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20 tips to gain trust and credibility in the workplace

Photo credits: Zamrznuti tonovi / Adobe Stock

Whether you’re launching your career in your industry of choice for the very first time or you’re a new hire fulfilling your latest role, it may take some time to prove your worth on the job and gain the trust of your leaders, direct co-workers, and other cross-departmental teams.

In theory, employers must ensure that leadership, from the top down, is creating a psychologically safe environment for their employees to feel heard and share ideas or concerns. But if the organization that you signed up for is not being proactive about putting policies in place to improve its company culture, experts from  offer 20 best practices to assist aspiring leaders who want to enhance their chances of having a seat at the table in their workplace.

1. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.

Make yourself uncomfortable. Assert ideas, participate in strategic meetings, and engage with key stakeholders early on in your career. But, know your organization’s goals and vision, and don’t just speak to speak. Always work to expand your critical thinking and communication skills, have an adaptive mindset, and understand conflict resolution. This is all essential for leaders who sit at the table. –,

2. BE A MAGNET OF INSPIRATION.

Know your business opportunities and challenges. Have ideas and a clear point of view to address them. Be a magnet for the talent and team members it will take to execute effectively. Leaders do not execute successful outcomes of great ideas alone, so the last point is critical. You have to inspire people to follow your lead and take action. –,

3. FOCUS ON CONTENT, CURIOSITY, AND CONTACT.

An aspiring leader should focus on three areas: content, curiosity, and contact. Content: Build your unique point of view in your work domain. What specialization do you want to be known for? Curiosity: Continue to learn about new topics, new technologies, and other people’s success stories. Contact: Build your network and reach out to people who inspire you. Ask for and offer help. –,

4. RAISE YOUR HAND TO HELP WHERE NEEDED.

Raising visibility for yourself in your organization can be as simple as raising your hand for new initiatives the company is looking for individuals to be a part of. One example is to be a part of a committee or take on a stretch project to help shape the strategy and activities of the company. The idea is to demonstrate initiative to earn a larger seat at the table. –,

5. GO ABOVE AND BEYOND YOUR JOB REQUIREMENTS.

Know and contribute more than your role requires. One particular example sticks out. There was a junior account-based marketing representative who took it upon herself to dig into a somewhat tangential question asked during a weekly team meeting and ended up uncovering valuable insights for the business. Going above and beyond (in big ways and small, for the team or the project) is a sure-fire guarantee of a seat at the table. –,

6. DEMONSTRATE YOUR AUTHENTICITY AT ALL TIMES.

Focus on being authentic rather than pleasant. Many aspiring leaders hold themselves back by self-inflicted expectations to be nice, but leaders must find the intersection of authenticity and emotional intelligence. By fostering a coach approach, there is a natural synergy that forms, allowing authenticity and EQ to shine through, which frames the leader as honest, reliable, and above all, human. –,

7. PRESENT THE FACTS WITH YOUR IDEAS.

Consistently contribute with data-driven ideas, while also building trust through active listening and respecting your peers. Remember, it’s not just about climbing the ladder; instead, stay curious and maintain a genuine passion for learning and growth. –,

8. GAIN A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIG PICTURE AND FILL IN THE GAPS.

Understand how your work fits into the bigger picture. Then learn about adjacent areas where you can help fill in any gaps. This is a great way to take initiative, learn and provide value, and expand the scope of your contribution. After you’ve done that, use your knowledge of the business and technology objectives to question whether the approach being taken can be improved, and discuss it with your boss. –,

9. CONTINUE TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS SO YOU CAN LEARN.

I value aspiring leaders who exhibit continuous curiosity by asking questions that transcend any given project, extending to professional development and company growth. These questions demonstrate the long-term values of leaders and their companies. They also imply a level of humility, that one still has (and always has) more to learn, which is also paramount in my view of effective leadership. –,

10. FOCUS ON DOING A GREAT JOB AT WHAT’S ALREADY IN FRONT OF YOU.

Execute, execute, execute! If you truly want a seat at “the table,” nothing positions you better than executing the tasks already in front of you. Yes, you will face barriers and uncontrollable challenges in life and business. Yet, so many people have been invited to tables they were supposedly unqualified for because they went the extra mile, did the work, and executed with high standards. –,

11. GET TRAINED IN GENAI AND OTHER RELEVANT TECHNOLOGIES.

The explosion of GenAI transformed every company into a tech company. C-suites are no longer asking “if” but “how” they should invest, calling on strategic guidance from tech experts to inform business decisions. Leaders who want a seat at the table need to broaden their skills to be versed in the nuances of these technologies and the opportunities they provide to guide C-suite decision-making. –,

12. BECOME AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD.

Business leaders value expertise, and customers pay for expertise.  Regardless of whether the role serves internal or external stakeholders, aspiring leaders need to build their domain expertise simultaneously with their leadership skills. Expertise gives you a seat at the table and the credibility to be relied upon by senior leadership. –,

13. BE WILLING TO PITCH IN FOR THE GREATER PURPOSE.

Offer your help, even when you are not asked. In my experience, many folks want a seat yet aren’t willing to do what it takes. The people who anticipate what needs to be done and do what it takes without expecting anything in return get invited. They are doers, operating from a place of service rather than focusing on their desires. It’s a case of what I can give, not a case of what I can get. –,

14. DEMONSTRATE THE VALUE-ADD YOU CAN PROVIDE.

Bring a unique value-add. This can be anything. Showing initiative when working on a project, being a reliable knowledge source, or simply being a good collaborator are all ways to contribute value to your organization that will increase your chances of gaining a seat at the table. –,

15. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CLEAR POINT OF VIEW TO SHARE.

The difference between “workers” and leaders with influence is the ability to formulate and articulate a unique point of view—a new way of framing a problem, a challenge to conventional wisdom, or even a question that others are afraid to ask. In any good company, a fresh, provocative perspective is always welcome at “the table.” –,

16. BE READY TO STEP UP WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY ARISES.

Always be ready. You never know when an opportunity will arise or who will offer you that chance, so being prepared has to be more than just a good resume and recommendation. It takes knowing how every aspect of your company works—from entry-level up—to being open, genuine, and flexible when networking and collaborating. –,

17. COME UP WITH YOUR OWN IDEAS.

If you want to move up in an organization, you need to speak up for yourself but also celebrate other’s contributions. Too often we accept full credit for results that others helped to create or even try to attach ourselves to someone else’s work. Real leaders don’t need to borrow from others; they continue to learn, seek smart ideas, and then work hard to create the results their company needs. –,

18. FIND A SPONSOR WHO HAS YOUR BACK.

Having a sponsor who can advocate for you when you’re not in the room is key. While it is common to want to rely solely on your performance and results, this is not usually enough. It is important to communicate your strengths and aspirations to potential advocates so when opportunities arise, they are ready and willing to throw your name in the ring. –,

19. JOIN TOASTMASTERS TO BUILD CONFIDENCE IN YOUR SPEAKING ABILITY.

Spend time at Toastmasters to become a proficient and effective speaker within the organization. Being a strong communicator opens up a world of opportunities for leadership, access to senior meetings, and being known as someone who can inspire and motivate with their words. –,

20. WEIGH IN ON THE BROADER INDUSTRY CONVERSATION.

Think like an athlete. Continuously hone your craft and invest in your professional soft and hard skill development. Become an expert in your field and your industry, and build your professional profile in your industry along the way. Join networking groups and utilize social media to weigh in on industry trends. Become part of the broader market conversation and you become invaluable internally. –,