Our work on credibility actually began because of the way women answered the question above. More than 80% felt men were perceived as more credible in the workplace. If women lacked credibility, even perceivably so, this was a huge handicap, so we set out to help them understand what all they could do to build and maintain their credibility.
But by the time we got around to writing the book, our audiences weren’t just women anymore. Top executives and CEOs wanted to learn about the transparent behaviors that build and maintain a credible reputation, and a whole lot of those people were men.
Lisa Nuss wants us to consider “gender” in a credibility discussion, saying Martha, judged against the expectation of “women should be deferential” and was bound to look arrogant. But a jerk of a guy has a different, far more aggressive marker…so he can be really obnoxious, but still look like an okay ass.
But here’s a question we asked that sheds a different perspective on gender: Who would be more likely to sabotage your reputation – a man or another woman? More than half of the women said (you guessed it) it would definitely be another woman. They wrote notes to us in the margins: “Women are catty.” “It’s in our blood.” “We don’t trust one another.”
Woman trusting women. Looks like there might be some work to do.
Strong as nails women at the top – some famous, like Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox (BusinessWeek, “Anne Mulcahy has Xerox by the Horns,” May 29, 2003), and AT&T’s Betsy Bernard, who shows her trust in women by getting them to the top of her organization (BusinessWeek online, “AT&T’s Betsy Bernard Goes the Distance,” 5/29/03), and others you wouldn’t know. But the people they work with say these women are yes – tough cookies – AND great bosses with oodles of credibilty.