Business & Leadership

How to Establish Credibility [as a Coach, Speaker, Business Owner, or Leader]

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I’ve spent 40+ years of my life working as an internationally renowned and respected leader in the personal development field. I’ve spoken in front of crowds of 50,000 and brought them to their feet in ecstatic applause. 

I have also appeared on countless national TV shows, consulted with many Fortune 500 companies, trained thousands of people to become certified trainers, and have collaborated with some of the most successful people in America and around the globe.

And if there’s one thing I can tell you about the world’s most successful leaders – not to mention the secret to achieving recognition and lasting success as a coach, speaker, business owner, or leader in your own organization or industry – it’s this: 

If you want people to listen to your words and follow your guidance and leadership, you have to establish credibility and make sure they TRUST you. 


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People have to believe that you’re speaking from experience and deep insight – AND that you have their best interests in mind and are dedicated to helping them get the results they want. Otherwise, they will be reluctant to trust you enough to do the deep work required to achieve lasting transformation and show up as their highest self. 

That’s why it’s so important for you to establish common ground and open communication channels with the people you want to serve, collaborate with and lead – and take whatever steps are necessary for you to build credibility as a knowledgeable, reputable, and reliable expert who gets results. 

It doesn’t matter what kind of leader you are or your position within your organization

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By going the extra mile to prove to people that you are someone worth following – and that you have the knowledge, expertise, and insight to back up your words with evidence that your approach gets results – you reassure them that if they follow your lead and act on your advice, their efforts will be rewarded. 

And today I’m going to share some of my top tips to help you do just that – and learn how to cultivate the kind of credibility that inspires people to follow you wherever you will take them! 

How to Establish Credibility

Always remember that credibility stems from trust. People will see you as a leader to be respected only when they believe that you have what it takes to take them in the direction they want to go

The following six tips will help you cultivate that trust and establish credibility – and prove to people that you have the skills, experience, and common ground to help them overcome their challenges and achieve their desired outcomes in life. 

(Attention Public Speakers: These tips will also help cultivate your speaker credibility and make sure the audience’s perception of you is that of a leader worthy of being listened to and followed.) 

1. Always Be Transparent

“The best way to prove the clearness of your mind, is by showing its faults; as when a stream discovers the dirt at the bottom, it convinces us of the transparency and purity of the water.”
– Alexander Pope

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”

– Thomas Jefferson

People are more likely to trust you and listen to you when it’s clear that you are being completely transparent and not hiding anything from them. That’s why the most successful leaders tend to be an open book. 

Ask them a question and they will always share their thoughts and experiences and give you an honest answer. They understand actions speak louder than words and credibility stems from a person always walking their talk – and being completely open when they happen to stumble and fall. 

If you’re interested in establishing credibility with your clients, team, or colleagues, always be willing to openly share information and be fully transparent about your thoughts, actions, and experiences. If you make a mistake, don’t shrug it off or place the blame on circumstances beyond your control. Admit to the mistake and show that you have learned something from the experience. 

If you’re in the public speaking world, this means being willing to get vulnerable with your audience and let them know where you have made mistakes and what you learned from the experience.

Explain what your main challenges and failures have been and the journey that has taken you from where you once were to where you are now. By showing people that you too are fallible and that it’s possible to rise above your mistakes and get better results, you establish your credibility and encourage them to make the attempt to do the same in their own lives. 

And if you are a coach or client who works one-on-one with clients, always be sure to demonstrate the openness and transparency that you want to see in them. If they ask why you said something or acted a certain way, refrain from hesitating or prevaricating. 

Give them an open and honest answer so they can understand your reasoning and adjust their perceptions and expectations accordingly.  

2. Open Your Awareness

“Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate to and connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”

– Oprah Winfrey

“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.”

– John Steinbeck

Great leaders aren’t people who live exclusively inside their own heads. They are able to open their awareness to other people’s experiences, assess situations from other points of view, and empathize with other people’s perceptions and perspectives. 

That’s why anyone who is concerned about building credibility as a trainer, coach, public speaker, or leader should learn how to cultivate empathy and become more aware of other people’s experiences and perceptions. 

This empowers you to better understand their situation and provides them with the information and support they need to get better results in life. 

