The Incredible, Credible Leader

Jay Seifert
Aug 5, 2013 08:35 AM
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Jay Seifert, Guest ColumnistJay Seifert is the co-founder of LoneStart Wellness. He is a pioneer in applying established principles of social neuroscience and behavioral economics to individual and organizational “wellness.” His strategy is specifically designed to improve the health and well-being of those individuals most at risk for preventable chronic illness but least likely to participate in traditional “diet and exercise” programs. He is a monthly wellness guest columnist and you can see his columns in the first NCHN e-News of the month or right here on the blog.

The Incredible, Credible Leader

Wait. That’s a contradiction, isn’t it? After all, to say that someone is “credible” means they are believable, trustworthy and reliable.  If they are “incredible,” we’re saying they are unbelievable or not to be trusted, right? Well, yes—and no. Because it can also mean they are extraordinary, as in “Her’s was an incredible story of perseverance and triumph.”  In fact, we often use the word “incredible” to describe something that’s really, really good. “Wow, that’s incredible (fabulous, fantastic, far-out)!”

So what does it take to be the incredible credible leader of an organization that is committed to improving the health status of its members?  It’s really pretty simple—it means you are believable and can be trusted.  But once again, simple isn’t always easy.

Think about the leaders who have had the greatest influence on your life.  Chances are, you would ascribe a whole host of positive attributes to them, including inspirational, energizing, sincere, competent, committed.  And they were credible because you trusted that what they said and did was honest and important.  They were doing the right things for the right reasons.  But most importantly, their credibility was earned and reinforced over time.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you strive to enhance the credibility of your efforts to instill a new culture of well-being in your organization:

Core Values

What are the core values that you will not violate as you move forward?  Are your actions consistent with these values?


Does everyone believe you are doing the right things for the right reasons?  Are you keeping the promises you make?  In the unlikely event that you would (gasp) make a mistake, do you own up to it and correct it as soon as possible?


Your intentions are clearly stated and your actions are consistent with your intentions.


Are you not only speaking clearly, but listening clearly as well?  Are you depending on familiar “catch phrases” and jargon to establish your credibility on the subject of health and well-being or are you expressing your beliefs in terms that are relevant and realistic to your audience?  Do people believe their questions, comments and concerns are being heard and are important to you?


It’s hard to trust what you cannot see.  As you propose and implement your initiative to improve the health status of your organization, have you left any doubt as to your motives?  Is the initiative clearly understood in terms of how it will be implemented and measured?  Does everyone understand the individual and organizational rewards and sanctions for participation and results?  

The credibility you earn and exhibit is critical to your ability to lead your organization in the creation of a new culture of health and well-being.  When a leader demonstrates the ability to (as we say in almost every one of these posts) “walk the talk,” they build trust, confidence and enthusiasm for a shared organizational objective.

If you have questions or issues you would like us to address in this column, contact: Jay Seifert at 512-894-3440 or   

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