How to regain Credibility

Despite your best intentions, despite your quest for excellence, despite being a person of character there are going to be times where things don’t go as you planned.  Things change unexpectedly, people you are counting on don’t do what they said they would do,  or it just plain gets messed up.  It is going to happen to every one of us.  The question is what do we do when it happens?  How we respond is more important then what happened.  Many times we choose to respond with blame,  denial, avoidance ( also called head in sand ).  Why do we do that?  Our society has created a culture of being scared to make mistakes.  In some of us that fear is deep rooted that we won’t even take enough action to make a mistake.  Its amazing to watch children trying new things.  They have no thoughts about making mistakes accept, “Hey mom, did you see that?”  But it doesn’t take long for them to start picking up the fear of mistakes.  Thank goodness people like Thomas Edison didn’t feel that way.  Many sources quote different numbers, but let’s just say it took him 1,000 attempts to create the lightbulb.  If he hadn’t persisted I would be doing this blog with smoke signals.  Failure is always part of the process of success but we should learn from Edison when he said, “I have not failed.  I have just found 999 ways that won’t work.”  Luckily, most of us have a mentor, which means we don’t have to learn from trial and error, like Edison.  We can learn from other peoples experience.  With all that said, what I want to focus on is, what we do when we make a mistake that affects others.

The most important thought to begin with is you can actually gain credibility by making and owning up to a mistake.  Its amazing how counterintuitive, in todays culture,  it seems to own up to a mistake.  The book “Credibility” gives a real world example.

Pradeep Vaswani, project manager at Infosys Technologies, recalled a time when his team went off course and as a result would fail to deliver on time to the client.  His managers had advised him that he shouldn’t disclose this in advance to the client, but should merely work overtime to catch up.  However, Pradeep knew that keeping this secret would result in a breach of trust with his client if the matter went out of control.  Furthermore, he was unwilling to set such a poor example to his staff.  Consequently, Pradeep accepted the responsibility for informing the client about the projects status.  The client was upset, but Pradeep also told them how sorry and disappointed he and his team were about missing the deadline.  He had explained what had caused the delay and what the team would do.  He showed his commitment to the new deadline  by indicating what he would do himself to ensure the new deliverables were met.  The project was completed by the new deadline, and the amount of trust the client had for Pradeep actually increased tremendously.  At the same time, the respect his team members had for him was enhanced because he accepted responsibility and showed accountability for the team without pointing fingers.

I think the reason someone owning up to mistakes is such a big deal is because it so rarely happens.  The reason gold is so valuable is because it is so very rare.  The same is true with human emotions.  When we see someone display a trait that we rarely see, we naturally look at that person with more esteem.  Studies have shown that “admitting mistakes” ranks second to “tells the truth” when people were asked what behaviors best define an honest person.  So, here are the six A’s of accountability:

  1. Accept = come to recognize 
  2. Admit  = confess to be true or be the case
  3. Apologize = express regret for one has done wrong
  4. Act = take action
  5. Amend = make changes to make it correct
  6. Attend = be present, deal with it


“When” not “if ” you make a mistake, apply these six A’s and you will not only maintain your credibility but you will increase it.


Bill Lewis

23 thoughts on “How to regain Credibility”

  1. Thank you Bill for you insight and training on how to restore credibility. What I like most about the 6 A’s is that it is about you doing, not about pointing a finger at someone else and placing blame on them in attempt to save ones ego. I want to have a Growth Mindset and I want to develop the type of Credibility that is built on solid success principles. Thank you again and I will be sharing this email with many people today!

  2. If only more people would live by this, it would save a lot of time and money acrossed the world. I think admitting to an error is the best ways to gain respect from someone, because it is showing true integrity. Thanks Bill, I love truth! ——Kurt

  3. Bill,
    Great post, reminds me of the quote “people with integrity expect to be believed and when they are not, they let time prove them right” . Sometimes doing the right thing will cause others to try and damage our credibility.
    God Bless

  4. CREDIBILITY was an outstanding book full of great leadership nuggets..DWWSWWD (DO WHAT WE SAY WE WILL DO); in a credible community, dilemmas are resolved based on principles, not positions; on problems, not personalities; be servant leaders; and my favorite is this….leaders would do well to learn to LOVE struggles…for where there is tension, there is also energy. Where there is energy, there is also the possibility of movement. Where there is movement, there is the chance for progress…FORWARD MOVEMENT is the measure of leadership. agh….i am such a book nerd….thankful to LIFE for directing me to read the books needed to continue my journey of leadership…because in the end…leaders don’t decide who leads. Followers do. (as Orrin says…if you are leading and no one is following…you are just out for a walk) Thanks PC for the book recommendations!

  5. Wow! What a good look into accountability. So often In my line of work I run into this exact example given above, and I’m told to deal with it. This will definitely help overcome some blame shifting that usually occurs by all parties
    Thanks Bill

  6. Sadly in today’s world, whom ever you call to get a problem resolved, it’s usually with the same result…the blame goes from dept transfer to dept.transfer, no one wants to admit fault…Nice to belong to Life, where our leaders lead with integrity and set the best of example’s to those of us who look up to you…Wouldn’t it be a blessing some day to be associated with 1 million people who showed integrity, were honest, and yet could admit to their failings…great article, Thanks!

  7. Great article. In the day to day work world it does not appear that accepting responsibility is recognized as the Noble thing to do because mistakes are not accepted. It is good to remind us right is right, regardless. Thanks again.

  8. Thanks Bill, “Credibility” was a great book! Your post was a good reminder. It is always difficult to admit when one is wrong but I have found that I sleep much better with a clear conscious!

  9. Bill thank you for sharing! Great topic ….this is definately a necessity in todays world especially when we are running away from the herd!

    1. Charles,

      I was going to write you personally but decided to just write a blog on the situation. I appreciate that you were not rude in the manner that you asked me.


  10. Good stuff Bill,

    You are so right Bill, I don’t understand why it is so hard to accept responsibility for a mistake. Even more so, I find myself having to re frame my thinking as soon as the thought of felling dejected begins to surface once a mistake is made. I am reading the book Confidence of a champion and I think it will complement what I have learned from this blog. Thanks Bill!

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