This also means becoming more mindful of how you yourself are showing up in the world and how your reactions to people and events impact the situation so you can adapt and evolve your response to get the best outcomes for everyone.

What’s Your Leadership Potential?

Take the Quiz to Uncover Your Inner Leadership Potential

3. Learn Continuously

“Research shows that you begin learning in the womb and go right on learning until the moment you pass on. Your brain has a capacity for learning that is virtually limitless, which makes every human a potential genius.” 

– Michael J. Gelb

Any good trainer, coach, speaker, business owner or leader knows how important it is to always keep learning and stay on top of changes within their industry. Credibility stems from being seen as a leader in your field. 

If you want people to listen to you and trust your advice and insight you have to demonstrate that you have the breadth of knowledge required to offer the kind of coaching and support that will help them achieve their personal and professional goals. 

That’s why is important for you to stay on top of the latest trends and developments within your industry and continuously expand your understanding and insight into the tools and strategies that help people get the results they desire. 

The more you learn, the more you will know – and the more effectively you’ll be at leading and inspiring people into action. 

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4. Be Respectful No Matter What

“Respect is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.”

– Annie Gottlieb

“Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony.”

– Dalai Lama

How you treat others plays a huge part in establishing credibility and persuading people to trust you. If you want to establish common ground and inspire people to show up as their best selves, YOU have to show up as your best self. And that means always treating other people with respect no matter who they are or how they are acting.

Even the lowliest employee in the mailroom deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. When you try to “pull rank” or try to lift yourself up by putting others down, all it does is demonstrate that you are ruled by ego and not quite the leader you are making yourself out to be. 

5. Support Others Along the Way

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” 

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Earn your success based on service to others, not at the expense of others.” 

– H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Great leaders make an impact by lifting others up as they themselves ascend through the ranks. Don’t just focus on your own professional development. 

Make sure that everyone on your team as well as your clients and colleagues have the resources and support they need to continue building their knowledge and skillset so they can achieve their goals and thrive. Be the rising tide that lifts all boats! 

When you show people that you are deeply invested in helping them create their ideal future and they will be far more invested in acting on your advice and insight and helping you achieve your goals. 

6. Stay Accountable Through Your  Decision-Making

“Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.”

– Courtney Lynch

“Accountability breeds response-ability.”    

– Stephen R. Covey

Harry S. Truman once had a sign on his desk that said, “the buck stops here.” Good leaders understand that they are ultimately responsible for the results of their team and the consequences of their own decision-making. 

So when your decisions don’t get the outcome you want – or your team doesn’t execute your vision in the way that you anticipated – don’t ask to pass off responsibility or blame others for the results. 

Hold yourself personally accountable and take whatever actions are necessary to improve the situation and get your desired outcome – not only now but in you and your team’s future efforts as well. 

Become a Credible Leader

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born— that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”


The key to establishing credibility as a coach, speaker, business owner, or leader, is to actually be a credible leader. This means using the six principles above to become a leader worth following! 

Demonstrate to the world that you are able to inspire people and make well-reasoned decisions that empower you and the people on your team to get the results you want. Outcomes always outweigh intentions! 

When you are able to offer people a proven track record of success, they will be far more likely to believe in you and see you as an inspired and inspiring leader who is worth following. 

But it’s not just what you say or do that establishes credibility as a leader worthy of being followed. It’s also how you treat people and how you communicate with them. We all have different dimensions of self within us, and some people dwell more firmly in certain dimensions than in others. 

When you learn how to communicate with ALL dimensions of a person’s self you are far more likely to speak to their understanding and desires and do a better job of inspiring them into action. 

Interested in learning more?

My team and I have created a comprehensive free guide that teaches you how to engage all dimensions of a person’s self. 

If you work one-on-one with clients or offer workshops or training to groups (or you would like to do this kind of work), this free guide will teach you how to make a deep and lasting impact and inspire people to unlock their full potential for success!

Download your free guide here.

What’s Your Leadership Potential?

Take the Quiz to Uncover Your Inner Leadership Potential


Meet Jack Canfield

For over 40 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, and people from all walks of life how to create the life they desire.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul(r) series, he's taught millions of individuals his modernized formulas for success, and has trained and certified over 2,700 students to teach his content and methodology in 107 countries around the world.