice guys, writing for similarly nice guys. But not every leader is a nice guy. So trust, but verify. Or lead, and be nice.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to make sure that you are the most credible leader possible
  • How other people gauge your credibility
  • How to increase your perceived empathy toward your workers and constituents


A study of credibility involving 15,000 surveys worldwide and 400 case studies shows that workers want and will follow leaders who are "honest, forward-looking, inspiring and competent."

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About the Authors

James M. Kouzes is the chairman of the Tom Peters Group/Learning Systems. Barry Posner acts as dean of the Leavey School of Business and Administration at Santa Clara University. Both have presented leadership programs for such firms as Apple Computer, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Motorola. Their previous books include The Leadership Challenge, written in 1995. Credibility was written in 1993, and revised in 2003.

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    Erica Rauzin 5 years ago
    Hi Chad - Thanks for your well-informed feedback on this abstract (and several others we've noticed). We appreciate your input and the added expert insights. Erica Rauzin, Managing Editor, getAbstract

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